Executives of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) over the weekend, had the rudest shock of their lives, perhaps the first of many to come this year, when a fund-raising ceremony they organized to solicit for funds for the 2016 campaign, was evidently deserted by party members in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.
The flopped programme, attended by the party’s presidential hopeful, Nana Akufo-Addo, and his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and a few others, was only able to draw a handful of supporters into the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
The spectacle left many wondering whether the NPP is as vibrant in its stronghold as before. The event additionally, left people questioning organizational competence of the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP, Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, also known as “Chairman Wontumi”.
It further left the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) feeling confident about its “Operation One Million Votes in Ashanti”.
Ex-Ashanti Regional Minister, Lawyer S.K Boafo, sometime last year, stated publicly that the NPP was dying in the region. Last Saturday’s event, appears to have proven him correct.
A copy of the programme of activities headlined “Save Ghana Now” indicated that guests were to be seated by 8: AM, but sources say, the flagbearer, arrived at the stadium at 3:15, delaying the entire show. The lateness of Nana Addo, this paper gathered, was because he wanted a sizable crowd in the stadium. But it was never to be.
Activities such as praise and worship, words of exaltation, offering, appeal for funds, photo session, auction, and a raffle draw to be conducted by the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, were highlights of the programme.
Speakers included, acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, ex-President, John Kufuor, Dr. Bawumia and Nana Addo.
Meanwhile, the much-publicized fund-raising ceremony planned to form the basis of the 2016 campaign funds ahead of the November 7 presidential and parliamentary elections, totally flopped, because it coincided with big funerals under the auspices of the Asantehene, Otumfour Osei Tutu II.
Kumasi on Saturday as usual got very busy with the final funeral rites of the late Apagyahene, the funeral of the current Apagyahene’s mother, and that of the late Professor Kufuor, elder brother of ex-President, Kufuor.
According to sources, Otumfuor, who sat in state to receive mourners, took the shine off the NPP’s activity, coupled with the fact that, peerless ex-president Kufuor, could also not attend, because of his brother’s funeral.
It was thought that, the Ashanti Region, being the stronghold of the opposition party and with its respect for the dead, the fund-raising ceremony, would have been postponed by the NPP regional executives led by “Chairman Wontumi” to allow people mourn with the bereaved families, including Otumfuor and ex-President Kufuor.
But some political watchers have said that, the big funerals couldn’t have played a major role in what happened last Saturday, because long before the publication of the programme, a youth group within the NPP, National Federation of NPP Youth led by one Okuma Kwaku Gyan, spoke strongly against the organization of the programme, because he alleged that earlier initiatives by the party to raise funds, have not being accounted for.
“The fight against corruption must begin within our party in order to build the confidence of the Ghanaian people that the NPP is not just ready to govern, but, capable of dealing decisively with corruption for the growth of the country”, their statement noted.
Somewhere last year, the 72-year old three times flagbearer, travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) for a similar exercise, where he allegedly took 100,000 pounds from a secret ECOBANK account of the party. But the moneys raised at the function, has since not been accounted for.
Speaking on Accra-based Montie FM last week Friday, reinstated NPP Constituency Chairman of Fomena, Akwesi Nti Asamoah said, all was set for the programme predicting a very successful ceremony.
According to Mr. Nti Asamoah, there was a segment on the programme, which was going to afford party members the opportunity to take photographs with Nana Addo for a fee.
He said, a picture with Nana Addo, was going to cost GHC100.00, whiles one with Dr. Bawumia, was pegged at GHC50.00.
Mr. Nti Asamoah, who was last year suspended for allegedly organizing party members to Accra to demonstrate against the removal of the party’s chairman, Paul Afoko, said executives of the party, were also billed to wash vehicles of anybody, who was interested to contribute to their course.
The pictures of the empty stadium, have gone viral, especially on social media attracting comments from both supporters of the NPP and the governing NDC, including a former Ashanti Regional Minister, Joseph Yammin, who questioned the credibility of Chairman Wontumi.
The former Ashanti Regional secretary of the NDC said on his facebook wall “My brother Chairman Wontumi said he has sold 20,000 tickets in advance, but the 40,000 seater stadium is only accommodating them at the VIP section which has a capacity of 3,000 seats. Hon. SK Boafo, wo buo nie”.
Some supporters, who could not hide their shame, left the fund-raising exercise and were spotted with alcoholic beverages and khebabs, turning what was billed to be a serious programme, into a hub for boozing.
The flopped first national fund-raising ceremony, was put together by a political science lecturer of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Dr. Amoako Baah, whose Phd is being challenged by the university.
The lecturer, who has over the period, been described by the media as a neutral commentator on political issues was spotted at the stadium giving directives.