BARELY A week after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) closed nominations for aspiring parliamentary candidates in constituencies where it lost to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2004 Elections, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the ruling party has directed that all party office holders, who have filed their nominations to run in the parliamentary primaries should resign from their positions with immediate effect.
Though the new directive has been met with issues of its constitutional legitimacy, the NEC believes that such a decision would help avert any likely conflict of interest and confusion in the party ahead of the polls to select parliamentary candidates of the party for those constituencies, which the party refers to as its orphaned constituencies.
The resolution was adopted at a meeting of the NEC last Wednesday, which saw President Kufuor and almost all the presidential aspirants of the party in attendance.
The order, however, departed from an earlier directive in September last year, which stated that District Chief Executives (DCEs) who had the intention of contesting as parliamentary candidates of the party should step down before doing so.
Under the new directive, DCEs who have filed would still be in office because such constituencies have no sitting NPP MPs. Ministers are also not affected by the new order.
Party officers affected by the new directive have raised questions about its constitutional basis since according to them, there were no provisions in the party's constitution that affirm the decision taken by NEC. They see the directive as illegal and unconstitutional.
Alhaji Ahmed Yussif, Greater Accra regional youth organizer of the party emphasized in an interview with this paper that, in as much as he would like to agree and go by the directive of the party, he wished to place on record that the current decision was unconstitutional.
According to him, his position was not a public office but it was to help the party, saying, “I don't think it is proper, but if that is the decision, we have no option but to comply. I strongly believe that it is not the best decision.”
“What I think should have been done is that those holding party positions and have expressed interest to contest should step aside to avoid conflict of interest. Such officers would then take their positions back after the elections if they fail to sail through,” he suggested.
Others who spoke to the paper but did not want to be identified, said though the new order was yet to be officially communicated to them, the party would be setting a bad precedent if it goes ahead to enforce the directive.
Checks by The Chronicle have revealed that, at the close of nominations last week, several party executives at both constituency and regional levels had filed to contest for the parliamentary ticket of the party and paid the ¢5m required as the filing fee.
Our enquiries revealed some of the officers affected by the directive as Mr. Makafui Woanya, Volta Regional Second Vice Chairman, who doubles as Anlo Constituency Chairman and acting Regional Secretary of the party; Mr. Adjei Sowah, Odododiodoo constituency Secretary; Alhaji Yussif Ahmed, Greater Accra Regional youth organizer and Northern Regional organizer, Mr. Sanni.
Others are Mr. Osei Douglas, Krachi West constituency secretary; Mr. Walker Glalah, Vice Chairman for Ho Central; Nkwanta South Constituency Secretary, Ben Mensah; Hajia Hamatta, first vice chairperson of Ayawaso East and Mr. Acquaye Nelson, financial secretary of Ayawaso East.
General Secretary of the party, Nana Ohene Ntow, told the paper yesterday that he did not want to comment on the issue before today.
Brong Ahafo Regional chairman of the NPP and NEC member, Nana Obiri Boahen, told The Chronicle that in his region, he had no party executives lacing their shoes to contest in any of the orphaned constituencies.
According to him, some party officers who wanted to contest bowed out later. “So far no regional or constituency executives have filed to contest as far as I know,” he said.
He confirmed that NEC had issued the directive to the party members.
Mr. Sammy Crabbe, Greater Accra Regional Chairman, also confirmed the directive but noted that it had not been officially communicated to the party members so he would not want to comment on it.
Volta Regional Chairman, Ken Nuworsu, also indicated that he was still collating filed nominations from the various constituencies to be able to know party officials who have filed to contest and would be affected by the directive.