Kennedy Ohene Agyapong’s bid to become the leader of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is facing an unexpected challenge from within the very companies he has touted as his key assets for the presidency.
Concerns have arisen from employees of his Kencity company, which operates Net2 TV and Oman FM, regarding unfavorable working conditions, inadequate compensation, and other grievances.
However, his defense is rooted in the fact that a significant number of his enterprises are not generating profits, leading him to heavily depend on government procurement contracts, including those from the Ministry of Energy and the Ghana Cocoa Board, for his business sustenance.
One of the individuals, a journalist, reportedly suffered a stroke while on duty, yet the company has not provided any assistance to cover his medical expenses or support his family. According to information obtained by The Herald, this unwell individual has been left without assistance.
Allegations suggest that this gentleman has not received even a visit from the presidential aspirant either.
In the previous month, Mr. Agyapong emphasized his capability to effectively manage the economy and generate employment opportunities, positioning himself as a superior candidate compared to his rivals.
“I own the largest Cold Store in all of Africa,” Agyapong asserted during his campaign tour. “Nevertheless, I pay salaries to 7,158 employees every month in this country. So, between us, who possesses the superior strategic ability?”
He underscored his strong track record as a successful entrepreneur who currently employs over 7,000 individuals, expressing his eagerness to contribute to reducing the nation’s unemployment rate.
Agyapong specifically mentioned that through his Steel Plant venture, he plans to provide jobs for a substantial number of workers in the country in the coming months.
He emphasized that, given his current employment of 7,158 workers across the world, he was in a superior position to create job opportunities for the younger generation.
These commitments and assurances were made during his visit to the palace of Nana Adusei Atwenewa Ampem I, the Paramount Chief of Tepa, in the Ashanti Region, as a courtesy call.
Insiders have remarked that the organization appears to be guided by his fluctuating moods rather than a well-defined and efficient administrative process. They express concerns about how he would manage both the NPP and the country given his unpredictable mood swings, which are often accompanied by insults and harsh language.
The ruling party is set to hold its Special Delegates Congress for presidential candidates on Saturday, August 26, 2023, to narrow down the field of aspirants from the current ten to five. Mr. Agyapong has emerged as one of the contenders gaining notable traction in the competition.
Several opinion polls have suggested that he is likely to secure the third position, with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and former Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen positioned ahead in the rankings.
Many employees are surprised to hear the Assin Central MP promising NPP delegates that he will improve their lives if elected flagbearer and subsequently becomes President of Ghana, especially when he hasn’t made a significant impact on their lives so far. A considerable number of them are said to be regularly visiting the offices of some government ministers, seeking financial assistance to meet their basic needs.
The presidential aspirant is reported to have caused a stir among other contenders by pledging to provide GH¢100,000 to certain constituency chairmen if they vote for him in the upcoming election on Saturday. Popularly known as ‘Assin Fosu Bill Gate,’ Ken aims to secure 30% of the special delegates’ votes to send a strong message against the current establishment and bolster his campaign for the main elections on November 4, 2023.
Last week, Mr. Agyapong and his team met with special delegates from the Central region, initially providing each with GH¢5,000 and promising additional financial support on the election day. His message emphasized his solidarity with the delegates and his history of financial contributions to these regions over the years.
In a separate meeting with Regional Executives and some Chairmen, he urged them to stand by his side and pledged to give each of them 100k if he secures a resounding victory in his home region. He is also considering extending this approach to selected chairmen in the Volta, Oti, and Greater Accra regions.
Despite his significant financial resources, built in part from his time in Kufuor’s government and various contracts under the current administration, Ken Agyapong is aiming for a 30% share in the August 26 special election. However, sources within the ruling NPP are tipping Vice President Dr. Bawumia to win convincingly with no less than 70% of the votes.
Many of Mr. Agyapong’s employees are astonished at the large sums of money associated with him in connection to his dealings with party members. They note that while he has provided cars and other items to the party, they themselves continue to live in poverty and hardship.
Criticism has been directed at a citrus company he established in the Assin area, known for its extensive orange farms and intended to process oranges into concentrate. The factory reportedly shut down only a few months after production commenced due to poor management by the MP, raising questions about his ability to run the country.
Meanwhile, reports circulating within the party suggest that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, recently transferred substantial funds to Mr. Agyapong, derived from various procurement contracts, which he is using to fund his presidential aspirations.
The ten aspirants in the race for the NPP flagbearer position are Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, the immediate past Minister of Trade; Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia; Kwadwo Poku, an Energy Expert; Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko, a former Minister of Energy; and Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, a former General Secretary of the NPP.
The remaining contenders include Kennedy Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Assin Central; Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, an Economist; Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the immediate past Minister of Food and Agriculture; Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General and Minister of Railways; and Francis Addai-Nimoh, a former MP for Mampong.