National Chairman of Ghana’s largest opposition party-National Democratic Congress, NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo says withdrawal from the grisly by-election at Ayawaso West Wuogon was the best decision that he has not regretted because it saved lives.
On January 31, 2019, hooded masked National Security Operatives armed to the teeth and deployed in Police armored vehicles invaded the Bawaleshie Presbyterian polling station, attacked and shot some supporters of the NDC during the by-election that saw the New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament, Lydia Alhassan, elected after the death of her husband, Mr. Kyeremanteng Agyarko, who was the incumbent MP at the time.
Six supporters of the NDC sustained serious gunshot wounds whilst dozens suffered minor injuries.
NDC immediately withdrew from the election
Samuel Ofosu Ampofo has since been accused by his critics in the party of being a coward hence does not deserve to lead the party into a crucial election such as the 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
However, speaking to the media in Koforidua on Thursday, November 24, 2022, after meeting 16 constituencies as part of his campaign tour in the region, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo stated that, the withdrawal from the by-election was a tactical decision taken in consultation with security experts in the party to protect lives of unarmed NDC supporters in the face of rampaging riffle wielding national security operatives.
“I have led so many by-elections in this country. Ayawaso West Wuogon was a different election. It was the only time state security agencies armed with assault riffle hunted down on Innocent people who were only going to vote. I will put the lives of my party people always first beyond any other consideration so that decision was not a unilateral decision. It was a decision I took in consultation with the party’s national security system -Naval Captain Asaase Gyiamah was the chairman of our national security committee, Totobi Quachie was the immediate past minister of National Security in our government and so these are people who were even with me when I was announcing our withdrawal, and other Senior people”.
He said, as a result of that decision Emil Short Commission was set up to investigate the violence which also led to passage of legislation disbanding vigilantism in Ghana’s politics.
“Government was put under pressure to pass a law against vigilantism and other offences and in 2020 vigilantism and vigilante activities were not seen in polling stations that is as a result of the tactical withdrawal from the by-election to save lives and properties”.
Samuel Ofosu Ampofo believes election is not a war to deploy thugs to cause mayhem but building resilient party structures at the grassroot to regional level will rather repel anything detrimental to the party.
“Obama said we don’t need strong personalities but we need strong institutions. What I am doing is to build resilient institutions at the branch level, ward level, constituency level, and at the regional level after all you don’t need one strong person to be in all 275 constituencies on election day. You can’t get one strong person to be in 40,000 polling stations on election day. You need strong structures, strong people that we will train”
He added “Will train the party agents one year before the election. We will build their capacity and give them the knowledge. Elections are won at the polling stations. You don’t need a machoman to win an election. You need a strategic person, a person who understands electoral system to do things right “.
Mr. Ampofo said he has led the party to establish security and intelligence desk, and attached legal experts to all Constituencies as part of preparation towards 2024 elections since the party and John Dramani Mahama have taken a position not to go to the Supreme court again.
Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo (born March 10, 1962) is an experienced politician who has passed through the ranks serving as an assembly member, and District Chief Executive for Fanteakwa North before becoming a Member of Parliament for the area
He is also a former Eastern Regional Minister and served as Minister for Local Government and rural Development. He is also a former National Organizer and currently National Chairman of the NDC seeking reelection for a second term but facing fierce contest from another experienced politician currently the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia aspiring to annex the position.
However, Mr.Ofosu Ampofo says he is confident of winning the election having led the party to improve its performance from 4.8 million votes to about 6.3million votes in 2020 presidential election, increased parliamentary seats from 106 to 137, and annexed the speaker of Parliament position for the party.
He added that under his leadership, retreats have been organized for the constituency and regional executives, party reorganization conducted to ensure that branches and wards of the party are activated toward 2024 polls.