NPP, NDC invade Assin North constituency as by-election beckons
Even before Parliament declared the Assin North seat vacant last Monday, the two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) turned their attention to the Central regional constituency for another hot contest to prove a point.
While the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) would like to use a win in the constituency to back the possibility of its claim to “break the eight”, the biggest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) would also stake a claim that it has an upper hand over the seat it controlled and that the party was ready to battle over the reins of the country come 2024.
The NPP, after a victory in the Kumawu by-election on May 23 this year in its Ashanti Region stronghold, is of the belief that it could win the Assin North seat if a by-election is declared, but the NDC which won the seat with James Gyakye Quayson in 2020 is bent on retaining the seat.
In earnest, some bigwigs of the NPP and the NDC are already on the ground campaigning for a win.
On Sunday night, the NDC held a candle lit vigil, which attracted a mammoth crowd in support of the embattled Mr Quayson.
The contest follows a Supreme Court ruling on May 17, this year, that Mr Quayson’s election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North was unconstitutional and ordered Parliament to expunge his name from its records as a member of the House.
However, before Parliament could reconvene and carry out the order of the Supreme Court, the NPP and the NDC had pitched camp and were criss-crossing the constituency ahead of a possible by-election.
The NDC has already made its intentions clear that if there be any by-election in Assin North, the party would throw its full weight behind Mr Quayson to reclaim the seat anytime it was held.
“The full weight of the party, including the Minority Caucus in Parliament, will be put behind Honourable Quayson so as to ensure an even more resounding victory for him in the upcoming by-election, the General Secretary of the NDC, Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, said in a statement, he issued recently in support of Mr Quayson’s candidature.
Meanwhile, information gathered from Parliament indicated that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has written to the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, to declare the Assin North seat vacant following the Supreme Court ruling directing Parliament to expunge the name of Mr Quayson from its records.
Parliament is set to reconvene on Tuesday, June 6, this year for the second meeting of the third session of the eighth parliament of the fourth republic during which the matter will come up for discussion.
A statement issued and signed by the Speaker of Parliament said the first sitting of the second session was at 10 a.m.
The resumption is pursuant to Standing Order 37 of the Parliament of Ghana.
A visit by the Daily Graphic last Thursday to assess the mood in the constituency after the Supreme Court ruling indicated that residents of the area are ready for a possible by-election if it was declared.
Some constituents, who interacted with the Daily Graphic during the visit expressed their unflinching support for Mr Quayson, saying they were ready to vote for him or any other person who would replace him in the by-election to represent them in parliament.
Others said the court case had greatly hindered the development of the area but they were ready for a by-election so that the area could have a representation in parliament to promote its development agenda.
A resident and a member of the NDC, Ranklin Otoo, said the constituents were disappointed at the ruling.
He indicated that nonetheless they were ready to ensure that they worked to re-elect Mr Quayson if he came back or to ensure the NDC retained the seat.
Another resident, who gave his name as Vernake of the Zongo Caucus of the NPP, said the rule of law must prevail in all processes.
He said once there was a problem with the required processes, the right thing must be done, adding that he believed the rule of law had been the winner in the case.
A banner hanging in parts of Assin Bereku, a community within the constituency, was seen with Mr Quayson’s picture with the inscription “He is coming.”
Many of the constituents said Mr Quayson should have been allowed to finish his term and, therefore, they were ready to vote to compensate him or the NDC for not being able to finish his tenure in parliament successfully.
Others may look on to the NPP’s development and consider an NPP candidate.
The choice of candidate for both parties may also be critical in the choices the electorate would make.
The Assin North NDC Constituency Chairman, Felix Benefoh, said the party would leave nothing to chance if there was a by-election.
“We know the seat is an NDC seat but we are not complacent. We understand the politics in this area and we would work till the seat is retained,” he stated.
Mr Benefoh said the party was working to ensure that every nook and cranny of the constituency was reached and for it to win a by-election if there was one.
The Constituency Secretary of the NPP, Stephen Asamoah, said the party would take back the seat on the strength of the many developmental projects the ruling party had undertaken in the area.
He said the party had known since the Cape Coast High Court ruling of 2021 that there would be a by-election.
“We have been preparing since then and if we put our house in order we are taking the seat back,” he stated.
He observed that even with Mr Quayson’s win, the NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, won with over 1,000 votes.
Mr Asamoah said the construction of the Assin Praso-Assin Fosu road, and the almost complete Assin Akonfudi and Assin Bereku Town roads, the Assin Assempanaye-Kushea roads, the Akonfudi Junction-Apoli Ningo and the Akropng Junction-Asibrem roads would change the game in a by-election.
The NPP constituency secretary said the Assin North’s share of Agenda 111 health facility, which was at the roofing level, an Astro turf at Assin Bereku, many classroom blocks, CHPS compounds and the district assembly office block, among others, would change the game in the favour of the NPP.
The Assin North Constituency was created in 2012 when then Assin Central Constituency was split into two as Assin North and Assin Central.
It was held by the NDC in 2012, taken by the NPP in 2016 and won by the NDC in 2020 again.
The constituency has about 260 settlements, including Assin Bereku, the district capital, Assin Akonfudi, Assin Praso and Assin Kushea, among others.
The NPP’s hold on the constituency was broken by the NDC’s Samuel Ambre who won the seat in 2012 with 14,338 votes representing 51.64 per cent against Ebenezer Appiah-Kubi of the NPP.
Mr Ambre’s reign was shortlived as he was unseated by the NPP’s Abena Durowaa Mensah in 2016.
The NPP MP did not stay on the hot seat for long as she was unseated by James Gyekye Quayson in the 2020 election.
Mr Quayson capitalised on Ms Durowaa’s dwindling popularity to win the seat, polling 17,498 votes representing 55.21 per cent, leaving her with 14,193 votes representing 55.21 per cent, leaving her with 14,193 votes representing 44.79 per cent of the votes.