Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has covertly interfered in the electoral process that led to the victory of Ghana’s opposition New Patriotic Party, NPP, candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in the just concluded Ghana presidential elections, The Trent can report.
According to a source with intimate knowledge of the situation, barely a week to the December 7, 2016 presidential election in Ghana, President Buhari approved the release of $75 million to the presidential campaign of Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP candidate, with the aim of installing him as the new president of Ghana. Just like General Buhari, Akufo-Addo, aged 72, ran his presidential campaign on the message of “Change”.
The Trent gathered exclusively on Friday, December 9, 2016 that President Buhari’s interference in Ghana’s presidential election was executed by a special delegation from Nigeria led by Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai who arrived Ghana days before the election under the guise of being an “election observer”.
According to first-hand sources, Governor El-Rufai, who lodged at the Movenpick Hotel Accra, displayed more than passing interest in the Ghanaian presidential polls. He propagated the campaign message of the leading opposition candidate in the poll, and also joined in unofficially announcing that Akufo-Addo had won the elections long before the results were declared.
“I can tell you for free that this election has been largely a Nigerian election,” a reliable source told our correspondent in Accra.
“A lot of Ghanaians are happy that they have had the chance to elect a new president but in actual fact, Akufo-Addo, the new president-elect of may have lost this election but for the last minute cash bailout by President Buhari.
“It is an open secret in Ghana that Akufo-Addo’s party, the NPP has suffered a protracted cash crisis owing to the exit of their party from power within the last eight years.
“The cash crunch was affecting their campaigns seriously until the bailout from Buhari. This helped a great deal in election day mobilization of voters, hiring of buses from Accra to different parts of the country to convey voters to their hometowns where they are registered to vote amongst other logistic concerns.
“This is an unprecedented interference in the politics of another nation that could have serious diplomatic implications between Nigeria and Ghana.
“Both countries have enjoyed a good relationship for years but this is one step that the Nigerian government under Buhari has taken too far,” the source, who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said.
President Buhari’s careless interference in the politics of foreign nations recently made news with reports that he donated $500 million to the Hillary Clinton campaign in the November 8, 2016 US presidential election.
A video, circulated by a US non-governmental group, the American Black Group for Democracy, had alleged that Nigeria donated $500 million (about N150 billion) to Clinton’s failed bid for the White House.
It claimed that the money was “pledged to the US Secretary of State, Sen John Kerry, and US Ambassador in Abuja” and added that “the donation may create a huge misunderstanding between Nigeria and the incoming Trump’s US government.”
The Buhari administration denied the allegations and slam the report as “fiction”.
Fresh allegations of Buhari’s involvement in the ‘removal’ of President John Mahama of Ghana may have pushed Nigeria further into the brink of a diplomatic war with Ghana resulting in far-reaching implications.
Asked why President Buhari would overstep his boundaries to interfere in the Ghanaian polls, the source disclosed that President Mahama’s rising influence within the West African sub-region and his impressive performance in Ghana’s infrastructure development was increasingly being used by Nigerians as a yardstick to measure the performance of Buhari’s lacklustre change administration in Nigeria.
According to an inside source in the Nigerian presidency, Buhari’s handlers were said to have been alarmed by the unfolding trend and how it could affect Buhari’s re-election in 2019, and then worked to convince the president that supporting President Mahama’s opponent in the Ghanaian presidential election was a worthwhile investment.
“It’s an ego trip for the president [Buhari],” the source said. “Apparently, inspired by reports of Russia’s interference in the US Elections, and craving a need for regional dominance, Buhari’s strategist felt that actively aiding the installation of heads of states in West African countries would boost his profile on the continent.”
A senior official of the Ghanaian government who did not want to be named told to The Trent on Monday, ahead of the election day, that the Ghanaian government has established confirmation of “external interference” from the Buhari government but was carefully considering the implications of any outright or diplomatic confrontation that could snowball into a serious crisis between both nations.
Earlier reports in the Ghanaian media suggest that Akufo-Addo had actually reached out to President Buhari for financial support. “Nana Addo has been in touch with General Buhari on a wide range of issues including appeal for financial assistance for his campaign. He has also been talking to him [General Buhari] to put in a word to convince President Mahama to compel Ghana’s EC to change the current voter register,” a source told News Ghana in March 2016.
Efforts by The Trent to contact presidential spokespersons Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina proved abortive at the time of this report.
Meanwhile, El-Rufai who is currently still lodged at the Movenpick Hotel, Accra, is said to be preparing to depart Ghana for Nigeria on Saturday after Friday’s official declaration of Akufo-Addo’s victory over incumbent President Mahama.