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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Columnist: Abubakari, Shuk

Hon. Mustapha Ussif: the rising star of the NPP

With a glittering academic CV, the youngest MP is tipped for a brilliant career, even being the first Muslim president

'If I want to read a book, I write one," said Benjamin Disraeli, a Jewish and the first political "outsider" to become British prime minister. Few aspiring politicians can have taken that Victorian lesson to heart as strongly as Hon. Mustapha Ussif.

Hon Mustapha Ussif, now 33, is currently the youngest elected Member of Parliament in the country. Like President Obama, Hon. Mustapha Ussif ran his own campaign on a platform of change.

"It was an urge I had, because my community wasn't growing, and it's my home and I wanted to give back to the people who'd given me so much," he said. "If not me, then who? If not now, when? We worked really hard and were able to pull off what many people said was not only improbable, but impossible.” Hon. Ussif promise to use his age to his advantage.

"When you're young, you have energy, and there's a certain part of us that thinks we're invincible," he said. "That helps give you that confidence to try, and if you get knocked down, to get back up again.”

What’s next for Hon. Ussif since his party failed to win this election? He's focused on education and access to health care for his people. “As far as I am concerned, education, access to quality health care and agriculture will be my priority as a development facilitator, more than 75 per cent of the people in my constituency have little or no formal education and more than 90 per cent of the people are into the agric and farming business.” He said “People are still dying on bicycles whiles trying to access health care.”

Hon. Ussif, who represents the rural Yagaba/Kubori Constituency in the Northern Region, said that for the moment, he's not thinking beyond his constituents and their needs. He commended the people for voting massively for him. He said: “I accept the responsibility with humility and will like to commend the people of Yagba/Kubori and all the constituents for the confidence they have reposed in me.” Hon. Ussif has come up through the ranks, from being a volunteer party agent for the NPP to becoming NPP UK branch’s member of the Communications Committee. The newly elected MP has caught the eye of top NPP politicians such as NPP presidential candidate for the 2008 and 2012 election Nana Akufu-Addo and his deputy Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. Hon. Mustapha Ussif campaigned very hard and successfully turned over a five per cent deficit against the NPP in the 2008 election to win his seat by over five per cent votes. He is charming, hardworking, reform-minded, a pragmatist and a rising star in the NPP party. A conformist, and God-fearing he will be hundred per cent committed to NPP and a perfect ‘posture child’ for NPP in the Northern regions. NPP must make him the ‘face of NPP’ in the Northern regions. He must be given access to the airways; on TV and FM stations to represent and show voters from the Northern regions that, they can have a pleasant future under the NPP. I also hope the party elect him to the post of Minority leader or his deputy in parliament to represent a northern angle in NPP parliamentary strategies for the next four years.

But while positive press is, well, positive, we have witnessed over the years several NPP politicians from Northern region lauded as the Great Hope yet struggled to keep the momentum going. The ex-MP for Salaga and ex-minister for works and housing, Bonaface Abubakar saddique is the obvious one. Clearly expectations can be a two-edged sword and keeping it perpetually swinging in your favour is a difficult trick, especially when it encourages jealous all-comers to come and take a pop!

The challenges ahead will be a test of his mettle as a newly elected MP but he may well be up for it and continue to impress the NPP faithful. NPP certainly need Hon. Mustapha Ussif and many others from the Northern Regions, who have a massive contribution to make to politics in general but also to reflect a more diverse image and bring experiences and perspectives which are currently thin on the ground within the NPP party.