As part of our coverage of the 2020 elections, YEN.com.gh, on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, interviewed the founder and national chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Akwasi Addai Odike.
King Amoah, our correspondent in Kumasi, interviewed Odike, on the challenges confronting political parties ahead of the December elections.
Our manifesto: This is what YEN.com.gh believes in.
A key highlight from the discussion was Odike's call on the government to financially support all political parties, using part of the Covid-19 fund.
This, the politician said, would ensure a fair and balanced election campaign in the country. Below is the full discussion between the UPP founder and our correspondent:
YEN: Good afternoon, Mr. Odike. I am King Amoah, a correspondent for YEN.com.gh.
Odike: Thank you and welcome for accepting my invitation.
YEN: Mr Odike, what message do you have for Ghanaians and, for that matter, the government regarding the upcoming December 2020 elections?
Odike: Thank you for your question, but before I can utter a word, let me, first of all, extend my warmest greetings to the numerous readers of Yen.com.gh and Ghanaians in general.
Gentleman, my brief message is on the lack of effective campaigning by political parties that are financially handicapped and cannot disseminate their campaign messages effectively across the country.
YEN: How do you mean?
Odike: Ok, delving into issues critically on the political landscape, one can conclude that the Covid-19 restrictions have virtually forced many political parties to remain indoors, and unable to embark on rigorous campaigning across the country in order for the citizenry to form their own judgement on which political party deserves their votes in the upcoming polls.
Besides the restrictions, financial issues are also part of the challenges confronting many parties in their campaign ambitions.
YEN: So what is the alternative measures can political parties adopt in order to deliver their campaign messages without hindrances?
Odike: You see, I think the best thing we can do to advance our political campaign is to engage the media, both print and electronic platforms, to disseminate our message; but, mind you, the cost involved is also a matter of concern.
YEN: So what is the way forward? Are you saying that you and other political parties are ready to go out to solicit campaign grants to ensure that your dreams come true?
Odike: Absolutely no.
YEN: If your answer is no, why don’t you relax and manage your little resources for your campaign ambition instead of making comments?
Odike: I have an urgent message I want YEN to forward to the government and, especially, the president for serious attention so far as the election campaigns are concerned. That is what compelled me to invite you here.
YEN: Please go ahead.
Odike: Alright, my problem now is that in order to ensure balanced, effective and competitive political campaigning in the country, I wish that the government could sponsor all the political parties’ campaigns with part of the Covid-19 funds, including the $1 billion IMF grant to Ghana.
You see, many political parties have good policies and manifestoes that people want to know about in order to make informed choices during the elections.
However, financial challenges are preventing some political parties from making this information available to Ghanaians.
YEN: Sir, as a political party leader, can’t you find other avenues to seek financial support for your campaign like the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are doing?
Why have you set your sights exclusively on the Covid-19 funds? Again, are you suggesting that other parties that are currently campaigning in the media and across the country have been sponsored secretly by the government or you suspect foul play somewhere?
Odike: Your question seems somewhat dicey to answer, but in my opinion, as an experienced politician, I have my constitutional right to voice out my grievances for government attention to clarify any issues that beat my imagination in the country.
May I also ask you a question on whether parties are ready for loans elsewhere for their campaign ambitions.
Look at this crucial stage where the Covid-19 pandemic has virtually crippled every business in the country and even abroad; where should the political parties go and seek financial support?
I also wish to set the record straight that I don’t mean the government is using state funds to sponsor some political parties as your question suggested.
YEN: Are you sure that there are enough COVID-19 funds to satisfy your demand, taking into consideration the huge expenses government makes daily on the pandemic. Also, what will you do if your request is rejected by the government?
Odike: My brother, I can say for sure that the government can meet the demand to financially help the political parties to disseminate their campaign messages in the media if the act of sycophancy is avoided.
Look, during the lockdown periods in Tema, Accra, and Kumasi, see how the government lavishly spent huge sums of money to feed the people, yet many people never benefited from the package.
So why cannot the government sponsor this all-important national exercise that could aid the efforts to select a genuine leader to steer the affairs of the country?
By the way, I will not take any action against the government if it considers my demand as not necessary. However, the good people of Ghana will judge the issue and form their own judgment.
YEN: Do you have any advice or suggestion for Ghanaians ahead of the elections?
Odike: Yes, my brief advice to the good people of Ghana is that they should be wide awake and judge the bad conduct of politicians who use unrefined languages to attack political opponents as well as politicians who engage in bribery to entice people to vote for them.
Ghanaians should also treat such politicians with contempt and vote them out of the contest in advance since they will not implement good policies when the mandate is given them.
At the same time, Ghanaians should stay resolute and protect the peace and unity the country is enjoying because any disturbance to the peace of the country would affect the citizenry for a very long time to come.
YEN: Thanks so much for your time.
Odike: It's my pleasure.
From King Amoah in Kumasi.
Install our latest app for Android and read the best news about Ghana.
John Mahama's emotional moment on stage at the NDC's manifesto launch | #Yencomgh
Want to be featured on YEN.com.gh? Send us a message on our Facebook page or on Instagram with your stories, photos or videos