As the flagbearer election of the opposition National Democratic Congress draws closer, leaders of the party have intensified their subtle efforts to manage the contest to go the way of former President John Dramani Mahama.
Mahama forces in the party leadership are not only getting jittery, but coercive.
After several attempts to frustrate some of the aspirants, including hiking the nomination fees to a staggering GHC420,000.00, the intimidation games still persist, revealing itself in bullying.
This development has now trickled down to the regional level, with the Eastern Region taking the butt of the intimidatory acts in a case in which Prof Joshua Alabi, one of the candidates, is being blocked from prosecuting the second phase of his campaign in the region.
The campaign which started in the Upper West Akyem constituency is expected to end in the Afram Plains on Friday.
However, before Prof Alabi’s campaign team could start the campaign in the Eastern Region, Kevor Mark-Oliver, the regional secretary of the party, issued a statement directing the constituencies not to meet with the team.
According to Mr Kevor, “a notice from the Campaign Office of the Former President, H.E John Dramani Mahama to start Campaign from Friday 11th to Tuesday 15th of January, 2019,” had been received by the regional secretariat and the constituencies are therefore expected to “prepare to receive H.E John Dramani Mahama within the said period.”
Mr Kevor further ordered all constituency officers “to direct all other aspirants who wish to visit your constituencies to submit their itinerary to the Regional Secretariat” before they would be allowed to meet with the delegates.
Alabi’s team in shock
Speaking to the Daily Statesman on the development, Benjamin Essuman, an aide to Prof Joshua Alabi, said members of Team Alabi were shocked by the directive coming from the regional secretary.
Mr Essuman said the team had already written to the national office outlining the campaign itinerary of Prof Alabi, adding that before the team went to the region for the first phase of the campaign, the itinerary was drawn with the support of the regional organiser of the party.
“In the first phase, we met with the regional officers at Aburi. He (Kevor) was there and we made them know that we shall come again. It is surprising that Kevor is behaving this way,” Mr Essuman lamented.
Alabi not disturbed
He further stated that before the second phase of the campaign, they took hold of former president John Mahama’s itinerary and so knew when he would be going to the region. That helped them to plan to avoid a clash with him in the region.
“The former president will be coming from the Western Region. We have his itinerary. He will start from the Aburi and Akropong areas, from Accra, because from the Western Region, he would be going to Accra first, before the Eastern Region.
“We are already in the region. By Friday, we shall be in Afram Plains and move from there to the Ashanti Region. So, how is this supposed to be a problem?” he wondered.
Asked if his candidate was disturbed by the action of the regional secretary, Mr. Essuman stated that Prof. Alabi was focused on his campaign and would not be disturbed by the machinations to frustrate his and his campaign team.
“The statement has had no impact. We are still meeting with the delegates. Prof is focused. We are just meeting the delegates. We are only interested in selling to the delegates the message and the persona of Prof. Alabi and will not be distracted,” he assured Alabi’s supporters.