The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has confirmed Mrs Ophelia Hayford as their Parliamentary Candidate for the Mfantseman Constituency of the Central Region for the upcoming December 7 elections.
The decision was taken by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at its meeting on Sunday, October 18 2020, in line with Article 12 of the NPP’s Constitution.
In a statement, the Party’s General Secretary, said Mrs Hayford “had been a strong pillar in the political life of her late husband.”
The party added that following “extensive consultations with all stakeholders including the constituents of Mfantseman”, it believes their choice is “a step in the right direction”.
It must be recalled that this is not the first time the NPP has chosen the widow of a deceased MP as their preferred candidate for an election.
The practice follows a similar incident in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, where Lydia Seyram Alhassan was selected to represent the NPP in a by-election following the death of his husband and the then MP, the late Emmanuel Boakye Agyarko.
The latest action by the NPP has got some Ghanaians criticising the party for the political expediency involved in their attempt to capture political power to the detriment of the welfare of the families in question.
Speaking on Citi FM/TV’s ‘The Big Issue’, Yaw Oppong, a private legal practitioner vehemently opposed the practice of political parties fielding the widows of deceased MPs to win elections based on ‘sympathy vote’.
He said “usually the women are brought in for convenience sake and subsequently they are removed by some means” adding that should not be the case.
“They should not be brought for the sake of convenience. Women should win elections by their own abilities and competence and not only by sympathy”.
On his part, Renowned Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana (UG), Prof Yaw Gyampo, has said the practice of fielding the widows of deceased MPs by political parties just to win elections “amounts to a sheer political convenience that extols the dogmas of partisan selfishness, and disregards the interest of widows and surviving children.”
“It also sacrifices our culture and customary protocols for political expedience. Widows and family members who go through such experience, are denied the rite of mourning their loved ones, just because a group of people need a certain parliamentary seat at all cost,” he added.
Prof Gyampo noted that “the widow, is being made to sacrifice her job as Police Officer, for a non-Ketu-South-like seat, that she can easily win in 2020 because of sympathy, but cannot be guaranteed victory beyond the victory.”
“Will the party take care of her and the children, when she loses her seat and no longer has a job with the Police Service?” he queried.
He sounded a caution to political parties in the country not to endanger the country’s infantile democracy by setting bad precedents in their choices for Parliamentary Candidates in such unfortunate situations.
“We must be in the know that, the practice of asking widows to replace their dead husbands in parliament, may be dangerous and soon undermine quality representation, particularly, if the only driving force to push a certain segment of the citizenry to parliament, is the loss of their spouse.”
He continued “as we grow our democracy, the quest for political power must not usher us into a regime of sacrificing timeless principles, institutions, rules, customs and traditions for political expediencies”.