President John Mahama has denied reports suggesting he was bribing voters ahead of the December 2016 general elections.
It followed a publication in yesterday’s edition of DAILY GUIDE, which referred to a recent video in circulation in which the president was seen giving out cash to certain people while on a campaign trail. In another video footage, he was seen giving money to a Gonja chief in public.
Immediately, the story came out, the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Julius Debrah, was first to shoot it down, claiming that it could not be true because the president does not carry cash with him when he is out and that if anything at all, it could have been campaign leaflets he (president) was sharing.
Speaking on Joy FM’s ‘Super Morning Show’ programme yesterday, Mr Debrah, who has been paying courtesy visits to chiefs in the three Northern regions ahead of the elections, said although he had not seen the video, he did not believe the president would do such a thing.
“I believe sincerely that knowing President Mahama, he would not deliberately go to a market place and start throwing money around. He is a very experienced person. Having worked with him closely, I believe that under no circumstance will he be throwing money around,” he stressed.
The chief of staff indicated that “it is also possible that it could be a leaflet. Anytime the president goes round, he does not carry cash on him; and that is the tradition from generation so I will be very surprised if the president had cash on him.”
However, a source close to the president told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that the president gave out some money out of the goodness of his heart while campaigning in Accra and Sunyani recently.
According to the source, regarding the first incident in which the president was seen in the video, which has gone viral, President Mahama saw a little girl crying because some boiled eggs she was selling in traffic had been pushed down by enthusiastic supporters and trampled upon.
He therefore called the girl and gave her GH¢50 to compensate for the loss, the source added.
In the second instance, as narrated to DAILY GUIDE, the source said President Mahama gave a woman GH¢20 to compensate for her onions which had also been scattered and trampled upon.
There are other reports which suggest that President Mahama was seen giving money to a Gonja chief in public, which has raised concerns and also gone viral on social media.
The source claimed the president gave an amount of GH¢500 during the NDC manifesto launch in Sunyani after the chief had appealed for funds to go to the hospital to treat an ailment.
According to the source, President Mahama was worried about the impression being created that he was bribing voters wondering, “With over 12 million voters, how many people can a person bribe to win an election?”
Interestingly, President Mahama’s NDC Campaign Coordinator, who doubles as National Organiser of the NDC, Kofi Adams, raised doubts about the authenticity of the video footage.
Speaking on Neat FM’s morning show yesterday, he said, “I doubt the authenticity of the video. And I doubt that what the president gave out was money.”
According to him, “The president in the video pointed to one particular person to give out the gift. He might have done that for a reason. The president is compassionate and a giver. I don’t see anything absolutely wrong about that. There is goodness in giving just like how others are giving waakye and koko.”
In that video, the presidential convoy is seen moving at a snail pace on the streets of Sabon Zongo at Abossey Okai, Accra, with the president spotting a white cap on top of a black coloured T-shirt and responding to cheers from the crowd.
As the crowd cheered him on, he beckoned someone from the crowd to come and ordered his driver to halt.
He is then seen reaching out for money from the vehicle and giving it out to the person, who meandered his way through the crowd amidst tight security to take the money.
As the vehicle moved again, the president beckoned a few others to come and reached out for more cash from the vehicle and gave it out to them.
He repeated the gesture a number of times, as the crowd surged forward to grab his hand for some cash.
Since the beginning of this year’s electioneering campaign, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has shared a lot of goodies and freebies.
The media have captured the sharing of gas cylinders, roofing sheets, outboard motors, fish pans, pieces of cloth sewing machines, motorbikes, bicycles, mobile phones, laptops and a whole lot of commodities apparently to entice the electorate to vote for the party.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu