PHOTO: Parliamentary Aspirant Sprays Cash For Votes

Thursday’s nationwide filing of nomination forms by presidential and parliamentary candidates ahead of the 2016 general elections saw a rare public shower of the Ghana Cedi notes by the parliamentary candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC) for Bolgatanga Central, Thomas Akurugu.

The 44-year-old chartered accountant, moments after submitting his forms at the office of the Electoral Commission (EC) in Bolgatanga, stood within the sunroof of a black Tundra pickup and, without a break, fetched and threw cash from there at a jubilant crowd of party supporters and casual observers. Before then, he had floated above a sea of heads, held in the air by a web of arms from a crowd that carried him like a celebrated monarch into the EC's office to tender his forms.

The fetch-and-throw moments sparked hard-hitting collision among the crowd in a rush for cash as the fresh notes rained down, largely in the one-cedi denomination, in a measure of tons astonished observers compared to the falling confetti that often greet the lifting of a champions' league trophy. The aspiring Member of Parliament, who also showered money on bystanders and traders as he wheeled through the streets of the capital in the company of men and women wearing PNC-branded paraphernalia amid heavy drumming and spirited dance, told a mini-rally crowd at the Golden Jubilee Park the time had come for the constituents to vote for a true pathfinder.

“They’ve taken you for granted. Tell them this time that the power is here (in the voters’ hands). Think positively before you vote. Don’t vote because Thomas is PNC, NPP or NDC. Vote because Thomas is your son, your father, somebody who takes your problem up there (pointing in the direction to Parliament) and brings them back.

“I am capable. Tell them your yes is your yes. Money or no money, you are voting for Thomas Akurugu. Let’s join hands together to follow me to the Promised Land,” the candidate said as the crowd cheered back in the party’s slogan- “Too sure! Too direct!”

Disgruntled NDC supporters spotted at PNC rally

The sharp division within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Bolgatanga Central appears to only be deepening by the day.

The conflict is deeply rooted in some strong verbal attacks and counterattacks seen especially among the camps of three aspirants- Isaac Adongo, Emmanuel Opam-Brown (the sitting MP) and Abraham Amaliba- in the buildup to the party’s parliamentary primaries conducted late in 2015.

In the aftermath of the internal election, which Isaac Adongo won with 4,290 votes, supporters of Mr. Amaliba, who polled 3,052 votes, and the camp of Mr. Opam-Brown, who obtained 2,956 votes, openly vowed to vote “massively” against Mr. Adongo at the major elections scheduled for December, this year.

Whilst Mr. Amaliba is said to have repeatedly encouraged his disappointed loyalists to vote for the parliamentary candidate, his followers are reported to be bent on doing the opposite. And they clearly affirmed that position when scores of well-known NDC members, identified to be Mr. Amaliba’s admirers, were spotted in PNC-branded souvenirs at Thursday's rally. The disgruntled NDC supporters, who said they had not defected to the PNC, participated fully in Thursday’s submission of the PNC forms, the street float and the mini-rally with the same passion they had always exhibited at NDC events before the internal rift came about.

“We cannot give our votes to Isaac and we won’t also give it to NPP. We are going to vote for Thomas in the parliamentary and for President John Mahama in the presidential. Isaac Adongo’s supporters only insult and fight. They are not ready for any unity,” a member of Amaliba’s camp, who does not want his name mentioned for fear of attacks, told Starr News from among the mini-rally crowd.

The latest development comes just about 12 hours after Amaliba had told the media that Adongo had recommended his removal from the campaign team for the constituency- a claim the parliamentary candidate has strongly denied.

Barely 48 hours ago, the Upper East Regional Chairman of the United Cadres Front, Noble Asakeya Alagskomah, also announced cadres would soon “consciously expose” some saboteurs within the party said to be campaigning against President John Dramani Mahama’s second-term bid by deliberately urging NDC members in some constituencies to vote “skirt and blouse”.

PNC, NDC clash over rally venue

A clash erupted Thursday between the PNC supporters and the NDC members over a temporary use of the Golden Jubilee Park in Bolgatanga for a mini-rally.

Both parties, after submitting their nomination forms at the EC’s office in the municipality, had planned to climax a street float with an open-air campaign gathering. On the morning of Thursday, the PNC supporters assembled at the park and streamed out from there into the streets in a first float that ended at the EC’s office.

A second float, after the filing of the forms, took the supporters back to the park for the planned rally. But as they were putting things in order, constituency and regional executives of the NDC appeared at the scene to paste campaign posters and hang the banners of Mr. Adongo at the same venue. Altercations exploded between the two parties after the PNC’s Upper East Regional Secretary, Albert Adongo, strongly objected to the move.

“We secured the place earlier. I have a document in my car as I speak- to use the place today and it was approved, paid for, only for us to see the NDC tying some banners. I approached them. They said there is no problem; it’s a public place; we can all compete for the space. I said no, no, no; we have secured the place for the place.

“Before I could turn my face, I saw posters all over there- of their parliamentary candidate. They said if I don’t agree I can do whatever I want. I went and reported to the police who were around that we did not want any problem,” the PNC’s regional secretary told Starr News.

The NDC’s Deputy Upper East Regional Organiser, Haruna Issaka, declined to speak to the press when approached at the scene. The conflict ended after the NDC executives removed the posters and banners they had fixed around the premises and, then, left the scene for the nearby St. John’s Park before the police arrived.

The parties’ performances in Bolgatanga Central since 2008

The Bolgatanga Central Constituency, as shown by statistics and portrayed by some analyses, is an undisputed stronghold of the NDC. Internal cracks, however, have, since the year 2000, remained a major threat to the party’s unquestionable grip on the coveted seat.

The NDC’s Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown in 2008 (before the Bolgatanga Constituency was divided between the central and the east) won the seat with 28,656 (57.7%) votes. Mercy Alima Musah of the NPP got 10,063 (20.2%) votes. David Apasera attracted 10,009 (20.1%) votes with CPP’s Evelyn Lamisi Anabila polling 640 (1.3%) ballots. Anyema Robert Abiiro of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) gathered 229 (0.5%) and Solomon Atiah Awuni of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) gained 97 (0.2%) votes.

The 2012 polls saw the NDC’s Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown acquire 28, 144 (59.12%) votes. Dr. Gheysika Agambila of the NPP obtained 13, 464 (28.28%) votes whilst the PPP’s Robert Analmoga garnered 3,523 (7.40%). The PNC’s Lawyer Rockson Akugre attracted 2,260 (4.75%) and Saeed Jafar Mohammed of the National Democratic Party (NDP) got 216 (0.45%) votes.