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24.10.2008 NPP News

NPP captures women vote Family-centred policies, programmes the key, says Ken Agyepong

By The Statesman

Kennedy  Ohene Agyepong, New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Assin North, has predicted a landslide victory for the governing party in this year's presidential and parliamentary elections, especially in the Central Region.

The victory will be borne on the back of the strong support the party commands among the largest segment of the population, women, who have been the greatest beneficiaries of the NPP government"s family-centered programmes since it assumed office on January 7, 2001.

Speaking exclusively with The Statesman at Swedru in the Central Region on the sidelines of a workshop for party executives and parliamentary candidates, Mr Agyepong cited free medical care for pregnant women, free health care for children under 18 years of age, National Health Insurance Scheme, capitation grant and school feeding programme, provision of microcredit, together with NPP Presidential Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo's promise of free education up to Senior High School as responsible for the huge support the NPP enjoys among the country's women.

"Our party's track record of drawing up and actively implementing family centered, human centered policies and programmes is concrete evidence of our burning desire to make life better for every Ghanaian.

Women, around whom the home is built, have been the greatest beneficiaries, and it is only natural that they support the party and government that has relieved them of the burdens of Cash and Carry [healthcare system] and school fees, among others,' Mr Agyepong told this paper.

The NPP's message of Moving Forward and making life better has struck a strong chord, and even when their fathers, husbands or brothers may say otherwise, women are prepared to exercise their vote in a manner they see fit, he added.

According to Asare Otchere-Darko, Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, all the surveys conducted by such reputable pollsters as Primary Research Associates, Research International, Centre for Democratic Development and the Danquah Institute show a clear preference among women for the NPP and its presidential candidate.

NPP draws about 57% of its support from women, he revealed, more than the average; latest statistics indicate women make up at least 51% of the country's population.

'While we are still analysing the results and what accounts for this, preliminary indications are that they [women] remember the horrible treatment meted out to women entrepreneurs, primarily traders, by the PNDC and NDC.

Furthermore, under the NPP, women enjoy greater freedoms, and are loath to see those freedoms taken away by an NDC government.

There is also the fear that social interventions like the NHIS and Capitation Grant, which the NDC says it will 'reform' would rather lead to their collapse.

'Nana Addo's promise of free education up to SHS, which the NDC cannot match, appears to be the clincher.'

Another element in the NPP's favour, Otchere-Darko continued, is the growing number of 'virgin' voters - those who just turned 18 and are eligible to vote for the first time - who were initially attracted to the CPP, are increasingly buying into Nana Akufo-Addo's vision of transformation and setting the building blocks to move Ghana from a Third World to a First World country.

The pledge of greater attention to education and the economy, the two major concerns of the youth, as well as the greater likelihood of a well-paying job after school under an Akufo-Addo presidency have been major draws.

Throwing more light on the workshop, which was attended by senior party officials as well as parliamentary candidates and their managers, Mr Agyepong, who is the Chairman of the Central Region election monitoring committee, said it was to sharpen the skills of the candidates and equip them with the tools for the electoral battle ahead.

He told The Statesman the party was targeting at least 75% of Central votes but would be satisfied with about 70%.

The bulk of these votes are expected from women, who make up a large proportion of the region's population.

'Apart from 2 or 3 constituencies where more work needs to be done, we expect to sweep all the parliamentary seats as well,' he declared confidently. NPP currently holds 16 of the 19 seats in the region, while the NDC and CPP hold two and one respectively.

Citing the latest poll by Ben Ephson which, unlike previous polls, indicated that the governing party was set to increase its seats in the region but, whilst winning the presidential vote, may lose ground to the NDC's John Atta Mills, the Assin North MP said the situation on the ground rather indicated that Nana Akufo-Addo was set to increase the margin of victory achieved by J A Kufuor in 2004.

In many constituencies, he explained, the candidates were complementing the efforts of the presidential candidate and vice versa, 'so it is strange that the people would ignore the very men and women whose cause is being vigorously promoted by Nana and/or are actively promoting Nana.'