Former President John Dramani Mahama has waded into the 275 buses procured by acting Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Freddie Blay, subtly mocking him.
“$11.4 million Freddie Blay buses ahead of NPP election financed by Universal Merchant Bank? I thought Merchant Bank was sold to my brother, Ibrahim? So Ibrahim Mahama’s bank financed the 275 buses for Blay & NPP? LOL!” Mahama tweeted on Friday.
$11.4 million Freddie Blay buses ahead of NPP election financed by Universal Merchant Bank?
I thought Merchant Bank was sold to my brother, Ibrahim? So Ibrahim Mahama’s bank financed the 275 buses for Blay & NPP? LOL! pic.twitter.com/kmAJP7Lnlv
— John Dramani Mahama (@JDMahama) July 6, 2018
Freddie Blay has been in the news for personally procuring 275 buses for all NPP constituency offices across the country, ahead of the party’s national delegate’s congress on Saturday, where he is contesting to become the substantive Chairman.
According to reports, Mr. Blay, as a guarantor, paid 3 million dollars which constitute 30% of the total cost of 11.4 million dollars and has taken delivery of the first 100 mini-buses.
The issue has generated public outcry with opposition political parties and civil society organizations describing it as vote buying.
The bank, which reportedly helped Mr. Blay to bring in the buses – UMB—a private bank, was once alleged to be owned by brother of John Mahama, Ibrahim Mahama, a claim he has rejected. The allegations were made at the time when the bank, formerly Merchant Bank was sold and re-branded to UMB.
Mr. Mahama took to Twitter to make fun out of the issue after Mr. Blay’s spokesperson Richard Nyamah, revealed that the mini buses were not free gift, and that his boss had contracted a loan from UMB to purchase the cars, and that the constituencies will pay for them over a two-year period through a commercial use of the buses in a management deal with State Transport Company, STC.
Mr. Blay’s spokesperson has argued that plans for the buses were done in 2017, and that it was only a coincidence that the shipment occurred at the same time the NPP’s National Delegate’s Conference was being held.
Special Prosecutor to investigate Freddie Blay
Meanwhile, the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, is investigating Freddie Blay on how he funded the purchase of 275 buses for all 275 constituencies of the party.
A source at the Office of the Special Prosecutor said that Mr. Amidu will go ahead with the investigations whether or not Mr. Blay wins this Saturday’s election.
The source said Mr. Martin Amidu is of the view that, Mr. Blay is a public officer as a Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), and also as a national officer of the governing party with influence, he falls under the Criminal offenses Act (1960) Act 29, and must therefore be questioned on his source of funding.
For many critics including one of Mr. Blay’s opponent for the Chairmanship slot, Mr. Stephen Ntim, the gesture is simply a vote-buying tactics and nothing more.
Anti-corruption campaigner, Vitus Azeem, has backed the Special Prosecutor’s decision to probe Mr. Blay as a public officer on his source of funding for the purchase.