Presidential Advisor on corruption, Daniel Batidam, has defended President John Mahama’s decision to distribute outboard motors to fisher folks during his campaign tour of the Western Region in August.
The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), had accused the President of abusing incumbency and indulging in electoral corruption, for distributing the outboard motors among other items.
According to GII, this abuse of incumbency became apparent when the Spokesperson of the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) campaign, Joyce Bawa Bogtari, revealed to the media that the distribution of the outboard motors and other items formed part of the state’s interventions.
But speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Batidam, who claimed he was not privy to the President’s move, strongly defended it, saying “the outboard motors that were distributed were actually included in government’s budget for the year.”
“It is not as though state items were suddenly being distributed but that the policy of government was approved.”
Mr. Batidam, who was once a campaigner for good governance and spoke strongly against corruption, said the President cannot be accused of abusing incumbency if he is taking advantage of an intervention that inures to his benefit.
“If it is just about saying that a President cannot undertake government policies or activities during a campaign period which are likely to inure to his benefit then I think we get the argument wrong because the same President would have to deal with any negative or disadvantageous situation that he has to encounter,”he argued.
The GII had already publicly chided President Mahama for the distribution describing it as worse than vote buying. The Executive Director of GII, Linda Ofori Kwafo, said it was “akin to abuse of office.”
Pro-opposition group, ‘The Truth Forum’, also cautioned President John Mahama to desist from what it called the distribution of freebies to buy votes ahead of the December 7 elections.
According to one of the leaders of the group, Yaw Buaben Asamoah, President Mahama’s gift giving on the campaign trail in the name of public policy initiatives is not only a waste of the country’s resources but demeaning to the country’s democracy.