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Politics of Thursday, 9 April 2015

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Fierce battle in Tema West NPP as Carlos picks forms

A fierce battle of who leads the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Tema West Constituency in the 2016 general election is set to begin following moves by a businessman and a philanthropist to contest the party's primaries in the constituency.

The businessman, Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, on Tuesday sent strong signals by picking up nomination forms to contest the primaries slated for June 13, this year.

Mr Ahenkorah's entry follows the reversal of the affirmative action policy by the party's national council that sought to bar men from contesting sitting women Members of Parliament (MPs).

The policy, which also saw the constituency being labelled as a coastal one, meant that only the incumbent MP or any other individuals of Ga origin were the only eligible people that could contest the primaries.

The incumbent MP, Ms Irene Naa Torshie Addo, has however, downplayed the reversal of the policy on her plan to retain the seat.

According to her, competing with men over the years has rather made her strong, and she is all fired up for the upcoming contest.

Addressing supporters who thronged the party's Community Five office to support his bid, Mr Ahenkorah, a former President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), expressed concern over the seeming disunity in the constituency over the past eight years.

According to him, factionalism in the party in the constituency sought to be driving many of its sympathisers to the opposite side.

He said in the 2012 general election, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was able to marginally decrease the NPP's votes and that was a clear indication of the need for change as to who represented the party in the 2016 elections.

Mr Ahenkorah denied suggestions he was never a party member and only appeared out of the blue by hijacking the party and cajoling delegates to rally behind him to maintain the seat for the NPP.

"I have been a member of the party since 1997 and have resided in the constituency where I have been actively engaged at the grassroots level, which ensured that the former Majority Leader and MP, Lawyer Abraham Osei-Aidoo, succeed throughout his term of office," Mr Ahenkorah explained.

Mr Ahenkorah, an entrepreneur, hinted that his quest to see formidable policy formulation and implementation in the area of maritime and shipping trade would be the sole guide for him going into the primaries and the general election should he succeed.

Some observers are worried that with the visible cracks within the rank and file of the party, Mr Ahenkorah’s campaign might be reduced to personal attacks on the incumbent MP, but he emphasised that such tactics were not part of his style.

According to him, campaign messages ought to be focused on what one could offer for the overall general improvement of the constituents.

"I am determined to back out of the race should my campaign team adopt a posture of politics of insult and propaganda," he told the teeming supporters.

Asked whether the withdrawal of the affirmative action policy was a relief to him, Mr Ahenkorah stressed that he knew the policy was not going to come to fruition and the spontaneous reaction to the national council's decision was a clear case that there was the need to repackage the idea.

"While the policy is a good one that can encourage more women into the field of politics, it ought to be packaged and managed properly," he stressed.

While admitting the contest would be a tough one, Mr Ahenkorfah said he was hopeful the delegates would give him their mandate come June 13, this year.