NPP primaries usher in fresh blood
by Kwabena Opong
The NPP parliamentary primaries held Saturday June 13 in 245 constituencies belied the much heralded and trumpeted instability in the party. The exercise was executed seamlessly in almost all constituencies. According to NPP General Secretary Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, the incidence free elections held nationwide is an indication that the party has put all the brouhaha behind it and focusing on the 2016 elections.
A significant feature of the elections, however, is the surprising defeat of incumbents many of who are experienced legislators. The Executive Director of the African Center for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Rasheed Dramani in his reaction to the impending changes following the NPP primaries remarked that the loss of 24 very experienced legislators would affect the effectiveness of the parliament already considered weak. The 24 NPP MPs who lost – six women and 19 men- include Dr. Richard Anane, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, Francis Addai-Nimoh, Joe Appiah, Esther Obeng Dapaah, W.O Boafo, among others. Francis Addai-Nimoh was among the five candidates who vied for the presidential nominations last year. Also among the vanquished is Mr. Isaac Osei, a former ambassador and chairman of the Cocoa Marketing Board who described his defeat as a victory for the NPP. Another significant change that emerged this time around is the number of young people who were elected to represent the party in the 2016 general elections. Even more poignant is the election of a 22- year old. The party’s national youth organizer Sammy Awuku stated that apart from 22-year-old Francisca Oteng Mensah’s feat at Kwabre East, same can be said of 28-year-old John Ntim Fordjour in Assin South among others who toppled five other aspirants including two professors to the candidature. Ms. Oteng Mensah is a law student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. In an interview she attributed her victory to the work she has done for the party since she was 16. While some NPP leaders see the emergence of youthful faces in the parliamentary party as a blessing, others believe it is a setback. Former General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie is among those who think that it is going to take the party some time to train the young prospects and that does not bode well for the party. He had this to say on Francisca Oteng Mensah: “We will have to train her. She is a novice. We will have to help her even in terms of taking her round to the chiefs and opinion leaders and all that.” Mr. Yaw Osafo Marfo, a senior member of the party and former cabinet minister on the other hand, sees the new faces of the party’s prospective MPs as a positive sign. “They bring hope,” he said following Amandla’s observation that the NPP is traditionally not very favorable to youthfulness and new blood.
Messrs. Kodjo Oppong Nkrumah and George Andah, both young and former media practitioners and entrepreneurs and novices to politics also won their respective seats. Oppong Nkrumah replaces incumbent David Oppon-Kusi who declared his intention not to contest his incumbency for the Ofoase-Ayirebi constituency. He declared after his victory that he was going to ensure unity among the party in his area following the rancor and bitter opposition he faced during the campaigns.
The peaceful nature of the elections notwithstanding, some defeated incumbents did not take kindly to their predicaments. Hon. Joe Appiah, Ablekuma North MP, for instance blames his defeat on former Minister and MP for the area Kwamena Bartels. Weija’s defeated MP Ms. Rosemond Comfort Abrah has expressed her intent to challenge the results, but the victor Tina Mensah, former deputy national women’s organizer dismisses the allegations of improprieties made by her opponent.
Former Mayor and MP for Asokwa Constituency Kofi Jumah also known as Kofi Ghana, took his defeat even further with his resort to destroying election paraphernalia including ballot papers and voters’ register. He was arrested immediately and is facing a criminal action at the courts. Mr. Jumah decided to register his displeasure with the proceedings when he realized that he was losing against his opponent Mrs. Patricia Appiagyei, the incumbent.
Primaries in 30 constituencies that were postponed for June 27 were held without incidence.
A a bye-election held in Talensi in the Upper East Region for a constituency that was vacated by a NPP MP who had to step down to become a chief in the area was won by the ruling NDC government.