Political pressure group, Solidare Ghana is calling on government to render accounts to Ghanaians on how much it cost the state to organize the recent Assin North by-election, in which the embattled NDC MP of the area, James Gyakye Quayson was reaffirmed as the choice of the masses, in spite of criminal proceedings against him.
Simply put, the by-election was necessitated by a Supreme Court ruling that the MP violated Ghana’s constitution in running for office while he was still a Canadian. The law bars any person who holds allegiance to another or other countries apart from Ghana, from being a member of Parliament.
Critics of the Supreme Court ruling have said repeatedly that the MP applied for the cancellation of his Canadian citizenship before he put himself up for election, and by the time he was sworn into office, his Canadian citizenship had been cancelled, so he was not a Canadian at the time he became an MP.
But the Supreme Court still insisted that he violated the law by putting himself up for election while his application for cancellation had not yet been granted.
Meanwhile, Gyakye Quayson is said not to have duly informed the Electoral Commission of Ghana of his Canadian citizenship and application of cancellation of same before they even allowed him to run. Yet, the Electoral Commission failed to show up in court to testify to that.
Following the removal of Gyakye Quayson from Parliament, a by-election was held on June 7, and he won again; this time with even a bigger margin, even though the government has now put him on criminal trial with the intent to jail him.
Several government officials, including even President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have openly stated that Gyakye Quayson will be jailed, even though the law courts are yet to decide on that.
Solidare Ghana thinks the whole by-election was needless, time wastage and a wasteful application of scarce state resources. They are therefore demanding accountability from the government on how much it cost the state in funds, man hours and human resource to organize a by-election that resulted in what already was.
The group believes such an exercise will give the state and the citizens a good idea of what needless by-elections cost the state and why they should be avoided.
Below is the full seven point statement from Solidare Ghana.
- In solidarity with the people of Assin North in particular and the Ghanaian taxpayer in general who had been taken through long periods of uncertainties, lack of representation and losses, we seek to encourage Ghanaians to demand, that the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, under the auspices of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, do account to the nation, the cost incurred by the state in engineering and conducting the recently-held Assin North by-election.
- This demand for accountability, emanates from the fact that Ghanaians in exercise of their free choice, voted for the NPP government to superintend over the affairs of state and bring about development in the lives of the people, as freely promised to do by the President and his team, and more importantly to do so in judicious manner. Therefore, it is important for the media, academia, traditional authorities, civil society and all concerned players in the nation building effort, to demand publication of the cost incurred in the conduct of such a forced electioneering exercise, in order to help inform the Ghanaian taxpayer and help determine, whether the taxes paid to the government have been put to a good use or not.
- Besides the manpower lost in three weeks over the electioneering campaign, it is our considered view, that the cost born by the Electoral Commission of Ghana, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces, and all other state institutions including the office of the President and Vice President, in the conduct of this Assin North by-election, runs into millions of cedis, which the Ghanaian taxpayer has paid for. These financial losses, are in addition to the painful and sad demise of an Assin North-based woman who was a wife and a mother of four kids. The losses recorded as a result of this completely avoidable by-election, are indeed irrecoverable. The next logical process, is for Ghanaians to get to know the amount spent to conduct this by-election to enable us determine for ourselves, if this NPP-engineered exercise was worth our money.
- In a cash-crunch economy like that of Ghana’s, it is unconscionable if not wicked, for a ruling party to pursue a matter that leads to huge cost to the taxpayer, and yields no dividends towards the lives of the people. The social contract established with the ruling politicians, after years of campaigning and convincing the same Ghanaian taxpayer to vote accordingly, is to better manage the resources of state, and bring about development in the lives of the people. The mandate given to the NPP government is not to dissipate the inadequate public resources in pursuit of the partisan interest of the NPP. That is not what the people of Ghana signed on to when we went to the polls to elect the government in 2016 and 2020.
- Ghanaians must have the opportunity to look at the amounts of money spent on Assin North and ask ourselves, if the taxpayers money spent by the state in pursuing the re-elected James Gyekye-Quayson, could not have been put to a better use in providing a medical facility for some deprived communities, or to fix broken bridges in the countryside, or build six-unit classroom blocks to rescue some schools under trees that we ingloriously have in abundance in this country.
- The choice by the ruling NPP government, not to do any of such projects mentioned above, for the electorates to enjoy, but opt to invest much-scarce state resources in creating this by-election situation, must become an open book for the next generation of politicians to learn from. The lessons learnt from this wasteful exercise must guide future leadership in this country, not to repeat such a venture. This is a sure way of learning from the mistakes of the past, and chatting a better way forward for Ghana to avoid such wasteful expenditures, refocus our resources to develop our communities faster and become a developed nation in our lifetime.
- We must all help posterity to judge any benefits that this country gained, in removing from Parliament and thereby forcing a by-election, a man whose personal files and citizenship documentations on the day of his first election on 7th December, 2020, did not change, and remained so, even on the day of his second election on 27th June, 2023. Conscience is a superior judge than any law as claimed to have been properly interpreted by any court, but in the meantime, the Ghanaian taxpayer deserves to know the damage done to the public purse in creating and conducting this needless and avoidable by-election.
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