• Politics

    Napo knocks himself out of Bawumia’s running mate race

    The man said to be the preferred candidate of the Manhyia Palace, the seat of the Asante overlord, where the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu resides, has technically knocked himself out of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) running mate race with comments on “Dumsor”, which has been labelled as distasteful, cheeky, arrogant and disrespectful towards Ghanaians.

    The Energy Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh alias “NAPO”, at the inauguration of the NPP campaign team in the Ashanti Region on Monday, snobbishly told Ghanaians grappling with the power crisis and demanding a timetable to help plan their daily activities, including work, home chores among others, to create their own timetable, if they deemed it necessary.

    The man angling to partner with the NPP flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, repulsively questioned the rationale behind creating a timetable when the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) had stated that there was no load-shedding in place, describing the demands from power consumers as “evil”.

    He told journalists: “Ask those who want it to bring it, if there is. I haven’t seen any timetable.”

    NAPO, had earlier denied that the country has returned to the days of Dumsor, as the erratic power supply in the country under John Dramani Mahama was referred to.

    “If we are comparing four years, four years, NPP administration energy sector is 300 times better than John Mahama… it’s far much better than John Mahama ever did… “I’ve promised you that we are going to work on it and it’s not a work that is a single event; it’s a process, and we’ll continue to work on it for the energy sector to become better,” he stated.

    Dr Opoku Prempeh,  had dismissed the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission’s (PURC) request for a load-shedding timetable, a critical need as the country faces an unstable power supply.

    The PURC, had instructed the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to provide a load management timetable by April 2, 2024, considering the ongoing electricity supply issues.

    NAPO’s comment has attracted anger from the power consumers, as well as politicians on various media platforms, forcing the Ministry of Energy to issue a statement, in which it claimed Dr Opoku Prempeh’s remarks, have been deliberately distorted by the media to portray the Minister as an insensitive person.

    Ahead of the minister’s comments, the Managing Director of ECG, Samuel Dubik Mahama, had in an interview, described the provision of electricity as a “privilege, not a right.

    The Energy Minister, the Minister for Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, Chief of Staff Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ashanti Bekwai and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, former Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, former EPA Boss, Henry Kwabena Kokofu and the clergyman and former Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Prof. Opoku Onyinah, have been tipped to partner Bawumia.

    Amongst the names, Dr Opoku Prempeh, has been projected as the Manhyia Palace’s choice with Dr Bawumia, said to be under pressure to choose him as his running mate or forget winning Ashanti Region, the stronghold of the governing NPP.

     However, his utterances, do not appear to sit well with Ghanaian electorates, who will be voting come December 2024, to decide who lead them for the next four years.

    Some, including Mustapha Gbande, Deputy General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have requested the Energy Minister, to step down, following his remarks on the ‘dumsor’ timetable, describing his remark as reckless.

    In an interview on Citi FM on Monday, the Bongo MP, also indicated that the Energy Minister’s comments, demonstrated the government’s lack of concern for Ghanaians, saying the Minister’s remarks revealed his anger and disrespect towards the Ghanaian, who have contributed to his current position.

    “First and foremost, let me state that the comment by Honourable Matthew Opoku Prempeh is very unfortunate. It is a sign that we have a group of people who simply cannot care about how people feel. You can feel arrogance in his comments. You can feel disrespect for even the people who made you, who by their grace made you who you are in terms of being a minister of state,” he stated.

    The NDC Deputy General Secretary, expressed the party’s disappointment with Dr Opoku Prempeh’s response to the PURC’s directive in a Citi News interview on Monday.

    He suggested that, Dr Prempeh’s comments reflect the quality of individuals serving in the Akufo-Addo’s government.

    “I think I saw Napo’s face, and I saw him grant the interview. You could easily associate that with a man who is frustrated, because he may not be given the running mate or a man who is drunk. Otherwise, on a clean face of an energy minister who owes a responsibility to the people of Ghana to explain to Ghanaians the energy crisis, will not make this kind of commentary.

    “They are very unfortunate. They are very irrational. They are very insensitive to the plight of Ghanaians. I was in the Oti region over the weekend. It is ‘adomdomadomdom.’ You can’t even power your air conditioner. Ghanaians are crying and asking that give us a timetable so that we can rationalise our businesses in accordance with the timetable, and you are insulting them.”

