Afriyie Ankrah’s confession: Our hands are tied; we can’t punish our funders
Former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, is advocating for a legal regime that will limit private persons sponsoring the electoral campaigns of political parties.
Government officials he said, sometimes intentionally pass questionable deals just to help these people to recoup what they invested in the parties.
“Check all the corruption related cases; from BOST to whatever, check, it is linked to campaign financing; there is always a financier there. Why, you think we are foolish people? Why is it that sometimes you ask yourself that ‘which sensible person will sign this contract, or will agree to this deal?’ Have you asked yourself that question? It is because our hands are tied,” he said Tuesday, at the auditorium of the University of Ghana Law School.
Afriyie Ankrah was contributing to a discussion at the national conference on rethinking political leadership in Ghana sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Afriyie Ankrah, who was removed from the Youth and Sports Ministry following a botched world cup campaign in Brazil in 2014.
He was also cited in Joy News investigations into corruption allegations in the award of contracts at erstwhile Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA), an agency his ministry had supervisory jurisdiction over.
Speaking at the forum, Mr Afriyie Ankrah said it was “almost unconscionable” to overlook persons who contribute to the political campaigns when the political party they funded comes to power.
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Speaking Wednesday on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Afriyie Ankrah revealed that one of the tasks given him in 2014 by then President John Mahama as Youth and Sports Minister, was to clean up the mess in GYEEDA. However, “the people that supported you, funded you, …are the ones you have to deal with.”
He said, dealing with such persons also brings a lot of pressure both from the political party in government as well as from the opposition party since such persons usually spend on the activities of the two major political parties- National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
“People who have given you T-shirts and money and other things and now you are dealing with them. It was almost unconscionable but it had to be done and in the process, some of us almost lost our lives.
“Because then, there are pressures [from] within and without because you are cutting off the source of funding for both parties [NDC, NPP] so they will come after you. So we have created a system that legitimises and institutionalises the corruption and then we say we want to deal with the corruption,” he explained.
The solution, according to the 2012 Campaign Coordinator of President John Mahama, is “to deal with the system. When you deal with the system, then you will no longer have to deal with this awkward situation where you will go and collect money from the person and when you come to power you have to investigate the person or pretend to investigate the person…”
The former Deputy NDC National Organiser who has had “practical experiences of what it takes to run an election,” lamented the odious amounts of money needed for internal party elections, as well as national elections.
“We have created a system where out of curiosity we have to spend millions, billions of money every four years to run an election…that is the system we [politicians] have created,” he told Daniel Dadzie, host of the Show.
He, however, says now is the time for the nation to have an honest but difficult conversation over this issue and reduce the huge amounts of money political parties spent on advertisements and buying logistics every four years when elections are held.
That will reduce the influence individuals have on politicians for sponsoring their campaign activities, he recommended.