...Blows, demos engulf vetting of candidates
An unprecedented series of massive demonstrations were held yesterday at the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Greater Accra Regional headquarters, by various disgruntled party faithful from some constituencies in the region expressing their anger against some parliamentary aspirants.
The demonstrators threatened to vote skirt and blouse should the Vetting Committee fail to address the concerns they have raised against certain aspirants.
Some of the aspirants who the groups demonstrated against included the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Sheik I.C. Quaye, who has expressed his interest to contest again in the Ayawaso Central constituency after being in office for three terms.
The crime of Sheik Quaye was that he was too old and that he should allow the youth to take their turn in parliament.
“The man is too old, why, he wants to die in parliament?” one of the angry mob charged.
The aspirant, who received the most serious criticism by the protesters was Mr. Kofi Ofori, a.k.a Bella, who is contesting in Ablekuma North.
The protesters claim there had been serious allegations levelled against him by Institutions like the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), as a result of which he should not be allowed to contest.
A member of the protesters, Eric Bempong, who claimed he was an elder in Ablekuma North, told the Chronicle that there were five people vying for the constituency, but they do not want Bella in the race because he was elected as the Assembly Member of Kwashieman Electoral area where he misconducted himself by converting AMA properties into shops for private use.
According to him, a committee was set up and they recommended that he should be disciplined in accordance with the Civil Service Law relating to misconduct, adding that up till now the elders of the party had failed to take action against him.
He said, when Bella became the Constituency Chairman, he began to employ divide and rule tactics which resulted in a serious division in the party.
“He can not work with even his own constituency executives, there have been serious petitions written by his own executive members to the regional office against him, but they failed to act,” he noted.
Mr. Bempong continued that, currently the constituency does not have a party office due to his inability to handle affairs, hence they have not been able to hold a general meeting for one and half years. He added that there was an appeal for funds where Gh¢ 10,000 was raised and he has till now, not been able to render accounts.
“He has not been courteous to hand over the properties to his constituency, is such a person qualified to contest?” he asked rhetorically.
Asked whether they had officially registered their protest against him to the regional office, he responded that the regional chairman was his friend so he had not been able to take an action against him.
When he was quizzed on what would be the way forward should the Vetting Committee fail to respond to their complaints, at this juncture his friends who had gathered around him in one voice said- “We would vote skirt and blouse and the region should come and campaign for him.”
Speaking on behalf of Bella, Mrs Doris Osei-Frimpong, maintained that the Minister for Interior, Hon. Kwamina Bartels, who has stated that he was no more interested in the seat, instigated the demonstration.
According to her, when Bella became the Chairman of the constituency, Hon. Bartels saw him as a threat and started fighting against him.
According to her, they have the evidence to prove that Hon. Bartels was behind the demonstration.
Another group of demonstrators from the Ayawaso West Wuogon were divided for and against the current Member of Parliament, Madam Frema Opare.
Some claim she was disrespectful to the constituency executives while some praised her for the development that has taken place in the constituency.
There was some other group from Okaikoi South who came with two Neoplan buses to express their interest for Miss Vicky Bright, a Minister of State at the Presidency, who is vying for the seat.
According to the group, a female should be allowed to contest for the seat which has always been dominated by men.
Though there was no incident of vandalism, children were also seen demonstrating among adults.
From Koforidua Isaac Akwetey reports that the vetting of aspiring candidates of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Eastern region, was nearly turned into a boxing ring when the vetting committee disqualified some aspirants last Monday. But for the timely intervention of police personnel detached to provide law and order at the vetting venue, the regional secretary of the party, Mr. Alex Agbo and the 1st vice chairman, Alhaji Mandingo would have been subjected to severe beatings.
However, all efforts by the paper to speak to some of the national and regional executives of the party to find out what actually led to the chaos, proved futile. However, information gathered by The Chronicle from deep throat sources says the beatings and misunderstanding started when supporters loyal to Hon. Victor Emmanuel Asihene, East Akyem Municipal Chief Executive, who is one of the aspirants received information that their candidate has been disqualified by the vetting committee chaired by the National Organizer of the party, Mr. Lord Commey.
The furious supporters who started singing and chanting war songs such as “Our Eyes are Red, We Shall Kill the Regional Chairman” among others, virtually brought the vetting proceedings to a halt for almost two hours. A former Constituency Organizer of the party in the Abuakwah constituency, Mr. Yeboah, who is also the campaign manager of Hon. Asihene, described the vetting process as bogus and unfair. According to him, the NPP party is bigger than any other person in the party and no individual or group should be allowed to destroy the party. He continued that attitudes such as blackmailing and undermining if not checked could undermine the democratic process of the party. Touching on the forth-coming general elections, the former organizer said the NDC is a very tough customer to deal with; therefore the party needed its full house to ensure a sound victory. He therefore called on the rank and file of the party to immediately institute a damage control committee to bring peace, understanding and unity to the party, especially individuals who have been affected in one way or the other. Mr. Yeboah further advised the party executives not to allow themselves to be influenced by material things, even when they know that a particular candidate is incapable of occupying such positions.
Explaining why the MCE was disqualified, he said a misunderstanding broke out between the MCE and one of the constituency executives who were engaged in some fraudulent acts and called on the MCE to cover them, which he refused. According to him, the constituency executives since then had not been on talking terms with the MCE, hence they decided not to sell the nomination forms to him (MCE).
The MCE, however, decided to purchase the form at the regional head office, processed and paid everything to the regional chairman but was disqualified for not purchasing the form from the constituency. In all, 126 candidates went through the two days vetting process, which started from Sunday and ended on Monday.
Story by George Kyei Frimpong & Isaac Akwetey