Political Experience Against Youthful Exuberance …Osei Prempeh, Wontumi In Head-To-Head Battle

AS THE opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) prepares for the decisive Regional Congress early next year to elect its regional executives, the Ashanti region, the stronghold of the party has been confronted with a dilemma over who becomes the Regional Chairman. With the incumbent, Fredrick Fredua Antoh, taking a bow after a not-too-impressive comeback performance, the party is in a soul-searching hunt for a rescuer to salvage the party from its relatively dwindling fortunes in the region. With their main political opponents, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) consistently improving upon its performance in the last two previous elections, the NPP cannot help but get worried about its stronghold gradually falling apart to its sworn political adversaries. It is for this reason that delegates who will converge on January 25, 2013, barring any changes, would be confronted with a tough choice as to who steers the affairs of the party in the next four years at its political “World Bank”. It is worthy of note that the enthusiasm for next year’s congress is somehow low, compared to the previous one which was marred with the Nana Addo-Alan factionalism. So far, only two candidates have emerged as contenders for the Regional chairmanship position, both of who continue to engage in underground campaigns. The two are the ex-Member of Parliament for Nsuta-Kwamang-Beposo and the former Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Kwame Osei Prempeh and the Bosomtwe Constituency chairman, Bernard Antwi Boasiako, aka Wontumi. Obviously, it is a straight battle between political experience and maturity against a strong, energetic, exuberant and youthful blend. The 56-year old former Deputy Attorney General brings to the table practical political experience spanning from years of serving as a legal practitioner and a legislator. He comes across to many pundits in the party as someone who has seen it all in politics and may perhaps be abreast with all the political intricacies and organizational skills needed to mobilize support for the party, when the need arises. The ex-MP also commands respect from the high-ranking hierarchy of the party, with reports indicating that he has massive support of the majority of the Ashanti MP caucus, something which is to be expected from old comrades. Hon. Kwame Osei Prempeh is seen as a gentleman with little political blemish from his years as an MP and a Minister under the Kufuor-led administration. However, his demeanour could as well be his disadvantage, or what people normally refer to as his “Achilles Heels”, in an era of radical politicking. That is perhaps where his opponent, Bernard Antwi Boasiako is strong. In an interaction with some delegates and few pundits within the party, most of them believe the NPP needs a radical, tough-tackling leadership in the region to confront squarely with its opponents. “The people we are dealing with care little about diplomacy and gentility, we have tried that and it didn’t help, we need to match them boot for boot and that is why I believe we need someone more radical,” a Member of the Communication team, who refused to be identified, observed in an interaction. Besides, many believe Bernard Antwi Boasiako, Chief Executive Officer of HANSOL Mining Company Limited, a small scale mining firm, also possesses the wherewithal to bank-roll the party’s activities. Evidently, the aspirant recently doled out GH¢45,000.00 to the party to cover cost of nomination forms for all prospective aspirants in the Ashanti Region. Wontumi also made several contributions towards the 2012 campaign, including donating pickup vehicles. That is not, however, to say Hon. Prempeh does not have the needed funding to prosecute the party’s agenda, but it is always normal that a party in opposition usually requires more financial muscle to compete with the party in power. Another member of the Communication team, however, has different understanding of the issue, observing that the NPP will not sway away from its conservative approach to selecting its leaders. “We do not believe entirely in youth revolution, political maturity and experience also counts,” he remarked.