It Is emerging that Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, hired James Afedo – one of former President John Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) communicators – as her Communications specialist ahead of the 2016 general elections. James Afedo was a lackey of Stan Dogbe, the trusted aide of then President Mahama, and was being paid $2,500 monthly (about GH¢10,000).
He was among the NDC faithful, who formed the ‘Movement for Mahama,’ to champion John Mahama’s 2012 presidential aspiration – which he won controversially. Afedo was the group’s spokesperson.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that when the eC boss’ attention was drawn to Afedo’s connection with the NDC, she brushed it aside, and goaded him on to work for her, raising suspicions about the alleged agenda to fix the election for the NDC.
Former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Martin Amidu, has claimed that Charlotte osei’s appointment was to aid in rigging the 2016 election for John Mahama.
The allegations of engaging the NDC man first surfaced in the petition filed by some unnamed staff of the commission who are seeking to trigger impeachment proceedings against Mrs. osei.
Currently, the EC boss and her two deputies – Amadu Sulley, in-charge of operations and Georgina opoku-Amankwa, incharge of Corporate Services – have been trading accusations and counter accusations since the petition was sent to President Akufo- Addo.
Another petition has roped in the two deputies over allegations against them, and a committee to be set up by the Chief Justice is expected to investigate the three – including Mrs osei – after the president had forwarded the petitions to Sophia Akuffo (the Chief Justice).
The petitioners have claimed that the money being used to pay the consultants is a grant from the USAID and that it was being done without recourse to the Ministry of Finance.
“The Commission procured grant from USAID as part of the support of the 2016 General election. This facility was signed by the then Minister of Finance. By Article 175 of the 1992 Constitution and in line with Section 5 of the Financial Administration Act, 2003 (Act 654), these grants constitute Public Funds. “As part of the implementation of this grant the Chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte osei, without the commission’s approval, unilaterally recruited a Personal Assistant and a Communication officer and paid them $1,500 and 2,500 United States respectively.
This was done without clearance from the Ministry of Finance,” the petitioners averred.
However, in her preliminary response, the eC boss shot back at her accusers, saying, “The Chairperson and the commission did not require the permission of the Ministry of Finance to utilize funds agreed with the USAID in the manner agreed by USAID in the Funding contract.
“All expenditure of donor funds is carried out in line with the policies of the donor agency. The petitioners would have to provide further proof of this requirement and show how in disbursement of other donor funds the commission has sought the permission of the Ministry of Finance.” She said, “The Chairperson followed the rules of the funding agency to the letter,” adding, “The Chairperson does not need the approval of the commission to appoint temporary staff and consultants deemed necessary and agreed in the Grant letter.
“Indeed, as part of the basket of donor support provided to the commission for the election, it was agreed by donor partners that the commission would require a communications consultant and that a personal assistant should be recruited for the Chairperson to support with managing the heavy workload of the election year.”
DAILY GUIDE understands that several pieces of advice to the eC that it was not prudent to appoint an NDC communicator as a Communications Consultant for the commission fell on deaf ears.
“The specialist was the person who was putting together the numerous press releases in the heat of the election and handing them over to the commission’s spokesperson to deal with the media,” a source claimed.
By Yaw Owusu