Former President John Mahama cut short his tour of the Bono Region on Tuesday, 22 September 2020 to avoid “disgrace” because he is unhappy with the turnout after his visit to Sunyani Odumasi on Sunday, 21 September 2020, the Bono Regional Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwame Baffoe (Abronye), has said.
Mr Mahama, the National Democratic Congress’ flagbearer for the 2020 election, announced he was cutting short his campaign tour due to several complaints with regard to anomalies in the ongoing voter exhibition exercise.
But Abronye, in a statement, said: “It must be noted empathically that the main reason for cutting short his tour in the region is that, yesterday [Monday, 21 September 2020] after visiting Sunyani Odumasi around 1 a.m., John Mahama was not encouraged about the turnout and for that matter, in a meeting held at Esubett with a session of his regional executives, he told them that to avoid any disgrace, he has to return to Accra and come back later after a better mobilisation has been done”.
“He was very furious with his regional executives after they failed to make proper preparations by busing people from Bono East, which is their stronghold, to the Bono Region”, Abronye said.
According to him, Mr Mahama, in 2016, insulted the people of the Bono Region, after the collapse of DKM and stated that: ‘Even his illiterate uncle will not engage in such a Ponzi scheme’, insinuating that all persons who traded with DKM are ‘senseless’”.
The NPP regional chairman noted that the people of the Bono Region have not forgotten about “those insults because they do not have short memories as John Mahama thinks and that is why they refused to step out to welcome him when he visited the region”.
“To add to that, throughout his visit, after seeing the good works done by President Akufo-Addo with regard to the road sector, infrastructure and other developmental projects and listening to the people’s feedback, he had no option than to return to Accra because no one paid attention to him,” Abronye said.
He added: “For the purposes of the record, I would want to state categorically that this is not the first time there has been abnormalities in exhibiting a voter register, that is why the process in itself is called an ‘exhibition’”.
“On this note, the reason [given] by John Mahama is unwarranted and unsubstantiated.”
Announcing the abrupt end to his tour on Tuesday, Mr Mahama said the Electoral Commission’s ongoing voter roll exhibition has been fraught with “so much disorder, anarchy and chaos”, adding that the election management body has exhibited “legendary incompetence” with the entire electoral process ahead of the 7 December 2020.
The flagbearer of the biggest opposition party, told party supporters in the Bono Region that since the EC started the voter register exhibition, “many have gone to check and in many places, there are anomalies, several anomalies that our party has detected”.
“In any exhibition of a register, there’ll be a few anomalies that are normally easy to correct but we also know that anytime we’ve done a registration of voters, we have done it in good time so that if there are anomalies, we can correct them”, he said.
“When this government and the Electoral Commission decided that they were going to do a new register, we warned them that the time left was so short that if you compiled a register and there were fatal flaws in the register, you will not have enough time to do the correction before the election”, the former President observed.
“And let me say a voter register is the most important document in any election. If the voter register is not credible or is full of errors, it makes it difficult to have a free, fair and transparent election”, Mr Mahama noted.
According to him, “as it is, recently, we saw a video of voter registration cards being issued and the video went viral. It turned out that these were EC officers issuing voter cards. Today, the EC issued a statement and admitted that, yes, these cards were being issued at the EC’s offices because of some duplications they had found out. The political parties are the main stakeholders in any election. And, so, while the exhibition of the register is going on, we have our agents at all the polling stations supervising the registration.
“Now, if there was an issue in compiling the register, where the codes of the codes of the various equipment were found to be duplicates, and it was necessary to issue voter cards, why were the political parties not informed.
“And the point even is, if you issue these new voter cards at your district office, how will the people whose cards are affected, know so that they can come and give back the old cards and give out the new cards?” he wondered.
In Mr Mahama’s opinion, “there is so much wrong going on”.
“The incompetence of this Electoral Commission is legendary. We have held elections in this country, we have held voter registrations in this country, but we have never seen a situation where there is so much chaos and disorder in an electoral process”.
He warned: “It has the potential to create crises in our country and that is why at a point, when I spoke, I said that the Electoral Commission should be prepared to take the blame if this country descends into chaos and they dismissed me”.
“Today, we don’t know if we are going to have a credible register because we are not confident in the process that is going on. There is too much anarchy and disorder. We are not sure that we can have a credible register with which to have a free, fair and transparent election”.
“And, therefore, because of the seriousness of the reports I’m receiving from my elections directorate, I’ve decided to curtail my campaign in the Bono Region and go back to Accra to ascertain and verify the reports and to make the views of our party known to Ghana and the rest of the world”, he announced.
Mr Mahama said it was important for the international community to keep its eyes on Ghana’s electoral process so as to ensure the process is clean.
“As things are going, we are not comfortable with the process going to the election and we call on the international community to take an interest in what is happening in Ghana”.
“We want electoral observers to come lone in advance; international election observers must be deployed long in advance to supervise the electoral process going into the election. We will make a major statement on this matter in due course, very soon”, he said, adding: “But in the meantime, I’ll suspend the campaign in the Bono Region, there are several constituencies that were expecting us today and tomorrow and the day after. I wish to apologise to them. As soon as this matter is addressed in Accra, I’ll quickly come back and finish the tour of the Bono Region”.