From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
EVEN BEFORE the whistle is blown for the battle of the two ex-mayors to begin at the Asokwa constituency for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary primary, the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, has fired the first salvo at his opponents.
Known for his spiteful comments and outspokenness, Mr. Jumah, popularly known as “Kofi Ghana,” did not mince words at all, when he dared his main challenger, cautioning that the battle at Asokwa could not be won by merely using bottom power, saying that the contestants would have to survive grueling rounds of elections.
“She thinks she succeeded me as a Metro Chief Executive, and because of that, she can unseat me as an MP. Let me tell her, she can use her bottom to secure the mayor position, but as an MP, it is about elections,” Mr. Jumah told a Kumasi radio station.
The member of the august House did not mention names. But it is an open secret in the Kumasi Metropolis that Madam Patricia Appiagyei, who succeeded Mr. Jumah at the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), has ambitions of entering parliament on the vote of constituency members at Asokwa.
The hot-headed NPP legislator stated that anyone deciding to challenge him for the Asokwa seat, must acknowledge the fact that the person would not have it on a silver platter, like someone did with the succession plan for the KMA post.
Speaking on Fox 97.9 FM morning drive show, hosted by Captain Kwadwo Smart, the obviously furious Kofi Ghana said, if he had any intentions not to even contest for the seat again, he would change his mind because of the decision by those who think they could translate their succession plan from the KMA to the parliamentary seat.
“If she says she wants to come; let her come, but she must know that this will be a battle of elections. She can secure [the] KMA position with the bottom, but parliamentary seat is won by election.”
Mr. Jumah, who was commenting on the story published in yesterday’s edition of The Chronicle, in which he was quoted as having expressed concern about the social and economic encumbrances imposed on him by his constituents, alleged that one particular rival had started challenging him at funerals and other public occasions.
He said when he was donating GH¢600 to bereaved families at memorial services, a particular opponent was secretly paying GH¢300 to people in influential positions in the constituency.
Mr. Jumah has been in the news in recent times, after news broke that many prospective candidates were planning to unseat him.
When the controversial MP was reached on phone to explain further what he actually meant by elections not being won with the bottom, Mr. Jumah admitted making the statement, but said he was not categorical, stressing that his political adversaries had deliberately put a spin on his comments, just to score political points.
He told this reporter that he was not perturbed about what somebody thinks or wants to do, because as far as he was concerned, he had not accused anybody.
“If I say that you can’t win an election with your bottom, have I mentioned anyone’s name; look here, what they are doing would only make matters worse,” he cautioned. Kofi Jumah has however apologized for the unfair comment when he spoke to Joy FM last night.
Signs of dirty campaigns and mudslinging appear to be rearing their heads in the opposition party, as it prepares to elect parliamentary candidates next year.
The incident at Asokwa follows similar clashes between incumbent and prospective candidates at both the Obuasi and Fomena constituencies, raising fears that internal party wrangling and altercation, which inundated the NPP at the national, regional and constituency levels, resulting in the eventual defeat in the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections, might be coming back.
The constituency secretary at Fomena, who recently resigned his position with the view to contesting the party’s seat, was reported few weeks ago to have subjected the incumbent MP, Mr. Abu Bonsra, to a barrage of insults on a local radio station, Kessben 93.3 FM.
A similar unpleasant incident was also reported to have occurred on Shaft FM, a local radio station at Obuasi, when the former Communications Director of the party, Kwaku Kwarteng, also clashed with the incumbent MP, Mr. Edward Ennin.
Meanwhile, some personalities and executives of the party in the Ashanti Region have expressed concern about what they described as unhealthy developments within the party.
A founding member of the NPP, Mr. George Ayisi, said the party would no longer sit down and allow individuals to drag the name and reputation of the entire party hierarchy into the mud.
He said elders of the party would meet with the regional executives to devise measures to ensure that the necessary sanctions were applied against anyone who went overboard, either verbally or by deed.
The Ashanti Regional Chairman of the party, Mr. Frederick Fredua Antoh, condemned the acts of insubordination, describing them as untoward and un-parliamentary.
He said the unfolding events were clear reflections of the level of indiscipline amongst certain individuals within the party, stressing: “It is up to their constituents to evaluate them and decide whether they are worthy of representing them.”