Ghana’s opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has congratulated the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) for holding a “successful” presidential and parliamentary primaries over the weekend.
The Elephant kinfolk acknowledged the John Mahama-led administration has taken a giant step in expanding its electoral college, however, it said the party is only taking a cue from what they already started.
“We note that the NDC has taken a cue from the NPP's great expansion of our electoral college in 2010 which saw the dramatic increase in numbers of delegates from about 5000 to over 140, 000. Five years later, the NDC has taken the expansion in numbers of voters to a new level with the opening of eligibility to all card-bearing NDC members. This has seen their numbers ballooning from about 4000 delegates to over 1 million voters. This is a significant development that further enhances grassroots participation in internal party democracy,” a statement from the communications director of the NPP Nana Akomea said.
He, however, said the pockets of violence and disturbances which nearly marred the internal polls should serve as a lesson for all parties in Ghana.
It added: “We, however, also note some negative occurrences that marred the otherwise successful primaries, which events should serve as lessons for all political parties in the organization of primaries.
“These negatives include reported violence, including aspirants suffering assault, reported kidnappings of rival supporters, free for all fights, destruction of ballot boxes, snatching of ballot boxes, ransacking and locking up of electoral commission offices.”
“Incidents of intimidation reported also including reported deployment of "land guards" and the military, to intimidate voters;
“Disputes over the parliamentary registers were also rampant with reports of deletion of names, fraudulent manipulation of constituency registers to favour particular candidates, and outright destruction of registers;
“Name calling and insults were also rampant, especially in the run up, with aspirants accusing others of employing voodoo and other underhand efforts. There have also been reports of tribalism and ethnicity being employed in campaigns, as well as reports of vote buying.
“These negative incidents should serve as warnings for political parties in our organization of primaries. They also signify the need for political parties to come together to brainstorm on new measures and rules of engagement that can limit these negative occurrences during primaries or elections in general.”
Akomea stated: “We also have been quite surprised at the defeat of some rather loud contestants including Messrs Derek Adjei, Kpessa White, Abraham Amaliba and Peter Otokunor. This shows that loud soundings on radio do not necessarily indicate popularity. President Mahama's endorsement by 95% of the NDC voters may be seen in NDC circles as overwhelming.
"However some trend analysis indicates that President Mahama's performance may actually be on the decline.
We note that as the incumbent, President Mahama enjoys all the huge advantages of executive presidency. He also had no contestant. He nevertheless also engaged in a massive nationwide campaign in the run out to the flagbearership primary.
“His 95.1% endorsement compares not too favourably with Nana Akufo Addo's 94.3%, considering that Nana Addo did not enjoy any advantages of an incumbent presidency and faced contests from three other party stalwarts.
“In 2011, President John Evans Atta mills, against fierce competition from Mrs Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, secured 96.7% of valid votes cast. President Mahama in 2012, unopposed, secured 99.5% of valid votes cast. In 2015, still unopposed, President Mahama secures 95.1% of valid votes cast, a worse result than President Mills, and a loss of more than 4% of his (president Mahama's) own endorsement in 2012.
“We have been told by at least one parliamentary contestant that a lot of bribe giving, cajoling, begging and tears had to be employed in order to reduce the numbers of no votes. In the absence of no contestant, the 'no’ votes also imply that nearly 5% of NDC supporters prefer anybody than President Mahama. This should be food for thought for all.”