One of the sources of divisive conflicts within the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is the rampaging over-reaching ambitions of District Chief Executives (DCEs) to cap the heels of their Members of Parliament (MPs) and then move in to succeed them.
Though it is not a new phenomenon limited only to DCEs in the NPP, it has peaked lately and infected the whole country, creating tensions as more and more DCEs play with MPs common funds and consciously direct developments to places timed to win them (the DCEs) plaudits and gain for them the support of polling station chairmen, who will decide between them and an incumbent MP when it comes to the primaries.
The generally cash-strapped MPs, who unlike the DCEs are not direct agents of development projects, have very little to fight back with and it becomes very difficult when the MP is from a different political party, a classic example being the case of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) slugging it out with his DCE at the time, Mr. Ato Arthur when he was the DCE of Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA). Within the last fortnight, recommendations from National Security and inputs from the Ministry of Local Government finally convinced the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to remove this source of almost universal concern and conflict to back a directive from Government to DCEs to quit by the end of this month, if indeed they have intents to contest for the office of Parliament.
For several MPs this order would bring great relief, as the generally 'enterprising' DCEs are often able to amass wealth and logistics to further their campaign efforts to the detriment of the MPs.
For Hon Isaac Edumadze, who generally had a complete stranglehold over his constituents and instilled fear in his DCEs, who even held a press conference in Accra to support him, he has just discovered that Mr. Obrempong was secretly nursing an ambition to succeed him, and swung into action as soon as he was dropped as the Central Regional Minister.
He has managed to secure the support of a significant number of the constituency executives to support him now that the 'great fearsome' Eduasor Edumadze has fallen, and a large clutch of polling station chairmen have similarly swung to his side, as he steps up for the primaries coming off by the early to middle part of 2008 to contest him for the position of parliamentary candidate for the Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam Constituency. Interestingly, the former chairman of the constituency, who was undermined by Edumadze to the point where he tasted detention at Saltpond and Cape Coast Police cells, has admitted that Edumadze pleaded with him and eventually gave him ¢5 million compensation for his support recently.
But Mr. Appiah Ofori, a graduate teacher at Mfantseman Secondary School, who challenged Edumadze for the seat in 2004, and was disqualified through the machinations of the former Minister, is not in the race this time and has switched camp away from Edumadze.
Stories abound on similar battles, the fiercest and most publicised being Ahanta West Constituency, where the DCE, former reporter with the Business Chronicle and The Daily Guide, Mr. Kwesi Biney, 52, is tightly holding the throat of the sitting MP for the area, Hon. Samuel Johnfia and subverting him at every turn.
Biney's threat to contest the sitting MP, either on the ticket of the NPP or as an Independent candidate, has led to the executives of the party in the area sharply divided along the lines of the DCE and the sitting MP.
This has also led to a bad blood relationship between the two political combatants - the DCE and the MP – with the former, at the latter part of last year threatening to beat up the MP in his office.
Biney, who voluntarily tendered in his letter of resignation from the position as the DCE of the area and later rescinded that decision, appeared before the President who summoned him and Jonfiah to settle their differences and work together for the common good of their constituents.
This directive means that Biney, who can now boast of two Mercedes Benz saloon vehicles, two houses, the second under construction, and a large war chest obtained from unknown sources, has to choose between resigning his position yet again and abandoning his MP ambition after all.
Jonfiah, on the other hand wants Biney to face him at the primaries, where he is confident he will still trash Biney, who has now even lost the support of the western regional executives.
But political pundits this paper spoke to, say it would not only amount to political suicide and humiliation on the part of Kwesi Biney should he decide this time round to give up his position just to contest the sitting MP.
The arguments of the political pundits was in respect of the controversy and heat that surrounded the DCE's earlier resignation and subsequent rescission, which incurred widespread displeasure in the community, leading for calls from the former MP Hon. Kwoffie to come out and call for his dismissal.
The opposing factions also held a press conference with respect to the DCE's resignation faulting the President in the process for not consulting the executives of the party before deciding to accept or reject the resignation of the DCE.
But Biney, characteristically refused to speak to this reporter saying “Adams, you know I will not speak to you; so you can write whatever you have”, he told this reporter and hung up.
One of his front line aides, Papa Cromwell, a former constituency Chairman of the area party who was defeated in earlier constituency elections, also refused to speak to this paper. He told this reporter, “You just spoke to the DCE and now you have come back to me. I will not speak to you”. He also hung up the phone on me.
Meanwhile, Mr. Appiah Kubi, the Sehwi Wiawso District Chief Executive of the area, has on his part confirmed to this paper in a telephone interview that DCEs had indeed been communicated to by the party to give up their positions if they wanted to contest as MPs.
At the national level, Nana Ohene Ntow, the General Secretary of the NPP told this reporter that he was aware there was such a directive but could not tell off hand if the directive had been communicated to that effect. The Consensus is that this order would go a long way to solve one of the sources of internecine conflict within the NPP.