Following the opening of nominations by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to elect parliamentary candidates for constituencies with sitting MPs on April 25, 2020, there has been a lot of hue and cry about the process in the Ashanti Region.
While some party officials intend to ‘protect’ some of the Members of Parliament (MPs) for them to go unopposed as a reward for their good work for the party and the government, others believe that the decision is undemocratic and that the contest should be opened to all for the best candidates to win and represent their people.
Since the opening of nominations on January 20, 2020, the Ashanti Region, which is the stronghold of the party, has been awash with ‘controversies’, with some aspiring candidates accusing the regional and constituency executives of colluding to deny them the opportunity to pick nomination forms.
There have been some arguments for MPs such as those for Suame, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, to go unopposed due to their contributions in Parliament, to the government and the party.
The constituencies that have some of the aspiring parliamentary candidates struggling to get forms to pick include Mampong, Asokwa and Suame.
A group calling itself the Asante Juaben Concerned NPP last Tuesday protested against the decision of the party executives to protect incumbent female MPs.
According to the party members, the decision taken by the party leadership was against the constitution of the party and democratic processes.
At Mampong, a former presidential aspirant of the party, Mr Francis Addai Nimoh, was unable to get a form to purchase as he was told by the constituency chairman that all the three forms released to the constituency had already been sold.
Mr Nimoh has consequently written to the Regional Chairman of the party, Mr Bernard Antwi Boasiako, for his intervention.
In the Asokwa constituency, the situation is not any different from that of Mampong. The only difference is that the forms were yet to be released to the constituency.
As of Monday, January 27, 2020 when Dr Nana Yaw Boakye, an aspiring parliamentary candidate for the constituency, went to pick his nomination forms, the party office was closed.
When contacted later, the Constituency Secretary, Mr John Papa Yaw Asare Bediako, told the Daily Graphic that the forms were yet to be released to the constituency and as such were not available.
He denied any machinations to deny anyone the opportunity to contest the sitting MP as was being portrayed by the aspirant.
A legal practitioner and aspiring parliamentary candidate for Suame, Mr John Darko, is at his wits’ end trying to purchase the forms to enable him to file his nomination.
All attempts to do so have, however, proved futile as the constituency claimed it was yet to be furnished with the forms by the regional executives.
When contacted, the Regional Secretary of the party, Mr Sam Pyne, refuted the allegation that the regional executives were protecting some MPs by withholding the nomination forms to those seats.
He said the executives had explained to the aspirants that the party was doing some work in the affected constituencies and as such the release of the forms would take a while.
He said the party intended to use one week to work out the differences in the affected constituencies for amicable resolution of the issues before releasing the forms.
He admitted that the party had withheld the forms to all the constituencies where there were sitting female MPs.
According to him, it was the intention of the party to let the female MPs go unopposed, but said there was the need to talk to the stakeholders to reach a consensus before making the idea public.
So far, he said, the party had released nomination forms to 35 out of the 44 constituencies that would take part in the primaries.
The party has already elected candidates for constituencies where it does not have MPs.
The NPP won 44 out of the 47 constituencies in the region.
The National Democratic Congress holds three seats in the region, namely Asawasi, Ejura-Sekyedumase and Sekyere Afram Plains.
The party has five female sitting MPs from the region. They hail from Juaben, Asokwa, Kwabre East, Bosome Freho and Afigya Sekyere East.
Writer’s email: Kwadwo.firstname.lastname@example.org