Chaos has erupted on the campus of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic, disrupting a congress of the Tertiary Education Institution Network (TEIN) of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The congress, an event mainly intended for electing new executives of the network, saw disarray Saturday morning following the disqualification of one of the presidential candidates, Fred Awafo. The disturbing development has also been linked to a sharp disagreement over the timing of the event.
Starr News can report that electoral materials have been vandalised and scattered all over the school’s premises as more serious skirmishes float around the area.
Members of the association had swelled in their numbers this morning up in arms at the school because the names of some candidates reportedly had gone missing in the voters’ register.
Complaints had soaked the atmosphere earlier after the venue for the event, which initially was supposed to be the school’s main auditorium, was purportedly changed this morning to a place not known to a lot of the delegates.
Some of the delegates have, in the wake of the chaos, told Starr News they are surprised police officers are not on the premises to avert the looming bloody end.
Candidate disqualified over manifesto
Presidential candidate, Fred Awafo, was disqualified after he had presented his manifesto to a gathering of the TEIN members last Thursday on the school’s campus.
The outgoing president, Jonas Abugri Anyagri, is said to have cut him short whilst delivering the manifesto for alleged misconduct. The disruption drew razor-sharp backlashes especially from Mr. Awafo’s supporters who already in the buildup to the elections had been accusing the outgoing president of plotting the downfall of their preferred candidate.
Tensions became heightened after the candidate was handed a disqualification letter the same day.
The disqualified candidate alleged Mr. Anyagri disrupted his manifesto delivery because he did not support his bid to succeed him.
“Before he became president, he told me to campaign for him because someone recommended me as a vibrant person who can campaign massively for them to win. I said okay. But later on there was one competent fellow, too, who came. The guy is well known. Even the constituency and regional executives knew the guy. And I can’t leave such a person and go to campaign for someone because the person told me to campaign for him. Although he beat the guy by seven votes, it wasn’t genuine because the register was being kept by him as the organiser of the network at the time. That was where it all started,” Mr. Awafo said.
He added: “I was going unopposed initially in this election. But he went and brought someone to contest me. Information reached me that te guy told he didn’t have money and if he contested me he would lose. But he told the guy he would support him and that by hook or crook, he would win. There are other issues, so many things.”
Mr. Anyagri told Starr News the executive body of the network took that decision after they found out that the candidate was not fit to lead the association.
“What was in the copy of the manifesto he gave us was different from what he was presenting to the electorate. He was trying to deceive the entire association. We served him with a query letter. He was to respond but he failed to do so. That is why he was disqualified. Besides that, he had put it on TEIN whatsapp platform that if we did not vet him in, we would see the difference between a toad and frog, and that not even those who can reason for themselves can deal with him when he misbehaves
“Some of the executives said he should be disqualified because his character, as a candidate who is coming to lead in an election year, was a threat to our victory in 2016. This comprises myself the President, the Women’s Commissioner, the Finance Officer and the Vice President,” the outgoing president said.
Conflicting parties deny vandalism
Whilst tension continues to build on the campus, it has remained difficult to pin down those responsible for the destruction done to the electoral materials. The angry parties involved in the clash have all denied responsibility.
A disappointed vice presidential aspirant, Emmanuel Lambon, told Starr News Saturday morning the elections would not come off until “those issues are resolved”.
“Elections were not supposed to be held today because patron has given an order to that effect but they still said they would hold the elections. Besides, the register that was given to us does not tally with the register the EC (Electoral Commission) has. Therefore, we recommended they should be stopped because we have already informed our voters there are no elections today.
“But later on, we realised that they were still going to vote so that our people wouldn’t come, their people would come, they would vote and their favourite candidate would actually win. They said they wouldn’t agree. The electoral commissioner became angry and he, together with the other side, vandalised the materials on the road,” he said.
Meanwhile, the camp of the outgoing president also has rejected the claims that suggest it is carried out the damage.
Disqualification was reversed
Executives of the association have remained sharply divided over the disqualification. Some of them refused to append their signatures in the debarment letter.
The patron of the network, Nicholas Awuse, reportedly had asked that the election be rescheduled after some members had complained that a Saturday was not suitable for an election of that nature on campus.
A lot of students living far outside the campus, according to the disquieted members who are agitating for a working day, would feel reluctant to show up for the event considering the distances to be travelled. But some members of the opposing camp had pushed for the voting to be held on Saturday, saying many students could miss the elections for academic engagements if the elections were held on a school day.
The disqualification was reversed Friday but the outgoing president maintained that the elections would take place on Saturday as planned. He told Starr News he would be surprised if the EC officials failed to show up. His confidence was in stark match to the firm position announced hours before the chaos to Starr News by the disqualified candidate who said: “If they can disobey patron, we would also take the law into our hands and stop them, make so sure no one enters the auditorium to vote.”
The campus conflict is heading for arrests with the outgoing president claiming he has been issued with threats by his detractors.
“They have confronted two times; the first time on the campus, the second time on the road outside the campus, that they would deal with me. Should I wait for them to confront me a third time? I’m in talks with other executives to see to their arrests,” Mr. Anyagri said.
A meeting of some regional executives of the NDC, according to sources, was underway on the matter as of the time of filing this report.