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Politics of Tuesday, 10 July 2018


I provided 200 motorbikes; why can’t Blay provide 275 buses? - Sammi Awuku

Newly elected National Organiser of the New Patriotic Party has vehemently defended what he said is a private initiative by the chairman to buy 275 new buses for commercial use in the constituencies.

Sammi Awuku said even he, without clout and financial muscle, was able to purchase 200 motorbikes to all constituency youth organisers and wondered why Chairman Freddie Blay who owns a media house, a law firm, has been Member of Parliament and Second Deputy Speaker for years cannot marshal resources to procure 275 vehicles.

As part of the criteria to becoming the chairman of the NPP, Sammi Awuku said the aspirant must show proof of being either resourceful or has the resources to push the party’s agenda.

He was in doubt that Blay had some resources and was resourceful enough to raise funds for the procurement of the vehicles.

His comments come in the wake of criticisms against the newly elected chair Freddie Blay for funding the procurement of some 275 vehicles for each of the NPP constituency.

The vehicles procured at a cost of $11 million are to be operated by the State Transport Company with a percentage of proceeds paid to the NPP constituency offices.

Mr Blay is reported to have paid an initial $3 million with the remaining amount left to be paid through the proceeds that will accrue from operating the commercial bus.

But the NPP chair has been criticized heavily for the policy with many questioning his source of funding.

The Minority in Parliament is also raising an alarm over the policy and has asked for a financial audit of the finances of the Ghana National Petroleum Company, where Blay acts as the Board chair.

The president of the National House of Chiefs Togbe Afede also wants the scandal to be investigated by the Special Prosecutor.

But speaking to Joy News’ Evans Mensah a day after he was elected as National Organiser, Sammi Awuku said there is absolutely no wrongdoing in the procurement of the buses.

He said having toured the entire constituency during the run-up to the elections, he, like Freddie Blay, was confronted with the challenges facing the supporters at the constituency level.

According to him, Freddie Blay decided to do something about party financing at the constituency level.

“To make resourcing our constituency party easier I am going to push for an arrangement and a facility so that we can acquire at least minimum of 275 vehicles so that the party at the local level can have some engagement and run this as a commercial entity. Then the proceeds of it, the party at the constituency level can keep part and use the rest to pay for the facility taken," he reported Freddie Blay as saying.

He added Mr Blay went further to negotiate on his own accord but discussed with John Boadu to act as a guarantor which he agreed.

“If today there is a default the NPP and its assets will not be sold,” he explained, adding it was not a party initiative but a purely private initiative.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that his explanation was at variance with what Richard Nyama, the Spokesperson of Blay had said, the National Organiser said there was no contradiction at all.

Nyama had suggested in an interview with Joy FM that even though his boss brought up the idea, it was agreed to by the party and accepted by same.

But Awuku said there was no contradiction at all. He said the party chair discussed it with John Boadu who is also a key member of the party as well he Awuku.

So even though the party structure may not officially have been informed about it key party officials were in the know and were ready to support the initiative privately.

“If me, a small fry was able to procure 200 motorbikes for my Youth organizers, mobilized T-shirts for all of them without a dime coming from the party, you think Freddie who has been in this business, being a businessman has been an MP cannot raise money for these buses?” he asked.