…. Kwabena Agyepong Celebrates Council of Elders
To the ordinary eye, the National Council of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), last Tuesday only ditched a decision by the party’s National Executives for a decentralised National Annual Delegates’ Conference for a centralised one scheduled for the Northern regional capital, Tamale.
But the real details are very shocking with suggestions that the NPP National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie alias Sir John, inflated the cost of running a centralized National Delegates Conference to buttress their choice of regional conferences.
The inflated figures run into several hundreds of Ghana cedis. The bloated figures were revealed in a leak correspondence between NPP National Chairman and the NPP Minority in Parliament, led by Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.
The NPP Parliamentarians, in an interim budget presented to it Council of Elders, mentioned that the conference which has been moved from March 1 to April 12, was rather going to cost GH¢686, 900; an alternative to the estimated GH¢1 million needed for the party’s centralised national annual delegates’ conference.
The NPP National Chairman and his General Secretary, had both publicly declared that the National Executives of the party decided to organise a decentralized national executive election by having delegates vote at the regional level to save cost.
Forty-six nominees, have filed to run for various positions in the party with about 56,000 delegates expected to vote at the event.
While Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey quoted GH¢1 million as the cost of holding a centralized National Delegates’ Conference, Mr. Owusu-Afrieyie quoted in Accra-based Radio Gold GH¢1.2 million for the same event.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, argued that the party needed an estimated GH¢1 million to hold a centralised election and that a decentralised system would have saved the party GH¢850, 000.
Some members of the NPP, including ex-Presidential Press Secretary, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, have publicly kicked against the proposed decentralised system. Some even suggested Jake and his colleagues did not want to account for monies that came into the party’s coffers for the 2012 electioneering campaign.
In the alternative budget, the 123-member Minority Members of Parliament (MPs), proposed to collective contribute GH¢316, 500 in addition to GH¢150, 000 from the National Executive Council (NEC) totalling GH¢466, 500. Meaning the MPs are bearing the burden of sponsoring the Conference, instead of Jake and “Sir John” looking for money to run the elections.
The MPs, advised that the balance of GH¢220, 400 could be realised through fundraising via donations or levying all patrons at all levels in the ranges of GH¢100 to GH¢2, 000.
Alternatively, the Minority suggested that the balance of GH¢220, 400, could be realised from MPs’ partial prepayment of filing fees in the upcoming parliamentary primaries. Each MP is required to pay GH¢1, 792 in that regard.
The budget covers logistics, GH¢10,000; Conference venue, GH¢50,400; transportation, GH¢290,000; feeding and water, GH¢170,500; Accommodation, GH¢76, 000, Publicity, GH¢20,000, events organising activities, GH¢10,000 and contingency, GH¢60,000. It is meant for 5,500 attendants.
The proposal from the Minority MPs, follows a recent feud between Minority Chief Whip, Fred Opare-Ansah and party Chairman Obetsebi-Lamptey over modalities for holding the Congress in March.
In a tersely worded statement addressed to Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, the Suhum MP accused the Chairman of seeking to circumvent the party’s constitutional provisions regarding the election.
Mr Opare-Ansah, raised concerns about the party’s decision to decentralise the election in all ten regions, instead of holding it at a single venue as has always been the norm.
He also wondered why the party has not held its National Annual Delegates Conference since 2010.
In the letter, Mr Opare-Ansah indicated that NPP MPs were willing to help sponsor the election if it was held at a single venue.
He warned that losers in the election may drag the party to court for the first time in history if his counsel was not heeded.
According to him, a disagreement from the Chairman concerning his suggestions will smack of Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey’s “lack [of] integrity and a good sense of judgement to do what is right and proper for our party”.
Similarly, he argued that a disagreement by the National Executive Council (NEC) with his proposals would cast doubts on “the propriety of N.E.C. and create perceptions of unfair electoral platforms”.
In his response letter to the Legislator, Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey explained that the party decided to decentralise the election to save cost.
By his calculations, the party needed more than Ghc1 million to hold the election at a single venue and added that decentralising the process will save the party’s treasury GH¢850,000 since only GH¢150,000 will be needed to sponsor the decentralised election.
He said each of the party’s MPs – should the N.E.C. decided to hold the election at a single venue – will need to contribute GH¢6,910 as contribution towards making up for the GH¢850,000 deficit needed to supplant the GH¢150,000, part of which would have been realised from filing fees.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey said the decision by the leadership of the NPP is for the greater good of the party within the current circumstances.
Meanwhile, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong is in celebration mood over the decision by the NPP Council of Elders to have the election of the National Executives at a centralized venue.
Minutes after decision to hold the conference at Tamale was made, Mr. Agyepong wrote on his social media platform Facebook, “I’m excited the party has taken a decision to reconnect to our roots. The North is the bedrock of the UP tradition and I am glad the National Council has listened to voices of reason. 12th April and the venue is Tamale. Together we shall Rise Again!
Mr. Agyepong, is seeking to oust General Secretary “Sir John”. He recently described him as very poor in communication.