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Opinions of Saturday, 27 June 2020

Columnist: Ashong Tettey

Vincent Ekow Assafuah Jnr and old Tafo – A roar from the wilderness


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Last Saturday, delegates of the governing New Patriotic Party went to the polls to elect the party’s Parliamentary Candidates for the 2020 General Elections.

The elections were conducted across the country in constituencies that had NPP representation in Parliament. As expected, many known experienced legislators lost their candidature, paving way for new entrants; fairly young party folks who put their hearts into the race in spite of stiff opposition.

Characteristic of the morning newspapers, the front pages made a big deal about the fairly new potential entrants into Parliament and as has been widely reported; many colossal figures within the majority side of the aisle; Committee Chairpersons even, may not be joining the next Parliament.

Then there’s the conversation about youthfulness, “fresh brains to take over Parliament”, the front page of the New Crusading Guide, describes this. Even though the subject of a candidate’s youthfulness has often taken different turns in political circles, some of the new names - really energetic people, phenomenal young men and women – are people whose enthusiasm, the party’s youth has identified with all these years.

Another useful characteristic has been their history; the otherwise political and family affiliations of these young entrants. While some already held important positions in government; others have been traced to stalwarts within the party. Emerging at Yendi, was a son of a former Vice President.

In Darkoa Newman, remains a spitting image of her father, Victor Newman who currently works at the Presidency as the Director of Research; Stephen Amoah and the rest I have known as far back as my university days. Then there is one young man – who’s been popular in recent times as the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education: Vincent Ekow Assafuah Jnr.

As I flipped through the post-election reportage in the newspapers, Vincent’s handsome look is conspicuous; so much that it’s easier to tag him together with the rest of the lots, as the lucky favourites, - if there are any lucky favourites these days – perhaps the proverbial chicks who have stayed closer to the mother hen and are earning their reward of fat worms.

Vincent is barely a chick marked for recognition in the party scheme of things. Unlike some of the candidates, he’s had no actual relations in the NPP nor has he been closely aligned to the usual patriarchal sects in the tradition – he’s barely 30. I most certainly believe that he made a deliberate choice to join the NPP. So just maybe, if anybody ever said that you needed to have an uncle to pursue your fullest dreams in the New Patriotic Party or to make a meteoric rise, then Mr Assafuah could be your answer. And why is Ekow’s story intriguing?

As the congratulatory messages trickled in, particularly for those who are alumni from KNUST, there is this subtle bewilderment among many – an acknowledgement of the notion, that maybe 8 years ago, if people were asked to submit a list of those marked for political success in any of the political parties, there was a pretty good chance, Ekow’s name would have been far from the list. But here we are, the delegates of Old Tafo have chosen to lead them, a young, ambitious, spirited candidate who from all indications may be putting his best fight in Parliament.

As stonebwoy sang in what has become one of my an all-time favourite music, “You only know my name, but you don’t know my story”.

So, if any journalist may be interested in unravelling the Assafuah story, you would be told the story of a man who’s been in the wilderness for a long time; has been unsuccessful at several of his student political ambitions – from the Faculty Association level to the highest association of University students in Ghana – where he was shy of a few votes to become USAG President.

You would be told of the story of a chap who has been the butt of many jokes in the student political circles in KNUST. Some have said that but for his victory as the President of the National Service Personnel Association (NASPA), maybe Ekow would have fallen out with politics. I disagree then as I do now. There were those who walked up to me – and they meant well - as one of his close confidants at the National Theatre during the district NASPA elections and said, “look if he wins at this one, don’t encourage him to run any further, it might destroy him if he lost again. Yet each time, there was this look on his face – a prism of self-fulfilling prophetic fear and irreprehensible desperation – and maybe we all have to be that desperate at a point in our lives.

Making it through the party’s communication team, Ekow showed all of us that sometimes all one had to do was put their head in the fight and they would be great at it. He honed his skills and demonstrated the fighter and the political marketer and networker he was, traits that I believe earned him his current role as PRO at the Ministry, a service I believe he gave his heart out to, complementing his boss, the famous Matthew Opoku Prempeh in commanding the story of what remains President Akufo-Addo’s most critical ministry.

And so in December, when the people of Old Tafo go to the polls, they would be electing as Dr Anthony Akoto Osei’s replacement in Parliament, a much younger townsman, whose voice is remembered as the still little bread-hawker in Tafo-Pankrono, a patriot whose wobbly tentacles are strategically being spread along the mother Elephant’s foot.

A tough spirit, a go-getter, a hard-working young man and a consummate entrepreneur. He may have lots of interest in Economics like his predecessor, having earned two Master’s degree in Economics from the nation’s premier university and as well a PhD candidate. A Political Science and Law degree holder and a fiery young man who has taught all of us that it doesn’t all have to look prim and proper from scratch, it doesn’t have to follow a certain order and that even when the billows are raging, we can swim for new horizons if we have the courage and the audacious hope to keep an eye on the shore.

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