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Politics of Sunday, 9 August 2015

Source: The Republic

Accra Mayor eyes Parliament

Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije

The Republic Newspaper can report that the Mayor of Accra, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije is set to become one of the new faces in Parliament by 2017, as he laces his boots to contest the Ablekuma South Parliamentary seat.

Close sources to the mayor have told this paper that the Accra Mayor, who considers himself as “a son of Greater Accra, ” would want to serve his birthplace (in the Ablekuma South constituency) when his tenure ends as Accra Mayor.

The constituency located on the southern coast of Accra with traditional areas such as, Korle Gono, Mamprobi, Banana Inn, Gleffe, Akoto Lante and some part of Dansoman is a place where Dr. Vanderpuije is very familiar with, having grown up there.

According to our sources, the Mayor is not very satisfied with the current pace of development of the constituency, so rather than “fold his arms” after serving as Accra Mayor, he would seek to represent his people in Parliament.

This decision is expected to see the Mayor with the epic beard in Parliament after the 2016 general elections.

The Ablekuma South seat is currently occupied by Frederic Fritz Baffour, a former Communications Minister and incidentally, a cousin of Dr. Vanderpuije.

The ruling NDC is said to open nominations by August 24, 2015, for all aspiring members of Parliament wishing to stand on the party’s ticket to officially declare their intentions. Dr. Vanderpuije is expected to pick his forms when nominations open, this paper can confirm.

It is currently not clear if Fritz Baffour intends to recontest for that seat, but this paper has gathered that even if he intends to, with the new interest shown in the seat by the Accra Mayor, he would have to step down because the Mayor endears more to the people than the incumbent MP.

If he does decide to contest Dr. Vanderpuije for the seat, analysts within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) contend that that would be the biggest mistake of Fritz Baffour as he would lose “miserably” at the primaries given his current low ratings among voters in the constituency.

Residents of the Ablekuma South have often complained about Fritz Baffour’s estrangement from the affairs of the constituency, while NDC party members have complained of him losing touch with the party. They contend that Alfred Oko Vanderpuije would be a much better choice if he indeed takes up the initiative.

Oko Vanderpuije who was recently awarded the prestigious Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ award as the Best African Mayor is expected to tout his long list of achievements as the Mayor of Accra as his main selling point for his parliamentary ambitions.

Some people may criticize him for his seeming high-handedness in his duties as a Mayor, he is, however, undoubtedly considered one of the best Mayors the capital city had ever had.

He is associated with expanding the drainage system in Accra, relocating hawkers to more conducive market places, decongesting the city main centre such as the Makola shopping area and pulling down several notorious slums in the city, much to the chagrin of squatters but development observers have praised him for taking up the challenge that his predecessors have lacked the courage to tackle.

His efforts have given Accra the requisite modern image, observers have said.

His recent unflinching resolve to pull down Sodom and Gomorrah-Accra’s most notorious slums has earned him several accolades because the slum is noted for its contribution to the perennial floods that dog Accra.

The latest and deadliest of such floods resulted in the death of almost 200 residents of Accra barely two months ago.