    “These are the kinds of men that President Akufo-Addo have. This is the kind of liability they have imposed on the finances of this country, who continue to freeze and get paid with taxpayers’ money only to come and spill baggage and irresponsibility back to the people of Ghana.

    “It is clear that we have a useless government in place. We have a bunch of people who do not have the capacity and intellectuality to understand the economy and the problems surrounding it. Let him be responsible. Clearly, the energy minister is not responsible,” Mustapha Gbande said.

    But Kofi Abrefa Afena, a spokesperson for the Energy Ministry, in a statement on Tuesday March 26, affirmed that the minister’s stance, reiterated the government’s dismissal of the necessity for a “load management timetable.”

    According to him, this position, as indicated by the ECG, is based on ongoing efforts to address the root causes of the temporary power challenges.

    The statement, said the Minister has “always been sensitive to the plight of the Ghanaian people and continues to ask for their forbearance, as has always been the case when challenges relative to power stability emerge.”

    The statement continued “The Ministry of Energy, has taken notice of the spin around an interview granted Joy News by Energy Minister, Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh on the margins of the inauguration of the New Patriotic Party’s Ashanti Regional Campaign Team last Sunday.

    “The rather innocuous statements of the Minister as captured by the Interview, have been distorted to portray him as being insensitive to the plight of Ghanaians and thus, we wish to avert the minds of Ghanaians to the context of the Interview and clarify as follows:

    It said that “the Minister dismissed the need for a load management timetable because in his view and as indicated by the Electricity Company of Ghana, the causes of the temporary power challenges are being addressed. The Minister in the clip said, “Addressing the issues is not an event” which is rightly so.

    “The Minister’s comparison of the current energy sector to the one under former President John Mahama, where Ghanaians reeled under pervasive ‘Dumsor’ for 4 years, comes on the back of recent similar calls in the media space by the NDC Flagbearer for a load management time table. This call, in the view of the Minister is borne out of the quest to score cheap political points. In fact, a careful listen of the interview will show that, the comparative template was set by the interviewer”, the statement stated.

    “In the said clip, the Minister is clearly seen straining his voice because of the obviously noisy background, in order to be heard by his interviewer. This has unfortunately been misconstrued. Dr Prempeh is known to be very media-friendly.

    “The Ministry wishes to assure the general public that the Ministry as the policy maker and mother agency of the various power sector actors is working assiduously with these agencies to ensure that the temporary challenges are resolved.

    The Energy Minister’s comments on rolling power outages, has elicited additional commentary with many, saying he is not a stranger to controversial takes on major national issues, citing previous comments in the education sector and during a natural disaster ‘under his belt.’

    In 2017, while addressing the issue of lack of toilets in some Senior High Schools, the then-education minister, mentioned that students, defecating in rubber bags is at “least better”.

    At a news conference in Accra on Thursday, November 30, 2017, Dr Opoku Prempeh, answering a question on lack of toilet facilities in some schools under the Free SHS education policy said:

    “There are few schools still in Ghana here that are secondary schools who had no toilets; that is not the result of free SHS. So when you see students portraying that somebody says I do it in a rubber bag and I walk 45 minutes, at least you have the rubber bag,” he said, which comments drew critique from the public.

    In December 2021, theMP for Ketu South, Abla Dzifa Gomashie, accused NAPO, now energy minister of making bigoted and tribalistic comments relative to the Keta tidal waves disaster.

    This was after he in an interview on Asempa, the minister who serves as Manhyia South MP, indicated that there’s no need for the Akufo-Addo government to make allocations for victims of the Keta tidal waves in the 2022 Budget.

    According to him, citizens across the country get struck by natural disasters where no specific intervention is availed to them from the central government. This was at a time when opposition MPs, were pushing for budgetary allocation to victims of tidal waves in Keta.

    “How can you the opposition tell me that I should include funding for the construction of Keta sea defence in the budget? Was there a budgetary allocation for Kumasi flooding? If the Finance Minister includes it, I’ll also lead the Kumasi residents to demonstrate”, Dr Opoku Prempeh fumed.


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