Politics

Prof. Smart Sarpong: Hon Frema Opare suitable for the running mate slot, Decision rests on the Flag bearer

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The Director of Research and Innovation at the Kumasi Technical University (KTU), Prof. Smart Sarpong, has weighed in on the comparative political prowess of Chief of Staff, Mrs. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare and NDC Running Mate, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang.

In a telephone interview on *Kessben TV* on Thursday, March 21, 2024, Prof. Sarpong asserted that while both individuals had a strong background in academia and have held ministerial positions, Frema Opare’s achievements in politics notably outweigh those of Prof. Opoku Agyemang.

*Comparing roles*

Drawing a parallel between their roles as former Minister of Education and current Chief of Staff respectively, Prof. Sarpong noted that although both individuals had made significant contributions in their respective fields, Mrs Opare’s ascent to the position of Chief of Staff demonstrates a remarkable accomplishment in Ghanaian politics.

“Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang has become Minister of Education before and Mrs. Akosua Frema Opare has also become the current Chief of Staff…With both having also taught at the university level before, they are both almost at par in terms of head-to-head considerations,” he stated.

However, Prof. Sarpong emphasized that the highest level for a university lecturer is to become a professor, since it doesn’t necessarily mean one should become a Vice-Chancellor. He, therefore, stressed that Frema Opare has surpassed this highest level to become a Chief of Staff.

“Chief of Staff’s position is an enviable one because all the ministers salute her, he said, highlighting the pivotal role of the Chief of Staff in ensuring the smooth functioning of the government machinery and maintaining constant communication between the executive and the citizenry.

*Political experience*

Prof. Sarpong stated that Frema Opare had risen through the ranks to get to where she is currently, and so when it comes to education, her effects can be felt in the same vein as Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang.

But Prof. Sarpong believes that Frema Opare’s extensive experience and strategic positioning within the political landscape make her a formidable candidate for higher political offices, such as the vice presidency.

Prof. Sarpong emphasised that Frema Opare’s grassroots political experience, citing her tenure as a former Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency.

He contrasts this with Prof. Opoku Agyemang’s lack of political representation at the constituency level, suggesting that Frema Opare’s familiarity with grassroots politics gives her an edge in connecting with the electorate.

“When it comes to discussions on who would better and ideally be the Running Mate and subsequent Vice President, it is more deserving and favorable for Frema Opare than Jane Naana Opoku. Because Frema was a grassroots MP before. For instance, she is a former Ayawaso West Wuogon Member of Parliament,” he stressed.

He added that Mrs. Osei-Opare has also been a former lecturer and Head of the Department of Home Science at the University of Ghana, and she has also served as the Country Director of Action Aid Ghana.

*Vast advantages*

Based on these advantages, the KTU Director of Research and Innovation stated that Mrs Frema Opare would not encounter any challenges should she be selected as a running mate in her first attempt.

In his view, the Chief of Staff won’t also experience the low charisma and contributions of Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, who people perceived didn’t complement former President Mahama well.

It could be recalled that Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang partnered with Mr. Mahama for the 2020 election without delivering the Central Region, the home base.

“When it comes to the political analysis of the two women, Frema Opare is far ahead of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang. Frema Opare knows everything about politics, she knows everything about grassroots politics. She won’t lead a campaign to be anxious or shake because this won’t be her first time in politics…,” Prof. Sarpong stated.

*Political debate*

Prof. Sarpong contends that in a hypothetical political debate between both women, Mrs Opare’s extensive political experience and grassroots connections would give her a distinct advantage.

He suggested that the Chief of Staff’s candidacy should be seriously considered by the NPP leadership, particularly by Vice President Bawumia, as they strategize for the upcoming elections.

He indicated that “if both Mrs Frema Opare and Prof. Jane go on a political campaign debate, it will be interesting because they’ll both have the flare to talk about their education portfolios, with Prof. Jane talking about UCC and Frema Opare talking about UG, which will be refreshing”.

“But when the debate enters politics, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang will find difficulties countering Mrs Frema Opare because she has no political experience. The Chief of Staff has seen it all, she served as an MP for more than one term in Parliament. Unlike Prof. Jane Naana, who hasn’t represented any constituency before. So it would be a really interesting debate for both women, but firstly, Frema Opare should pray she catches the eye of the flagbearer Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, then we can talk about it,” he added.

*Age factor*

Prof. Sarpong also dismissed concerns about Mrs Frema Opare’s age hindering her eligibility as a running mate, asserting that divine intervention ultimately determines political appointments.

He underscored the importance of Mrs Opare’s potential candidacy in bolstering the electoral prospects of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and assisting Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia in securing victory in the 2024 elections.

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