The Deputy Minister designate for Local Government and also the Deputy General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah has condemned protesters in Ashanti region who are calling for a non-Ashanti to deputize for the Regional minister, describing it as very unfortunate.
Protesters yesterday forced the abrupt closure of the vetting of District Chief Executive aspirants after agitating that both the Deputy Regional Minister and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) boss should be a non-Ashanti.
Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah told The Chronicle that he generally felt uncomfortable when people based their arguments along ethnic lines, adding that the protesters might have a genuine case, but their focus was worrying.
“I think in looking for the choice of a leader, you must look at the person's competence, character and commitment to the party, if it so happens that a non-Ashanti fits into that mode and has proven his loyalty to the party and is capable of doing the work in the region, there shouldn't be a problem,” he reiterated.
He said in some of the constituencies in Greater Accra region, some Akans stood and won and were doing great, adding that the focus should be broad, but not to narrow it down to whether the person is Ashanti or not.
Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah also disagreed with the GH¢100 fees charged on the 132 applicants for the positions of Municipal and District Chief Executives in the Ashanti Region and asked that the money be refunded.
He advised the Committee interviewing the applicants to refrain from such an act since they do not have the approval of the party. He said the decision to charge fees for the application forms came up at a meeting two weeks ago, but the executives of the party and the President agreed that it was wrong for any of the executives to charge fees.
He said the resolution was followed with official statements from the President to all the executives. According to him, it was surprising for some of the Committees to turn around to charge fees since the declaration was made known to all of them.
Mr Ankrah said the committees which were charging the fees were just disregarding the rules of the party and that he was very confident that the illegality was not being perpetrated in all the regions, but only some sections of the country. He promised that the party executive would put in place mechanisms to ensure that the practice does not continue.
“It is difficult to say what might have caused all these because when we got wind of it we quickly took a decision and we communicated it to them, and then when the President also issued a directive it was broadcast on air,” he stressed.
He noted that he was even with the Greater Accra Regional Chairman at the time he received a text message complaining to him about people charging fees, and as a result he and the Chairman began to call party executives to refrain from such an act.
He maintained that due to their efforts, all the regions have stopped charging fees but it was only in the Ashanti region that the report came from.
Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah said in Greater Accra for example, all those who paid for the forms have had their monies refunded to them.