... For attacking Elizabeth Ohene at Funeral The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has stated that going by the array of parliamentary materials it has been able to marshal from 19 out of the 22 constituencies in the Volta region, coupled with experiments it conducted during the recent voter registration exercise, it was prepared to take the National Democratic Congress' (NDC's) 'World Bank' by storm in this year's general election.
The party, however, viewed with grave concern and final caution, some recent pronouncements allegedly made by the former president, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, at various funerals he attended in the region.
These observations, and others, were contained in a press statement read by the party's Volta regional chairman, Mr. Kenwood Nuworsu, at a briefing here on the party's preparedness for the elections last Friday.
According to the statement, even though the party does not begrudge the former president, who now has the time to attend every funeral in the region, whether it was related to him or not, his penchant to attacking personalities of the party and government during those occasions was unacceptable, and must end.
Mr. Nuworsu gave a classical example as the attack on the person of Hon. Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, by Rawlings at Abutia, Ohene's hometown, a week ago.
And even though he did not quote the pronouncements made, the regional chairman described them as 'clearly provocative.'
The statement reminded the NDC that violence was not the preserve of any particular group of people in this country, and strongly cautioned that the NPP had resisted the temptation to reply to similar threats all these years, but would only continue to resist those temptations within acceptable limits.
On the NPP's strength in the region, he said membership had become far larger and attractive, with subscriptions far outstripping available Identity Cards.
“For the first time in the history of our party in the region, over 65 people have so far applied to contest the 22 parliamentary in the region,” he hinted, and called them the finest materials for battle 2004.
And going by the fact that each contestant paid ¢5million to file nominations, the party has therefore made a cool ¢325million this year from a region that it virtually 'begged' people to contest on its ticket four years ago.
He gave the final line-up of winners, after the primaries as: Jonny Amewu, surveyor (Hohoe North), Ndo Delali, social worker (Hohoe South), Jonny Gyamfi, banker (Krachi East), Nayan, educationist (Nkwanta North), Joseph Denteh, trade unionist (Nkwanta South), and Charles Agbonto, engineer (Buem).
Others are Hon. Kwasi Owusu Yeboah, legal practitioner (Biakoye), Cephas Donkor, management consultant (North Dayi), Patrick Mallet, agronomist (South Dayi), Hon. Elizabeth Ohene, journalist (Ho West), D.D. Dzorkpe, financial consultant (Ho East), Hon. Kofi Dzamesi, chemical engineer (Ketu North), and Thomas Seshie, educationist (Ketu South).
The rest are Hon. Nicholas Negble (Avenor), Kudjo Fianu, sports administrator (Keta), Edmund Ahiabor, agronomist (Anlo), Zewu Glover, legal practitioner (South Tongu), Kodjo Dunyo, businessman (Central Tongu), and Hon. Nicholas Ahiadome, agronomist (North Tongu).
Three constituencies, Krachi West, Akan and Ho Central, will hold their primaries to pick their candidates when the party is ready.
In the case of Akan, where media men showed the greatest interest at the press conference, Nuworsu assured that there would definitely be a primary election at the appropriate time.
When pressed to tell the world whether some people had filed nominations, the regional chairman revealed that two people had so far expressed interest to contest, if nominations are opened.
He named the two personalities as Eric Osei Bonsu and Kofi Bio. The name of Hon. Rashid Bawa, independent MP for the constituency and Minister of State in charge of Education, Youth and Sports, was conspicuously missing from the list of those who expressed interest to run on the party's ticket.
The statement categorically stated that all 22 seats in the region are the party's targets, and would not declare any of them as somebody else's no-go area.
“Politics is scientific, and the people of Volta region are discerning. We are neither mortgaged nor pawned. The people would always go with a government that is caring and development oriented,” he stressed.
According to Nuworsu, the factors that contributed for the NPP's abysmal performance in previous elections in the region have changed positively in the party's favour, and he mentioned intimidation, harassment, multiple voting, mass rigging, logistics and security problems, as some of those factors, which he said the party had sufficiently overcome.
In the 2000 presidential run-off election, 677,442 people came out to vote out of 983,766 in the voters' register at the time. Out of those who voted, 10,884 were rejected for one reason or the other, leaving 666,558 as valid votes counted.
While Professor John Atta-Mills polled 589,719, the then candidate Kufuor had a consolation 76,839 from the entire region. But the playfield has changed considerably. The National Electoral Commission has only 864,802 on its provisional list for this year's exercise, making a shortfall of some 118,964 as against the 2000 register.
While the NPP seems to be satisfied with the list compiled because it strongly believes the previous register was bloated, the NDC thinks many people have been disenfranchised in the recent exercise.
That aside, the NDC will, for the first time in its history, be fighting in an election from behind, and the people's resolve to remain under the umbrella, even in opposition, would face a litmus test this year.
Anything can happen in an election, but it is likely that the pleasures of incumbency, which usually goes with 'dangling carrots', and the 'hell' of remaining in opposition could be some of the determining factors in the dicey December polls.
As for Rawlings' attacks at funerals, it is doubtful whether they would make any meaningful impact this time.
Present at the press conference were Tommy Amematekpor, a presidential advisor, George Kofi Boateng, special assistant to the regional minister, Johnson Avulete, regional organizer, and Reagan Tepretu, regional youth organizer.