As delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) elect parliamentary candidates in constituencies where the party has sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) today, the stakes are high for a few incumbents whose reigns have come under serious threat.
The seats of Sarah Adjoa Safo (Dome-Kwabenya), Francis Asenso-Boakye (Bantama), and K.T. Hammond (Adansi Asokwa) have come under the spotlight following intriguing events in the lead-up to the polls.
Ms Safo survived the previous primary in 2020 by eight votes before going on to annex the seat.
For a greater part of the past three years, however, she was based in the United States, and party faithful, including fellow parliamentarians publicly questioned her loyalty, given the NPP’s numerical handicap in the hung Parliament.
She goes head-to-head with the Chief Executive of the Ghana Free Zones Authority Michael Oquaye Jr, who lost the 2020 internal contest narrowly, and Sheela Oppong Sakyi, a legal practitioner and strategist at the Office of the First Lady in a defining moment for the party’s fortunes in what has become a safe seat for the NPP in the Greater Accra Region.
In the Adansi Asokwa Constituency in the Ashanti Region, the incumbent MP and Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Hammond, one of the longest-serving MPs, is facing stiff competition from three others.
They are the Managing Director (MD) of the Ghana Publishing Company, Samuel Binfoh Darkwa; Dr Enoch Acheampong, and Kwabena Nkansah Asamoah.
It is expected to be a two-horse race between the incumbent and Mr Darkwa.
In the Bantama Constituency, also in the Ashanti Region, the contest is a two-horse race between the incumbent MP and Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye and Raphael Agyapong, a brother of former NPP presidential hopeful and MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong.
The delegates made up of polling station and constituency executive, electoral area coordinators, the council of elders and patrons, and founder members (if any), would decide the fate of incumbents and new entrants.
A total of 322 aspirants who were cleared to contest in the primaries will slug it out in 101 constituencies in 15 out of the 16 regions. The NPP has no seat in the Oti Region.
In an interview, the NPP National Director of Elections, Evans Nimako, said elections had been put on hold in Akuapem South in the Eastern Region, Mampong in the Ashanti Region, and Agona West in the Central Region.
Mr Nimako said the General Secretary’s office had been served with a court order in respect of the primaries in Mampong and Agona West constituencies, while that of Akuapem South was due to petitions received from the constituency and regional secretariats of the party.
However, the contests are expected to be keen and interesting in some constituencies in the Ashanti, Eastern, Central, Greater Accra, and Western regions where the seats are considered safe.
Other constituencies of interest in the Ashanti Region are Bekwai, Asokwa, Suame, Subin, Kwadaso, Obuasi West, Offinso North, Asante Akim Central, Asante Akim North, Asante Akim South, Afigya Kwabre East, Ahafo Ano North and Oforikrom.
For the Bekwai Constituency, four aspirants have put themselves up to succeed the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who is bowing out of Parliament after serving four terms.
Those gunning to occupy the seat are private legal practitioner, Ralph Poku-Adusei; Henry Opoku-Ware, Kinsley Opoku Agyemang, and retired Commissioner of Police (COP), George Alex Mensah.
In the Asokwa Constituency, two men are seeking to unseat Patricia Appiagyei, affectionately called Mama Pat. Mrs. Appiagyei is serving her fourth term in Parliament and comes up against Francis Nana Yaw Boakye and Edmund Kyei.
For the Suame Constituency where the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, is not seeking re-election after being in Parliament for seven terms, the four aspirants seeking to succeed him are Kwabena Osei-Adubofour, Pius Acheampong, John Darko and Maxwell Ofosu Boakye.
The contest in Asante Akim Central will be interesting as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), Kofi Nkansah is seeking to unseat the incumbent, Kwame Ayimadu-Antwi.
In the Eastern Region, the contest will be keen in Nsawam-Adoagyiri, where the Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, is seeking a fourth term bid in Parliament.
He is being challenged by the Director of the Ghana Library Authority, Hayford Siaw, and David Adu-Tutu Jr.
Incumbent MP and Deputy Minister of Education, Gifty Twum-Ampofo’s seat in Abuakwa North; Okere where six aspirants are vying to succeed the Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Dan Botwe; Ofoase Ayirebi where incumbent MP and Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, is facing a former Deputy Clerk of Parliament, Eric Owusu-Mensah and Maxwell Osei Gyamerah of the Ghana Revenue Authority, and Akyem Swedru where the Controller and Accountant General, Kwasi Kwaning-Bosompem, and a Tema-based private businessman, Jerome Kwame Okyere Akordor, will sort things out with the incumbent, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, are among the interesting places to watch.
In the Greater Accra Region, Ablekuma West will be among the tough grounds for candidates.
The incumbent MP and Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, is facing stiff competition from his sole contender, Roni Kwesi Nicol.
For the Ahafo Region, the main contest will be in the Tano North where the incumbent and Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Dr. Freda Prempeh, is facing stiff competition from Dr. Gideon Boako, the spokesperson for the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
The National Chairman of the party, Stephen Ayesu Ntim, in a goodwill message, wished the aspirants the best in the primaries and urged them to let the results propel them towards a resounding victory in the December general election.
“Let us demonstrate to the nation that the NPP is a party that values respectful discourse, healthy competition, and democratic processes,” he said.
Part of the protocols outlined by the party for the primaries said the police would be heavily present at all centers to ensure order before, during, and after the polls.
It added that the police, in collaboration with the Electoral Commission, had been mandated to prevent delegates from entering the voting area with phones or any photographic gadgets, while influencers, including “machomen”, had been warned to stay off the voting perimeter or risk being arrested.
It said the polls would start at 7 a.m. and close at 2 p.m., and that there would not be any proxy voting and no constituency would be allowed to replace the names of deceased delegates in the voter’s albums.
“The EC may decide to create additional polling centers at a voting center to speed up the process if the number of delegates is large,” it said.
“All voting will take place in an open place in the full glare of the public.
It is an offense for non-accredited persons to enter the voting perimeters,” it stated.