The Peoples National Convention (PNC) is divided on calls for the removal of Mr Hassan Ayariga as the party's flag bearer barely two weeks to go for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
A section of the party's supporters have claimed they have evidence to buttress their assertion that the PNC flag bearer was set up by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to divide the PNC even from the onset when he sought to contest for the flag bearer position.
However, the Upper East Regional Secretary of the party, Mr Henry Fatsu has expressed a contrary opinion on the attempts by his party members to remove the flag bearer at a crucial moment when election day is just around the corner.
He said he did not share the idea of removing the candidate and that the very people who were seeking the removal of Mr Ayariga were also alleged to have been bought by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to destabilize the PNC and gain some political credit.
Mr Fatsu who spoke to the Ghana News Agency on telephone from Accra, said: “The party is strong in the Upper East Region, members are going about supporting the campaigns of various Parliamentary candidates and we shall not bow to any pressures”.
He indicated that Mr Ayariga was funding most of the parliamentary candidates including his own campaigns and said the very people who wanted him out were the people who campaigned and voted for him to become the flag bearer, and questioned why they would suddenly turn around and accuse him of being bought by a different party.
Mr Fatsu recalled the imprisonment of Malam Issa, a Sports Minister during the NPP Administration and the brutish treatment of the late President Hilla Liman by the (P)NDC, saying that both parties for a long time had sought to disintegrate the PNC without success. He wondered why some party members should stab the party in the back now.
He noted that the demand to remove Mr Ayariga would involve interpreting the party’s constitution which would mandate a congress and said within the short time left for the polls, and considering the party’s financial stand, it was not prudent for members to call for the removal of the candidate.
Contrary to the Regional Secretary’s opinion is Madam Agnes Atayela, Regional Chairperson of the PNC who said she strongly supported the removal of her party’s flag bearer without any reservations because the long standing suspicions some party faithfuls held against him has come to pass.
She expressed fury at the flag bearer and said since he was made the leader so many things have gone wrong in the party, mentioning the flag bearer’s ineptitude and deliberate attempt to kill the party by flirting with the NDC.
She observed that the flag bearer had failed to make funds available to the party in the region and said in spite of the refusal of the leader to resource the Parliamentary candidates in the region, most of the candidates were doing very well and had brighter chances of winning their seats.
She indicated that the party had regretted for bringing Mr Ayariga on board only for him to become a stooge and to lick the boots of the NDC at the expense of the party.
She expressed her support for the immediate removal of Mr Ayariga as flag bearer of the party, adding “it is better to go for election now without a flag bearer than to have a flag bearer who is deceitful”.
The Regional Secretary however said Mr Ayariga’s performance at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) debate was in accordance with the rules and regulations set by the Institute.
She added that Mr Ayariga’s performance on that platform had improved remarkably and wondered why his own party members would suddenly turn against him at this crucial time when he needed them most.
The PNC Parliamentary candidate for the Bolgatanga Central Constituency, Mr Rockson Akuguri, indicated that a dismissal request by some party members at a crucial time to election was not a prudent option.
He said even though the party’s leader had erred by allegedly throwing his support behind a different candidate when he was a candidate himself, Mr Ayariga should be pardoned for his action. “I believe he erred but it is too late to call for his dismissal, he could be reprimanded but not dismissed”, Mr Akuguri added.
Mr Henry Adivila, a sympathizer of the party indicated that the removal of Mr Ayariga should have come a long time ago. “The speculations that he was flirting with the NDC came to light during the early days and even from what we have heard about what the NDC was doing for him secretly, it is politically inexpedient. So the decision to get him off should have come long ago”.
The PNC has a large following in the Upper East Region, especially in Bolgatanga and has produced parliamentary candidates from the region since the inception of the Fourth Republic.
Mr David Apasera had served two terms as Member of Parliament for the Bolgatanga Central Constituency on the ticket of the PNC and currently the PNC holds the Builsa South seat.