Former Minister for Information, John Tia, has cited what he describes as open distribution of cash to delegates at election grounds by opponents of considerable wealth for his defeat at the regional executive polls of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) last Saturday.
The former Ghana Ambassador to Cuba, who was looking for the party’s Upper East Regional Chairman position, polled 49 votes from the 507 valid ballots cast inside the main conference room of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic.
He told Starr News Wednesday his rivals deliberately closed their eyes to the “foundations of our party” and misinformed the delegates before greasing their palms on the election day to reject him.
“You could see people taking sides, openly distributing money and openly threatening people— ‘Take this money and you don’t vote, we’ll deal with you’. The money was being doled out outside the conference room. But they were calling the delegates out.
“The conference went well, once we finished successfully without any problem. But I lost to money. I lost to money and the fear of instilling discipline into the system. They put aside the foundations of our party to wit probity, accountability and transparency,” disclosed Mr. Tia, who occupied the Talensi parliamentary seat for 20 years.
NDC’s downward Results in Upper East due to Inexperienced Leadership — John Tia
Mr. Tia said he went into the elections to protect and to boost up the electoral fortunes of the NDC in the region which, in his observation, were sinking as a result of inexperienced leadership.
“I was coming to this race with a lot of experience, with a lot of discipline in me, with a lot of mobilisation and to make sure that I strengthen the party’s structure for us to make an impact in this region. I just noticed that we have been losing and losing and the trend is going down and down, and it was due to lack of experienced leadership.
“As the years go by, we are losing members. We are losing our grip on the support base here. If you want to do things the usual way, that is what you’d get because you don’t reach out to anybody. You sit in the office as an armchair leader and nobody wants to come to you because you have locked yourself up. So, because I wanted to do things that would help the party and some people felt it was a threat to them, they worked against me. My message was well bought. But I was a target,” he stated.
Trend of NDC’s Performances against the NPP in the Region
The NDC’s John Evans Atta Mills obtained 188,405 votes, representing 56.06% of the 336,060 valid votes cast at the 2008 presidential election that saw Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) capture 118,454 votes, representing 35.25%, in the region.
The 2008 presidential runoff gave the NDC 223,994 (65.60%) with 8 parliamentary seats and the NPP 117,477 (34.40%) with 4 seats.
In 2012, the NDC’s John Dramani Mahama garnered 274, 019, which is 66.4% of the 412,437of the valid votes cast in the region. The NPP’s Akufo-Addo got 12, 0814 (29.3%) of the votes. The NDC captured 12 seats whilst the NPP and the People’s National Convention (PNC) gained 2 and 1 respectively.
The NDC’s performance at the 2016 presidential polls in the region dropped to 59.2% with the number of seats won still 12. In contrast, the NPP increased its tally to 34.2% of the votes and won 1 more seat in addition to the existing 2.
“NDC could have even won all the seats in the 2016 elections. The reasons why we lost were just things of managerial failures. If the regional secretariat had been up and doing, it would have been able to resolve all the problems that caused our losing those 3 constituencies,” the former diplomat noted.
He also advised: “Well, I said earlier that I came into this election with a lot of ideas— very bright ideas. And I believe that those who have won positions now, if they can buy into them (the ideas) and use them, we can still make a headway. But if they don’t buy into them, I’m afraid we may have problems in the region.”
The Ideas John Tia was bringing on Board against Vote Loss Syndrome
After diagnosing the NDC leadership in the region with a depth of inexperience he said had sequentially cost the party some votes, the veteran lawmaker also offered to the regional secretariat some curative ideas he said he was bringing on board as a regional chairman hopeful.
“I talked of strengthening the structures with education, training, appropriate tools for people to work. Like the communications wing. People cannot call themselves communicators when they don’t even understand the basis of communication. They don’t know research; nothing. Most of the constituencies don’t even have offices. I was asking them wherever I went, ‘Where are your records?’ Nothing.
“Nobody has ever been given that training as communicators. They don’t network in any way. They don’t know how to network to get information to go and debate. And I thought that all these things should come. The youths aren’t properly equipped. How to go out there to reach out to the people, how to spread your party’s policies and programmes and so on. People just virtually occupy the positions and sit down, only waiting for rally time,” pointed out the former Minority Chief Whip.
He added: “You must reach out to the people. You must be transparent. You should be selfless. Don’t think about yourself. Think about the people. You must be committed to the aims and objectives of the party. Actually, they have forgotten the cadres in the system; they have forgotten former government appointees in the system; they have forgotten a lot of players. The basic thing that ran through the Kwesi Botchwey Report was that there was a disconnect between the grassroots and the hierarchy.”