FRESH CRISIS has hit the Ashanti Regional branch of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), following reports that some constituency and polling station agents had boycotted the party’s ongoing biometric registration exercise, and the upcoming limited voters’ registration by the Electoral Commission, as a result of the non-payment of allowances due them.
A deep throat source told the paper that some aggrieved constituency and polling agents had gone to the extent of seizing the machines for the registration, and are demanding the immediate payment of allowances promised them during the 2012 general elections, where the party eventually emerged victorious.
They are protesting that until the allowances are paid to them, they would not release the machines, let alone participate in the registration process. Additionally, selected officials who will be undertaking the registration have also expressed their displeasure at the refusal of the national executives to release funds for the training of trainees, two weeks after commencement.
The ruling party has launched a nationwide programme to collect biometric data of its members at both the regional and constituency levels, and issue them with new biometric cards. According to information gathered by the paper, the party began a two-week training of trainees programme for those who will be conducting the exercise in the region, but the exercise, according to information, has since been truncated, due to the failure of the party’s headquarters to make funds available.
Aside the boycott of the flagship biometric registration exercise, the party’s Ashanti Regional branch is also said to be fuming with rage over reports that the government had allocated money, running into several millions of Ghana cedis, to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) towards addressing the erratic power situation in the region.
The ruling party is said to be displeased with the decision by the government to earmark the amount to the electricity supplier, in reaction to the recent demonstration by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). An angry leading member of the party told this reporter in an interview that they were not happy with the way President Mahama has been handling things of late, more especially, the decision to respond to the recent demonstration by the NPP.
To them, it is a subtle endorsement of the claim by the NPP that the government was discriminating against them.
“When the NPP made those claims during their demonstration, the party disagreed with them, so if, today, the government turns round and gives money to ECG to address [the] energy problem in Ashanti, then it means what the NPP people were saying are true, that is our problem,” the NDC leading member ranted.
Meanwhile, the acting Regional Secretary of the party, Mr. Raymond Tandoh, has denied the report of the seizure of the bio-metric machines because of the non-payment of allowances. He told The Chronicle in an interview that it was rather some polling agents who were asking for an additional budget to be provided to cater for the upcoming limited registration exercise to be undertaken by the Electoral Commission.
The acting Regional Scribe explained that when the national office presented the budget for the two exercises, provision was made for only four people in each constituency, but the region, after a careful analysis, suggested that an additional two be added to make it six, in order to ensure a smooth and efficient registration. According to him, since the budget did not cater for the additional two persons recommended by the regional executives, they did not benefit fully from the national budget, and had to be given some token.
Mr. Tandoh noted that it was those people who were demanding that they be provided with a full budget to cater for the upcoming limited registration exercise, stressing that the people were not demanding, as was being speculated, but were rather asking. The NDC Regional Scribe further stated that the party’s biometric registration had not been interrupted, as was being rumoured, and that everything was moving on smoothly, according to the party’s timetable.