As eligible citizens of the West African country of Togo prepare to participate in a poll slated to take place next February to elect their President, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lome, Philippe Kpodzro has launched an operation to solicit funds to aid a single yet-to-be-identified Presidential candidate in view of ensuring a veritable democratic and competitive contest that would see the beneficiary contender “win this type of election.”
“This Fund, to a range from 04 to 07 billion CFA (US$6.8million to US$11.8million), will allow us for once to set up the appropriate logistics to win this type of election, whose organizers, recognized by their poor history as licensed thieves, have done everything in advance to claim victory, a victory of which they will be the first to feel seriously ashamed,” Archbishop Philippe Kpodzro told journalists at a press conference in Togo’s capital, Lome, Tuesday, December 10.
Titled “Archbishop Kpodrzo Funds”, the initiative is expected to facilitate the gathering of “sufficient resources to support a single candidate from the entire democratic opposition, finance his campaign in a unified dynamic, ensure the representation and full support of his delegates in the 9,000 polling stations.”
The funds, whose collection is set to be through five bank accounts, would also be “used to set up citizen follow up committees around all polling stations in order to discourage any fraudulent maneuvers and ensure the compilation of the results, polling station by polling station, for a clear victory of the candidate,” the Togolese Prelate said.
In May 2019, Togo’s parliament approved a constitutional change permitting long-standing President Faure Gnassingbe to potentially stay in office until 2030. This was despite widespread protests calling for the end of his family’s decades-long grip on power, Aljazeera news reported.
Ever since they boycotted Legislative elections in December 2018, opposition parties in the West African nation have sought term limits and other constitutional reforms.
President Gnassingbe whose Union for the Republic party holds two-thirds of the seats in parliament has ruled Togo for 14 years since taking over from his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma.
During the Tuesday press conference, Archbishop Kpodrzo reiterated his desire to see the entire Togolese opposition rally around a single candidate in the February presidential election.
The Prelate seems convinced that the “salvation of the Togolese”, who are lovers of freedom, justice and political change at the top of the state, “depends on this mysterious and unique candidate of the opposition.”
“When I speak of a single candidature, I am relying on this mystical and mysterious force of our Religion. I firmly believe in it. And I am convinced that the salvation of the people of Togo depends on a single candidature,” Archbishop Kpodzro emphasized.
Asked about the identity of this single candidate, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lome said, “He (or she) will not be an “angel” fallen straight from heaven. This “rare bird” in which all Togolese must put (blindly) their trust will be found within the very heart of the nation’s true sons and daughters.”
“You wonder who this unique candidate will be. The time will come, you will know who this unique candidate will be,” he told journalists and added, “the Lord uses the most imperfect, most ordinary means to do his work so that man does not brag, so that glory may return to God.”
He continued referencing the yet-to-be-named beneficiary of the funds, “That is why the single candidate to whom I invite all the opposition, all the leaders of political parties and civil society to take as God’s chosen one to save the country and promote change … will be chosen among you.”
In the Church leader’s considered view, “all that the Lord God Almighty asks the Togolese people who aspire for change is to have “faith”, to have the courage to accept this unique candidate, whatever his physiognomy, his past, his aura, his weaknesses, his charism. The essential thing is to trust him and have faith.”
He appealed to the media to mobilize people of good will to provide the financial and material resources necessary to finance the activities of the candidate.
Special fundraising activities will be organized through different lobbying groups, he said, including fairs, charity sales, VIP Gala, shows and other events.
The move by Archbishop Emeritus Kpodzro seems to take to another level the message of the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (C.E.T) who, in a pastoral letter dated November 21, invited the Togolese government to initiate reforms in the electoral process to guarantee a free, fair and transparent poll next February.