Politics Sat, 1 Mar 2008

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Osaafo Maafo’s Seat - Scramble Unfolds

Intense but interesting parliamentary contests are unfolding in two constituencies where New Patriotic Party (NPP) sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) are not seeking re-election.The constituencies are Abuakwa South and Akyem Oda, both in the Eastern Region. The race that promises to be the more exciting appears to be the one for the Abuakwa South seat, where eight contestants have emerged, all seeking to replace Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current MP and flag bearer of the NPP.

In that constituency, names that have come up include Atta Akyea, Nana Fredua Agyemang Ofori-Atta, Fiifi Ofori-Atta, Rhoderline Ofori-Atta, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Kwame Acheampong Boateng, Ms Gloria Ofori-Boadu and Victor Asihene.Atta Akyea is an Accra-based lawyer; Nana Fredua Agyemang is a media practitioner, while Fiifi Ofori-Atta is an IT consultant. Rhoderline Ofori-Atta is a former Personal Secretary to the First Lady, Mrs Theresa Kufuor, while Nana Asante Bediatuo, Ms Gloria Ofori-Boadu and Kwame Boateng are all lawyers. Victor Asihene is the District Chief Executive (DCE) for East Akim.

Following the earlier declarations by the other contestants, Lawyer Atta Akyea told newsmen this week that he was now ready for the race.Confirming his interest and determination to win the seat, Atta Akyea described himself as the "Etwie" (Grandfather) of all the other aspirants and the most qualified to step into the “big shoes” of Nana Akufo-Addo. "They are my grandchildren. Most of the aspirants came out of me and I am their grandfather and they know it," he stressed.He added that all the aspirants were qualified to succeed Nana Akufo-Addo but that his pedigree and stature gave him a comparative advantage.

Atta Akyea described himself as Kyebi-born, educated at the Kyebi Methodist Primary School, Akropong Salem, Adisadel College, the University of Ghana, Legon, and the Ghana School of Law. “I am locally brewed without any American or foreign sojourn,” he stressed.He is a well-known lawyer of some 15 years’ standing and well networked on the economy. He is tipped to face stiff competition from Ms Ofori-Boadu, a Barrister-at-Law and human rights advocate who worked with the National Investment Bank for 11 years and was also the Executive Director of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana) for four years.Gloria studied Law and Politics at the University of Ghana, where she was elected the President of the Volta Hall and was called to the Bar in October 1990.

At Oda, with the decision of the incumbent MP, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Education and Sports, not to contest the seat again, three gentlemen have set themselves on the mark to contest the seat, reports Samuel Kyei-Boateng. They are Mr Frank Kwame Busumtwi, the DCE for Birim South which is now being upgraded and renamed the Birim Central Municipal Assembly; Mr Larry Kwaku Attafuah, a former Special Assistant to the Minister of Education and Sports, and Mr Yaw Owusu-Boateng, an educationist who is currently working with an Accra-based non-governmental organisation.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in a telephone interview yesterday, Mr Busumtwi said he had already made his intention known to the NPP executive in the Oda Constituency and was awaiting the re-opening of nominations to file to contest the seat.He said having excelled as a DCE, it was time for him to enter Parliament to share his rich experience as a human settlement planner with the entire nation. “Human settlement in the country, which is not perfect, will worsen with the coming into effect of oil exploration, the West African Gas Pipeline project and the Bui Dam so I want to enter Parliament to help draft the necessary legislation on human settlement planning to improve the situation,” the DCE stressed.He added that as a demographer, he would be in a position to redistribute population to other parts of Ghana, instead of majority of the people concentrating in Accra, Kumasi and other urban areas of the country.

Born in Akyem Oda on February 22, 1949, Mr Busumtwi had his education at St John’s School in Sekondi, continued to do his first degree in Human Settlement Planning at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and later the University of Ghana to do his post-graduate course in Population Studies.The aspiring MP also pursued his MSc programme in Urban Planning at the City University and a post-graduate course in American Studies at the Colombia University. Mr Busumtwi, who is a Fulbright scholar, is also one of the award winners of the Hilbert Humphrey Fellowship Programme.Before being appointed DCE in 2005, he had worked as a Regional Town and Country Planning Officer for 29 years, serving eight years in Bolgatanga and eight in Cape Coast.

He was once a member of the Birim South District Assembly where he headed the Development Planning Committee.Another contender for the Oda seat, Mr Kwaku Attafuah, told the Daily Graphic in a telephone interview that he was taking realistic measures first to unite the rank and file of the divided Oda Constituency executive, as well as the electorate, before embarking on his journey to Parliament.He said he was eager to lead a party united in the constituency into the general election and, therefore, his biggest preoccupation now was to help achieve that unity.

The third aspirant, Akyem Asene-born Owusu-Boateng, who had to step down on two occasions in 1992 and 1996 for the late Lawyer Attafuah and Mr Osafo-Maafo, respectively, said it was now his turn and so there would be no turning back.Mr Owusu-Boateng, who said he had the support of majority of the polling station chairmen in the constituency, is a product of Oda Secondary School and holds a degree in Geography and Social Studies, as well as a Diploma in Education from the Cape Coast University. He has also pursued a post-graduate degree course at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.The parliamentary aspirant has taught at Prempeh College in Kumasi, Kumasi High School and Akyem Swedru Secondary School.

In an interview, Mr Owusu-Boateng vowed to win the seat to become “the first Asene citizen to hold a political appointment”. The Chief Executive of Western Telecommunications Limited (WESTEL), Ursula Owusu, and Dr Grace Bediako, the Government Statistician, have also come up as possible contestants for the Oda seat.

Source: D. Graphic

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