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11 Feb 2014

Probe Rawlings’ Nigeria funding of NDC claim

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Dr Kobby Mensah, a Political Marketing expert of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) has asked the state investigative bodies and the Electoral Commission to probe a recent revelation by former President Jerry John Rawlings that some Nigerians intended to fund the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ahead of Ghana’s 2008 elections.

According to Dr Mensah, the laws of the land place restrictions on foreigners financing political parties in Ghana, hence the need to probe Mr Rawlings’ claim for clarity.

The former military leader, while speaking in Wa during the 38th anniversary of the 4 June 1979 uprising, said: “I used to have a secretary called Victor Smith; we fell out. It wasn’t so much because of disagreement over John Mahama and yet that’s what he’s touting. And yet I guess he like a few of us who want to be president have stepped back being promised, of course that he will make them running mates, I presume.

“Listen, why did I turn against this boy called Victor Smith?” the former military ruler asked. “He (Mr Smith) was my Secretary. Some Nigerians invited us to the USA – I had left office – to come and give a talk and commission some business for them.

We went. When we returned, subsequently – months or how many years later – when Prof Mills was our flag bearer, then this Nigerians decided to help, so, they were dealing with my office, Mr Victor Smith. Now I subsequently heard about it because there was a to-and-fro over this money, contribution issue till somebody finally called me that this is what is going on: ‘They know me, they want to give me the money and I can pass it on, not give it to Victor Smith and Victor Smith is saying that: ‘no, he would take it to the prof, [because] I’m not the one who is going to be the candidate,’ blah blah blah blah that type of rubbish. So, they come out through somebody and said: ‘This is what is going on.”

Mr Rawlings continued: “Eventually, the contribution did not even come. It did not come. I did not receive any contribution from them, through Mills, through Smith, or directly through the person who came to see me also and I don’t believe that they sent it to Mills and I don’t believe that Prof Mills received any money from that place because I think they got fed up with the way this man was behaving.”

“And yet, when the time to pour poison on me started, this secretary of mine was telling the world on radio stations that contribution was coming for a certain nationalistic duty and he had stopped it and diverted it to the flag bearer. In other words, he had stopped it from coming to me. I was disgusted that this guy would make up such a story. And you know the one who angered me the most? Our Prof Mills who knew the truth but kept quiet for this poison to burn me – I was fraudulent,” Mr Rawlings complained.

But speaking in an interview with Valentina Ofori-Afriyie on Class91.3FM’s 505 news programme on Monday June 5, Dr Mensah said: “We know that the constitution as well as the Political Parties Act talks about where political parties get funded. One of the many means is about private funding or donations from private people but the constitution makes it clear that the individual funding or contribution to the political party must be a citizen or can be an organisation but the organisation also has to have 75 per cent ownership in terms of its capital by citizens, i.e. Ghanaians….

“If former President Rawlings is talking about the Nigerians, could they have used an individual who is a Ghanaian to make that donation and would that actually be considered okay? We need to answer this question and those stringent measures must be brought to the book so that some of these issues will be investigated.

“I think what the firmer President said needs to be investigated. The Electoral Commission or the right institutions need to investigate the statement because it is coming from a very high-ranking person of this country.”

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