The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, has shot down claims of vote-buying against President John Mahama, who was captured in an amateur video, giving a young trader money, during a campaign tour in one of Accra’s popular suburbs; Sabon Zongo, near Abossey Okai.
The girl, who has not attained voting age, had her boiled eggs destroyed by a crowd that mobbed the presidential convoy in the area during his recent tour of the Greater Accra Region.
Critics of the government, especially members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), have described the president’s “act of compassion”, as a vote-buying move and an abuse of incumbency.
Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minority Leader in Parliament, had described President Mahama, as desperate to remain in office after the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections, therefore, has resorted to sharing cash to buy votes.
However, contributing to the debate on Multi TV’s Newsfile programme on Saturday, September 24, Mr. Baako said: “We watched the video carefully and that cannot be a vote-buying exercise, it cannot be, but I think it was also indiscreet”.
“There is a campaign team out there, when the president is out there, there is a campaign team with him, when such things happen, I believe communication is that effective among themselves for some party campaign elements to take care of that situation rather than the president himself going out to do those things in order to show compassion, to show that: ‘I’m human’; it can be misread, it can be misinterpreted…” he told host Samson Lardy Anyenini.
President Mahama, has admitted giving out money during a campaign trail as captured in a video which has gone viral on various media platforms.
The Daily Post Newspaper, which spoken to the President, while on his official trip to the USA, reports that the incident happened when they entered Sabon Zongo, through a narrow path with a heavy crowd following him.
The president who has since laughed off claims he was distributing money, explained to the paper that from the top of his vehicle, he saw a little girl with a tray of boiled eggs in the crowd being pushed by the cheering crowd amidst the jostling. The tray fell from the girl’s head and the crowd trampled on the fallen eggs. The girl then burst into tears.
Touched by what only he could see because of where he was standing, he ordered his convoy to stop the convoy and he then took GH¢50 from his ADC, pointed to the crying girl in the crowd and then reaching down from the top of the vehicle, gave it to a woman standing by her thinking she was with the girl.”
However, he was surprised to see the girl still crying, so he asked her if the woman was the mother. When the girl shook her head and he noticed the woman had moved away, he took another GH¢50 from his ADC and gave it to the girl. This drew wild cheers from the teeming crowd.”
President Mahama, recalled that it was even the crowd that helped the girl forward towards his vehicle to enable her take the money, because they knew he was compensating her for what she had lost. It explains why the people around were not scrambling for the money.
Also commenting on the video on Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis programme, NPP’s Communications Director, Nana Akomea, said President Mahama, was not ‘sharing’ money, adding the video shows the President single out some people and handed what was said to be money to them.
To him, the President was indeed, showing concern to a hawker whose wares might have been scattered as the convoy was passing.
Deputy Minister for Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, also said on the programme that he was grateful the incident was filmed.
He said, the video has enhanced the campaign of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), adding the President, does not need to buy votes to win the December polls.
Mr. Ablakwa, reiterated that the President gave out GHS50.00 to a trader, whose wares were destroyed as a crowd of people followed the President’s convoy.
The Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, had said the video was possibly doctored and Mr. Mahama, may have been giving out leaflets as the president does not move around with cash.
He said: “It is also possible that it could be a leaflet. Anytime the president walks, he does not carry cash on him and that is the tradition from generations. So I will be very surprised if the president had cash on him.”
But speaking in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra100.5FM on Friday, September 23, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the explanation was laughable, because it was glaring that Mr Mahama was handing out cash to the crowd.”
“Was it a toilet paper he was throwing to the crowd?” he asked.
“We have had a government that, for the first time, is bribing and sharing physical cash openly. It shows that John Mahama is very desperate. If you claim you have performed well in office, let those achievements speak for you. Why are you going about sharing money? Why are you buying Land Cruisers for chiefs? Why are you distributing sewing machines to people in the villages? If you claim the living conditions have improved under your government, why are you sharing these items to voters?
“Let the supposed improved living conditions of Ghanaians speak for you and allow the people to vote on their own convictions. It tells how desperate they are.”
Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, on Thursday dismissed the report, saying presidents do not carry money with them.
“It is also possible that it could be a leaflet. Anytime the president walks, he does not carry cash on him and that is the tradition from generations. So I will be very surprised if the president had cash on him,” Mr. Debrah said during an interview with Joy FM.
The explanation by Mr. Debrah is “comical”, retorted the Minority leader. “Was it a toilet paper he was throwing to the crowd?” he asked during an interview on Accra FM Friday, and insisted that the footage of the president’s sharing cash during his campaign tour is unequivocally glaring and indisputable.
“We have had a government that, for the first time, is bribing and sharing physical cash openly. It shows that John Mahama is very desperate. If you claim you have performed well in office, let those achievements speak for you.
“Why are you going about sharing money? Why are you buying Land Cruisers for chiefs? Why are you distributing sewing machines to people in the villages? If you claim the living conditions have improved under your government, why are you sharing these items to voters?
“Let the supposed improved living conditions of Ghanaians speak for you and allow the people to vote on their own convictions. It tells how desperate they are,” Mensah-Bonsu said.