Big wigs of both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have converged at Kumawu, capital of the Sekyere Kumawu District.
They are desperately canvassing for votes for the parliamentary seat, which was declared vacant following the demise of Mr. Philip Atta Basoah. The Member of Parliament (MP) for the Kumawu Constituency in the Ashanti Region, Philip Basoah, died on March 27, 2023.
Mr. Basoah was born in 1969 and first came to Parliament in 2017 after winning the 2016 general election in the Kumawu Constituency. He was the Chief Executive for the Sekyere East District from June 2005 to January 2009, and was also a tutor at the Agogo State College.
In the 2016 general elections, he won the parliamentary seat with 21,794 votes, making 78.2% of the total votes cast on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party. In the 2020 general elections, he won the parliamentary seat with 14,960 votes making 51.1% of the total votes cast.
On Saturday, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his Vice, Alhaji Dr. Bawumia, the Chief of Staff, Mrs. Frema Osei Opare, and National and Regional NPP executives paid their last respects to the late MP.
With the interment and final funeral rites of the late Member of Parliament for Kumawu last Saturday over, the Electoral Commission (EC) is set to hold the by-election on Tuesday for a replacement.
The by-election has generated interest among the two leading political parties -the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition NDC, with the former giving indications of retaining the seat and the latter being confident of snatching the seat.
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, Benjamin Banobio, says the EC has conducted its final training session for staff last Friday, and that all the materials and equipment needed for the election were all in place.
Akwasi Amankwaa, popularly known as ‘Tom Cee’, the NDC’s parliamentary candidate for Kumawu, will face off with Ernest Yaw Anim, the New Patriotic Party’s parliamentary candidate and two other independent candidates bearing the same name Kwaku Duah.
Campaigning has gathered momentum as NPP and NDC party executives from the national, regional constituency levels are all on the ground to woo constituents for their votes.
The Ashanti Regional NPP Chairman, Bernard Antwi Boasiako, alias Chairman Wontumi, at the head of the NPP campaign team is frantically working to retain the seat, while the NDC is making efforts to wrestle the seat based on neglect of the area by the government.
On Friday, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, accompanied by the parliamentary candidate for Kumawu, Kwasi Amankwah, General Secretary Fifi Kwetey, Ashanti Regional Chairman Andrew, Nana Kwasi and other executives visited the family of the late Philip Atta Basoah to commiserate with them.
He also called on the Omanhene of the Kumawu Traditional Area, Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua, and officially introduced the party’s parliamentary candidate for the Kumawu by-election to him.
He has also met with members of the Moslem community.
The NDC flagbearer called for the support of the party faithful to rally behind the NDC to win the parliamentary slot for Kumawu in the upcoming by-election.
Mr. Mahama has bemoaned the lack of development in the Kumawu area, particularly the neglect of the 120-bed capacity Sekyere Kumawu District Hospital project, which was started in 2012.
In August 2020, NMS Infrastructure Limited, the contractors executing the 120-bed capacity Sekyere Kumawu District Hospital project, returned to the site to complete the project which has stalled following lack of funds.
The return of the contractors on site followed the government’s commitment to pursue its Health for All policy, after it (government) had duly done a value for money analysis of the project.
The move gave the hope that the US$29.6 million project would enter its final stages of construction, but seems abandoned again.
The Kumawu Hospital is one of six proposed district hospitals captured in a $175 million loan agreement to be located in Kumawu and Fomena in the Ashanti Region, Sekondi in the Western Region, Abetifi in the Eastern Region, Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region, and Tempane in the Upper East Region.
The transition in government in 2016 stalled the project at the time 80 per cent of concrete works had been completed with major plumbing work yet to be done. Additional expenses have caused a delay in the execution of the project.
According to Sammy Okai Laryeh, a representative of NMS Infrastructure Limited, the contractor would need an additional US$10 million variation to complete the project to bring life to the vision of the President via the project.
The government is yet to ratify funding for the completion of the project.
It consists of a theatre, four bed recovery unit, 24-bed surgical female/male ward, 24-bed female/male medical ward and 6-bed accident and emergency ward.
The rest are 6-bed observation/out-patient ward, maternity, 32-bed obstetrics/gynecologist ward and 15-bed pediatric ward. The Government has denied allegations that recent infrastructural development ongoing in the Kumawu constituency aims to influence voters ahead of the by-election.
The town, which had not witnessed any major upgrades over the years, has experienced significant development in the past few days. Numerous untarred roads in the area have been paved, and construction of new roads is currently underway.