The race to lead the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) continues to get murkier each passing day, as allegations of arm-twisting, vote buying, and influence- peddling fly from both sides of the divide, with the Mills camp being the hardest hit.
The Mills campaign team has been accused of dishing out GH¢4,000 and brand new motorbikes to delegates in exchange for votes, especially in the Eastern and Volta regions.
President Atta Mills was said to have earmarked GH¢90million as budget as captured on security tapes for the party primary where he is contesting the NDC presidential slot with former First Lady and wife of founder, Nana Konadu Ageyeman-Rawlings and Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, a former vice chairperson.
Yesterday, Nana Konadu's campaign team expressed concern about the use of money to influence identified and potential delegates to vote for President Atta Mills when the party goes to congress on from July 8 to 10 in Sunyani.
A statement signed by its Campaign Co-ordinator, Namdurr Berrick, said the Mills camp were resorting to dubious means to get votes whilst another member of the team who is also the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for Manya Krobo, Micheal Teye Nyaunu, expressed dismay at the manner in which Mills and his people were carrying out their campaign to an extent that they were influencing delegates not to endorse Nana Konadu's nomination forms as the constitution of the party required her to do.
He said, 'Anybody who they perceive to be among our group is called and some people just got GH¢4,000 and brand new motorbikes, trying to influence them not to continue following Nana Konadu.'
DAILY GUIDE has uncovered a grand scheme by President Mills and members of his campaign team, Get Atta Mills Endorsed (GAME), to buy the conscience of these delegates.
Most of these individuals and group of persons including national executives of the party have been shuttling from region to region, amidst promises and doling out of cash to delegates to ostensibly get them to vote for the President.
DAILY GUIDE sources have hinted that during his recent visit to the Brong Ahafo region, President Mills allegedly ordered all Municipal and District Chief Executives (MDCEs) in the region to give an amount of GH¢4,000 to each of the ten delegates from their districts/constituencies.
This, according to the source, was when the President met all the MDCEs in the region at a special meeting which was held at the residence of the Regional Minister, Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, in Sunyani.
At the meeting, a Minister who spoke on behalf of the President was said to have directed the MDCEs to pay another amount of GH¢400 to elders of the party who would be selected as delegates in the congress.
It is believed that this presidential directive has been issued to all the 170 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) across the country, most of whom have declared an open and unflinching support for the President in order to save their jobs.
Chief of Staff Henry Martey Newman, party General Secretary Johnson Aseidu-Nketia and head of Mills's campaign team, J.H Owusu-Acheampong and other power brokers in the NDC were said to be present at the said meeting which travelled deep into the night, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.
The president had earlier met with constituency, regional and other executives of the NDC in the region at the same venue.
Most of these MDCEs are said to be in difficulties in carrying out this Presidential fiat which is expected to cost them over GH¢50,000.
DAILY GUIDE has however learnt that a section of these obviously frustrated DCEs have decided to solicit support from the various contractors working on projects in their districts to the extent of bloating new contract sums to enable them to carry out the President's directive.
Just this Tuesday, National Organizer of the NDC Yaw Boateng Gyan, and another member of the Mills campaign team, Cecilia Johnson, were said to have visited the region in a follow-up to see whether the DCEs have been able to follow the President's directive to the letter, DAILY GUIDE learnt.
The story is not different from what happened in the Ashanti region when National Women's Organiser of the NDC Anita De-Sousu recently met all 39 Women Organizers in the region at the Salisburg hotel in Kumasi.
In her case, DAILY GUIDE sources said she allegedly promised to give a loan facility of GH¢20,000 (¢200million) to each of the 39 Women Organizers in the region with effect from June.
Anita denied making any such promise to the Women Organizers when contacted by DAILY GUIDE , saying, 'I am sorry I don't know anything about that story; I am sorry I don't have an idea about that money'.
Some of the Women's Organizers who spoke to DAILY GUIDE insisted the fat loan package was promised them on condition that they voted for President Mills during the upcoming congress of the NDC.
Apart from the constituency Women Organizers, their assistants are also expected to benefit from a GH¢10,000 (¢100million) loan package, also on condition that they would give their votes to President Mills.
According to some NDC Women Organizers who attended the meeting, Anita De Sousou initially made them to believe that she was in the region to thank them for voting her as their National Women's Organizer in an election that was held more than a year ago.
One of them who spoke to DAILY GUIDE on condition of anonymity said they therefore became confused when Madam De Sousou started using the forum to campaign for President Mills, asking them to vote for him.
Accusations and counter-accusations
The two main opposing sides, the Mills and the Konadu camps, have started trading heated verbal exchanges, with each side accusing the other of mudslinging and influence peddling.
Whilst the Konadu camp accuses the Mills camp of using money to influence known and potential delegates, the Mills camp also claimed the Konadu camp was merely making vile allegations in order to prepare the grounds for an excuse in case they lose the contest.
But Konadu's campaign team claims to be aware of a series of calculated visits by members of GAME and other leading government personalities who are applying intimidating tactics towards delegates, calling on them not to vote for Nana Konadu with lies and open threats.
A statement issued by her campaign Coordinator, Namdurr Berrick, however said, 'The blatant abuse of executive power to induce, intimidate and lure delegates and other party supporters to vote against their conscience in the forthcoming presidential primary is despicable, shameful, cowardly, irresponsible and alien to the NDC.'
Though they claim to have officially written to the General Secretary of the party to apprise him of the dirty campaign going on, Konadu's campaign team has charged all delegates to remain steadfast and expose these shameful acts in the light of the pressures they are facing.
'They must remember they represent the voice of millions of party supporters who have lost faith in the way President Mills has run the country since January 2009,' the statement said, urging delegates to 'continue to stay bold and resolute and work hard to turn the clock of backwardness to one of progress'.
The campaign team of President Mills parried some of these allegations making the rounds in sections of the media which suggested they were using money and other dubious means to influence identified and potential delegates.
It specifically narrows down on claims by a friend of the Rawlingses, Herbert Mensah, that an amount of GH¢90million is to be spent on President Mills's campaign bid, describing it as false and preposterous.
A statement signed by the spokesperson for GAME, Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, said, 'It is regrettable that such a person should be allowed to cause disunity and rancor in the NDC party.'
According to GAME, the Mills campaign would continue to focus on giving the party's delegates to the July congress cogent reasons why they should endorse Professor John Evans Atta Mills as the NDC's candidate for 2012.
The team has since challenged Mr. Mensah to produce the tapes, which he claims contain evidence of his malicious fabrications.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Sunyani & I.F Joe Awuah, Kumasi