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Opinions of Friday, 27 May 2022

Columnist: GNA

Ashanti NPP chair race: Continuation for Wontumi or an upset by COKA?

Chairman Wontumi and his main contender COKA Chairman Wontumi and his main contender COKA

 As the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) prepares to elect regional executives this weekend, the Ashanti Region appears to be the centre of attraction.

The region is undoubtedly the mainstay of the party and the outcome of the upcoming elections has the potential to determine the party's fate in the 2024 elections.


Historically, the NPP's electoral fortunes under the Fourth Republic has always hinged on the performance of the Ashanti Region.

In 2016, when the NPP won the election with over 5.7 million votes, Ashanti Region alone accounted for more than 1.6 million, sweeping 76.27 per cent of the votes in the region.

The percentage in the region, however, dropped to 71.64 per cent in 2020 while that of the National Democratic congress (NDC) appreciated from 23.3 per cent in 2016 to 26.8 per cent in 2020 - a situation that led to the NDC cutting down the almost one million margins in 2016 to a little over 500,000 in 2020.

It is for these reasons that the leadership of the party in the region is crucial to its quest to retain power in 2024 and the consolidation of its achievements since 2017.

The race

The race for the chairmanship position in Saturday’s election, however, promises to be one of the fiercest battles ever witnessed in the history of the party as aspirants intensify their campaign across all the 47 constituencies trying to woo delegates to give them the nod.

Incumbent Chairman, Mr. Bernard Antwi Boasiako popularly known as Chaiman Wontumi who is seeking a third term in office faces stiff opposition from Chairman Odeneho Kwaku Appiah (COKA).

Although there are other three contestants; including Mr. Asare Bediako, Mr. Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi and Oheneba Kofi Adum Bawuah, but political analysts in the region see them as mere participants.

They believe Wontumi and COKA are the two main frontrunners and that the participation of the other three could only tilt the results in favour of either of the two.

As the Election Day draws closer, subtle jabs between the camps of the two frontrunners is gathering momentum as they seize every opportunity within the political space to throw "punches" at each other.

The message of Team Wontumi is simple - there is no need to change a winning team ahead of a crucial election.

They are of the firm conviction that any mistake to change the leadership of the party in its stronghold could hurt its chances of winning a third consecutive term which the party desires so much.

Followers of Wontumi also argue that when the NPP needed a man to call off the bluff of NDC who had launched an audacious target of securing one million votes in the region in 2016, it was the incumbent who stood up against the ruling party.

According to them, this is not the time to experiment when there is an incumbent with proven record of accomplishment who is also a torn in the flesh of the main opposition which is the only alternative to the NPP.

Despite all these valid arguments, Chairman Odeneho Kwaku Appiah (COKA), a man who has been a party activist since 1992 is giving the outspoken incumbent a good run for his money ahead of polls.

Priding himself as the unifier, COKA believes NPP Ashanti is too polarised because of a “one man show” leadership style of Wontumi.

He told a media conference in Kumasi that he has what it takes to bring together disgruntled members for the collective good of the party.

“Under my chairmanship, we are going to work, think, decide, suffer, enjoy, and solve our issues and differences together,” he assured the delegates.

The NPP in the Ashanti Region, according to the camp of COKA, lacks good leadership and the time to fix the problem is now.

The stage is therefore set for a showdown on Saturday at the Heroes Park in Kumasi where over 1,000 delegates would converge to decide the leadership direction of the party in the Ashanti Region for the next four years.