Elections to the Council of State will be keenly contested at 10 locations across the country today.
Two representatives each from the 216 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies will constitute the electoral college to elect the regional representatives to the Council of State.
A total of 113 contestants, made up of 107 men and six women, are battling for places on the council, which is enjoined by the 1992 Constitution to “counsel the President in the performance of his functions”.
The Volta Region tops the number of aspirants, with 21 filing to contest. It is followed by the Ashanti Region, 19; Greater Accra, 16; Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Northern,11 each; Upper East, seven; Western and Central, six each, and Upper West, five aspirants.
The oldest candidate is 84, while the youngest is 23 .Both are from the Western Region.
Originally slated for February 9, 2017, the Electoral Commission (EC) rescheduled the elections for February 16 to enable the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to constitute the electoral colleges.
Although the election to the Council of State is officially non-partisan, political undercurrents have characterised such elections in the Fourth Republic.
It is for this reason that the Greater Accra Region, for instance, is expected to be a major focus, as veteran National Democratic Congress (NDC) former Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister, Mr E.T. Mensah, attempts to secure the regional seat on the council.
Mr Mensah’s decision to vie for the seat has elicited fierce reactions from some of his party members who believe his age-old association with the NDC ‘disqualifies’ him from becoming a Council of State member in the current regime, since it has become a convention that Council of State members have some leanings with the ruling party.
Two other contestants from the Greater Accra Region are expected to give Mr Mensah a run for his money. They are: Nii Kotei Dzani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ideal Financial Holdings, and Nene Atiapah, believed to be the favourite of some leading members of the NPP.
The Ashanti Region is also expected to witness a fierce contest as the likes of Baffuor Osei Hyiaman Brantuo, Otumfuo’s Manwerehene, who is also a medical doctor, and Mr Robert Yaw Amankwah, a former regional chairman of the NPP, fight for the single slot.
It is said that Baffour Hyiaman has the blessings of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and judging from the way Asantes revere their King, it appears that Baffour Hyiaman has the edge.
The Brong Ahafo Region looks another major battleground, looking at the number of paramount chiefs who are battling it out with other contestants.
The Yejihene and President of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chief, Pimampim Yaw Kagbrese V, the Kukuomhene, Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi, and the Yamfohene, Nana Ansah Adu Baah II, make up the three paramount chiefs who are sorting it out with other aspirants, including Mr K. Agyenim-Boateng, a journalist, and Mr Kwadwo Yeboah Fordjour, a businessman and former regional chairman of the NPP, for the regional seat on the council.
Another tight race is in the Central Region where three chiefs are also contesting. They are Nana Appiah Nuamah II, the Omanhene of Twifo Mampong; Okatakyi Dr Amanfi Vll , Omanhen of Asebu, and Nenyi Ghartey VIl, the Omanhen of Effutu.
The traditional rulers are slugging it out with notable names such as Nana Brew-Butler, a Board Member of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Mr George Frempong, the Regional Coordinator for Inclusive Education at the Ghana Education Service, and Prof. Ato Essuman, Associate Professor of Education and Development, one-time Chief Director of the Ministry of Education and former member of the Council of State.
The Northern Region is not left out in the expected explosive contest. Although the Paramount Chief of the Kpembe Traditional Area, Dari Bismark Haruna, who is a former District Chief Executive (DCE) for East Gonja in the Kufuor administration, has been tipped to win the contest, he will face stiff opposition from equally strong contestants such as Yakubu S. Nantogmah, a traditional ruler and teacher, Rev. Mrs Sanatu Nantogmah, 64, a development practitioner, and John Wuni Grumah, 66, a medical assistant.
Equally poised for a crunch battle is the Western Region where Mr John Jojo Welsh, 83, a retired educationist; Madam Eunice Buah, 52, businesswoman, Mr Samuel Boadi, 61, businessman , Mr Antori Bonkyi Akomea, businessmen; Lt Col. Anthony Aduhene, 60, a retired Army Officer, and Mr Enoch Bart-Plange Tawiah, a 23-year-old student, are vying for the seat.
Interesting developments have also taken place in the Volta Region where some women groups are said to have been pushing for the election of a female regional representative on the Council of State.
Three women: Mama Attratoh II, the queen mother of Ho Dome, and Ms Valeria Mawuena Akuffo, are among the 21 aspirants from the region. It appears they will face stiff opposition from the male contestants, including Togbe Koku Ayim, Paramount Chief of Ziavi Traditional Area; Togbega Gabusu IV, Paramount Chief of Gbi Traditional Area; Nana Addo K. Cheddere II, Paramount Chief of Challa Traditional Area; Togbe Noagbesenu III, Fiaga of Awate Todzi Traditional Area; Togbe Binah Lawluvi of Ziope, Dr L.K.T. Dorvlo, a pensioner; Mr Sampson K. Apraku, self-employed, and Mr Ransford Linus Ocloo, a youth worker.
Others include the Very Reverend Dr Livingstone Komla Buama, the immediate past Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian (E.P.) Church, and Alhaji Hamza Umar Danjuma, the Volta Regional Chief Imam.
In the Upper East Region, the Paramount Chief of Tongo Traditional Area, Tong-Raana Kugbilsong Nalebegtang, is highly tipped to win the seat he is contesting against others who include a Divisional Chief of Binaba, Naaba Moses Abbare Appiah; Mr Joseph Akani, a retired tax officer, and Mr Francis Apam, a mechanical engineer.
After weeks of preparations, the EC has assured the people that everything is in place to ensure smooth elections.
All the elections are being held at the offices of the regional coordinating councils, except in the Greater Accra Region where the Ga West Municipal office at Amasaman is hosting the election.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Tuesday named 14 Ghanaians to the council. The election of the 10 regional representatives will complete its composition.
The council is expected to elect a chairman from among its members on the first day of its meeting. Mrs Cecilia Johnson chaired the last council. The Juabenhene, Nana Otuo Siriboe, who is one of the President’s appointees to the council, is being tipped to be elected Chairman of the Council of State.