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14.04.2008 Politics

John Tia In Vote-Buying Saga

By Daily Guide

Less than a week after holding its parliamentary primary to elect a candidate for the December elections, the Talensi Constituency branch of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is being rocked with what can be described as a cocktail of accusations, particularly between the two main contestants.

Even though the incumbent MP for the area and Minority Chief Whip, Hon. John Tia beat his main contender, Robert Yeli-Oni, at the end of the day, the primary election was allegedly characterized by massive vote-buying.

Out of a total of 154 valid votes cast, Hon. Tia polled 133, representing 98 percent, while his opponent polled 21 votes. There was one spoilt vote.

By this victory, the sitting MP will be contesting the seat for the unprecedented fifth time on the ticket of the same party.

DAILY GUIDE has reliably gathered that on the eve of the primary, several accusations and objections relating to unacceptable voting practices were flying in the constituency.

For instance on Saturday, April 5, 2008, the MP allegedly camped delegates at different locations from 8am to 1am the following day, and allegedly gave out half piece of cloth, GH¢50 and two cutlasses to each delegate.

According to eyewitnesses, the MP allegedly went ahead to promise a bicycle to each delegate should he win the primary, a promise he fulfilled five days after he was declared winner.

The development, which was confirmed by Yeli-Oni, indicated that while delegates in the western part of the constituency were camped at the Farmers Training Centre, those in other zones were camped at the Wakii Primary School and the residence of one Sumanda Panka.

“As a result of that, I couldn't get access to the delegates. I complained to the constituency, regional and national executives but nothing was done about it,” he said.

But when contacted, the MP, who initially denied the allegation, later said his opponent did worse things.

“I don't think this is the issue; but if we are to talk of accusations, then he did worse things because he gave each delegate GH¢200,” he explained.

According to him, his opponent had all the opportunity in the world to campaign, but the people simply did not like him.

“I had all along been outside the constituency, and if I arrived late and I decide to meet the delegates, I don't see it as camping.”

Meanwhile, an observer at the primary said it was not true that Yeli-Oni gave out GH¢200 as claimed by the MP.

The source told this paper that Yeli-Oni was a Bolga-based teacher, and was not capable of raising even GH¢10 per delegate.

In a related development, information gathered from the constituency has confirmed that several bicycles have been distributed to delegates a few days after the election of the MP.
Since 1992, Hon. Tia has represented his people in Parliament despite several allegations and ill feelings harboured against him by some influential people in the constituency.

The constituency primary, held at Winkogo in the Talensi-Nabdam district, was witnessed by officials of the Electoral Commission.

In his acceptance speech before some of the party's Regional Executives, Hon. Tia promised to work hard to win the seat again and ensure that the party also wins the Presidential election in the constituency.

He commended the delegates for the confidence they had reposed in him and promised not to let them down.

Some concerns have been raised about when the glaringly aging MP will give way for a youthful indigene of the area to also represent the constituency, but Hon. Tia has always been quick to refer to the statement of Hon. J. H. Mensah that “MPs do not crack stones in Parliament; they make laws, which usually requires people with experience and knowledge and not physical strength.”

He urged members of the NDC to remain loyal to the party even in difficult times and work hard to win more support for the party.

From Ebo Bruce-Quansah

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