New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has defended the newly elected National Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Freddie Blay over his decision to facilitate the purchase of 275 minibuses for each constituency of the party.
The Effutu MP argued that Mr. Blay’s pledge, which came to fruition ahead of the NPP’s delegates Conference, was not meant to sway voters.
Mr. Blay emerged the winner in the national chairmanship race of the NPP amid the allegations of vote buying from his closest challenger, Stephen Ntim, and political observers.
But in Mr. Afenyo Markin’s view, the pledge to provide buses was simply a move to help the party.
Explaining his position on The Point of View, the MP said “I am going into an election and the expectation of the party executives in the constituency is that we need to engage in party activities. We need to go to villages and canvas votes or go and engage in party activities so we need logistics.”
“And I promise that for these logistics that you need, I will put in place support systems to provide you with those logistics for party work. How does that become vote-buying within the context of the kind of argument that you are raising?”
Mr. Afenyo-Markin was speaking on the show alongside a Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Dr. Kojo Pumpuni Asante.
The CDD has already criticized Mr. Blay for what it described as blatant vote buying.
It has also decried the lack of internal mechanisms in political parties to check vote-buying.
Dr. Asante had earlier said on the Citi Breakfast Show that “for me, it is simple vote buying. People were saying that there is no law against it, but if you look at it, the constitution is very clear that all these parties have to organize their internal arrangements that are consistent with a democratic practice that is consistent with the constitution.”
He later warned that such vote buying was ultimately unsustainable and leads to corruption.
“This thing is not sustainable. The number of candidates who stood for the 2016 elections is almost a 1,000, but only 275 got elected. If they are all spending this amount of money, taking loans and personal savings and so on, at every election if you add those monies together, there are a lot of people taking a huge risk and they fall into debt. So we increasingly are monetizing the politics. Citizens are feeding into it, politicians are responding to that demand and it is escalating every year,” he said.
“You can’t sustain it because where are you going to get the money from. It is the big people who have money that begin to control politics because everybody is going to them. We are getting close to getting godfathers in politics,” he added.
How the buses were procured
According to reports, Mr. Blay as a guarantor, paid 3 million dollars which constitutes 30% of the total cost of 11.4 million dollars and has taken delivery of the first 100 minibuses.
Freddie Blay’s spokesperson, Richard Nyamah, subsequently explained that Freddie Blay contracted a loan facility from the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) to procure the 275 buses and that the constituencies will pay for the bus over a two-year period.
Richard Nyamah also revealed that the NPP was behind the acting Chairman’s decision to purchase a bus for each of the party’s 275 constituencies.
Mr. Nyamah said discussions were held with the NPP and that the party “agreed and okayed the deal.”
Special Prosecutor pursues Freddie Blay
A source at the office of the special prosecutor later noted that the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu had started investigating Freddie Blay over the matter.
It said the office will go ahead with the investigations whether or not Mr. Blay won the election at the NPP’s conference.
The source further said Mr. Martin Amidu was of the view that, Mr. Blay is a public officer as a Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), and also as a national officer of the governing party with influence, he falls under the Criminal offenses Act (1960) Act 29, and must therefore be questioned on his source of funding.