The battle lines have been drawn as all five parliamentary aspirants for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Asante-Akim South Constituency have been cleared by the vetting committee to contest in the April 25 primaries.
The election which promises to be one of the fiercest contests in the Ashanti Region would see four stalwarts in the Constituency battling it out with the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Kwaku Asante Boateng, who is seeking a third term.
They are William Yamoah, a staff at the Office of the Vice President, Bice Obour Osei Kuffour, a former President of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Eric Amofa, a party activist based in the United Kingdom and Edmond Oppong Peprah, a Lecturer at the Kumasi Technical University.
Mr. Asante-Boateng has represented the people of Asante-Akim South in Parliament since 2013 after defeating the then incumbent, Mrs. Gifty Ohene- Konadu in a keenly contested primary in 2011.
As the Constituency Chairman then, Mr. Asante-Boateng defied all odds to defeat Mrs. Ohene-Konadu who was believed to be the frontrunner for that contest. Also in the race was Charles Nana Yaw Osei, a private legal practitioner and Oppong Peprah.
The MP went on to retain the slot in 2015 when he came face to face with Mr. Oppong Peprah, winning by a landslide. As the incumbent, it is expected that all his opponents would throw missiles at him by punching holes in his achievements in their quest to oust him, making him the candidate with the toughest task of convincing the delegates to give him another mandate.
It is worth noting that the dynamics for this year’s primaries is a bit different from the previous ones, considering the fact that three of the aspirants are new entrants who come to the fray with rich history of occupying leadership positions through elections.
Certainly, they are not deficient when it comes to strategies for winning election and could be a real force to reckon with. Same can also be said about the incumbent who also snatched the seat from a very strong incumbent when no one gave him a dog’s chance.
So who are these five distinguished men seeking the mandate of the 761 delegates for the single slot to represent the people of Asante-Akim South on April 25.
Mr. William Yamoah is a native of Atwedie who had his basic and secondary education within the Constituency before proceeding to the Wesley College where he obtained a certificate as a professional teacher. After teaching for a while, he gained admission at the University of Education, Winneba where he was an active member of the Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON) of the NPP.
His active involvement in student politics paved way for him to become the President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) between 2006-2007. Mr. Yamoah later studied outside the country where he contributed immensely to the NPP both home and abroad.
He joined the race with a vision to improve the welfare of the people and push for accelerated development of the Constituency. He believes these can be achieved when particular attention is paid to youth unemployment, support farmers to increase yield and improve education and health infrastructures.
Probably the youngest among the contestants, Mr. Amofa is seen as the dark horse in the race who must not be taken for granted. Although he is based in the United Kingdom, he is believed to have done extensive consultations at the grassroots in the last three years.
Born in Juaso, the Municipal capital, Mr. Amofa had his basic and secondary education in the Constituency after which he obtained a diploma in journalism at the Institute of Business Management and Journalism in Kumasi. He then proceeded to the then Kumasi Polytechnic for his HND in Marketing. After working with the Asante Akyem Rural Bank for some years, he moved to the UK where he studied for his BSc. Business Management, MA Social Work and MSc. International Banking and Finance, all at the University of Salford.
As an activist of the Party abroad, Mr. Amofa has been instrumental in various NPP Chapters in Nottingham and Manchester. He believes Asante-Akim South which is one of the largest constituencies in the Ashanti Region has all the resources required to develop, but what it is lacking is leadership. He intends to woo investors to boost the local economy and create job opportunities for the youth if endorsed by the delegates.
EDMOND OPPONG PEPRAH
This is the third time the Kumasi Technical University Lecturer is contesting the incumbent, having lost to him twice previously. Mr. Peprah has managed to establish himself as a household name among the delegates due to his previous participation in the contest. Since declaring his ambition to go to parliament in 2011, he has embarked on several projects in the area of education in the Constituency. Notable among them is the organization of quiz for basic schools at his own expense.
As an educationist, he would leverage on his experience in the sector to invest in educational infrastructure to raise the standard of education in the Constituency.
BICE OBUOR OSEI- KUFFOUR
Bice Obour Osei-Kuffour, popularly known as “Obour” is a household name in the entertainment industry. He has seen it all as a musician, having been President of the umbrella body of musicians in Ghana for two consecutive terms. Politics is, however, a rugged terrain which is obviously worlds apart from the music industry. That notwithstanding, his opponents, especially the incumbent must not take him for granted on the grounds that he is a novice in the political arena, at least for his capability to lead all musicians in Ghana.
Through the Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation which was set up in memory of his late mother, Obour has been supporting young girls by providing for their educational and personal hygiene needs. The former MUSIGA President in the last few months has led the youth of various communities to embark on clean-up exercises. He has also provided poly tanks to some key institutions, including the Juaso Police.
He is campaigning on community development, job opportunities and grassroots welfare as a strategy to improve the livelihood of the people. This, he is confidence, would transform the lives of the people and give true meaning to leadership at the Constituency level.
KWAKU ASANTE BOATENG
The incumbent who is seeking to become the first MP in the Constituency to win a third term since Ghana returned to constitutional rule in 1993, is believed to be the most likely candidate to win the election. This, according to political observers in the Constituency, is largely due to a lot of achievements that he can point to since becoming MP.
Mr. Asante Boateng is the kind of politician who talks less but always manages to achieve results. He has a track record of defeating opponents touted as favorites, but end up winning with huge margins. As the incumbent, it is expected that he would heavily rely on the numerous projects and interventions provided for the people of Asante-Akim South to persuade the delegates to renew his mandate.
One of the key interventions is the provision of scholarship for dozens of needy students across the Constituency to pursue their academic dreams. Mr. Asante Boateng is also credited for the extension of mobile network to 13 communities under the rural telephony project implemented by the Ministry of Communication through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC).
The 33 kilometre Saabo Junction-Kumeaboi- Banka road currently under construction is also one of the legacies of the MP. He was also instrumental in the on-going resealing of the Juaso Presby-Obogu-Kumeso road.
All the candidates believe they have the qualities to lead Asante-Akim South and are positive about their chances of winning the contest. The key question is whether the incumbent would succeed in breaking the jinx and win a third consecutive term or any of the other four candidates has what it takes to pull the brakes on his audacious ambition.
Checks in the Constituency suggest that the MP has a very good working relationship with the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Alexander Frimpong and the entire Constituency executives. While some people hold the view that the situation would play to the advantage of the incumbent, others believe that delegates are unpredictable hence there could still be a surprise on April 25.