Politics of Tuesday, 8 December 2015
There are some lessons to be learnt in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) primaries held recently in the Upper East Region, particularly for the 45 aspirants that contested, including the incumbent Members of Parliament.
Some of the aspirants were reportedly accused of engaging in vote buying while some of the electorate were also blamed for playing the ethnicity card, hence might have influenced the voting pattern. However, events showed that not all the eligible voters were swayed by those considerations.
It was, therefore, not surprising that three sitting MPs out of the 12 seeking re-elections lost their bid to contest the 2016 parliamentary elections on the ticket of the NDC as they failed to sail through the party’s keenly contested primaries.
They are Mr Emmanuel Akolbire Opam Brown for the Bolgatanga Central Constituency, Mr Noah Ben Azure for the Binduri Constituency and Mr Dominic Azimbe for the Garu Constituency.
Some of the voters accused some of the incumbent MPs who lost of not articulating their concerns in parliament while others also blamed the MPs for losing touch with their constituents.
There are a section of the voters and constituents also, who claimed they just wanted to see new faces. However, some of the MPs described as the political giants in the region sailed through.
They are the sitting MP for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, Mr Cletus Avoka for Zebilla, Mr James Agalga for Builsa North and Dr Dominic Ayine for the Bolgatanga East Constituency.
Suffice it to say that these NDC bigwigs are still holding firm grip of their respective constituencies either because they knew exactly what to do to win the hearts of their constituents or that some of their contenders did not pose any threat to them.
What the primaries also brought to the fore was that out of the three female aspirants that contested only one of them won and she is the incumbent MP for Pusiga, Hajia Laadi Ayii Ayamba. The District Chief Executive for Nabdam Madam Vivian Anafo, and Dr Vida Nyagre, a Lecturer at the University for Development Studies, both could not sail through in the Nabdam Constituency thereby decreasing the number of women who could have arguably got the opportunity of going to parliament after the 2016 elections.
Another upset was the inability of a former Regional Minister, Dr Ephraim Avea Nsoh, to win the NDC primary in Bongo as the only incumbent MP, Albert Abongo, had pulled out of the race. The constituency had six aspirants, the highest among the 15 constituencies of the party.
At Zebilla, Alhaji Anaba Adams, a former DCE, and Mr Simon Ayande Agbango, a sitting DCE, were both beaten by the sitting MP, Mr Avoka, who has been in parliament for about two decades. At Garu, a DCE, Mr Albert Akuka, was able to dethrone an incumbent MP, Mr Dominic Azimbe Azumah. Also at Bawku Central,a former DCE, Mr Musah Abdulai, however, failed to unseat Mr Ayariga,the incumbent MP.
There are some new faces who won the primaries and interestingly they dislodged some incumbent MPs. They are Mr Issac Adongo, a Financial Consultant in charge of the World Bank-funded Ghana Social Opportunities Project at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, who dethroned the incumbent MP, Mr Opam Brown, in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency.
Dr Robert Kuganab-Lem also defeated the incumbent MP, Mr Azure, in the Binduri Constituency while in the Garu Constituency, Mr Albert Akuka,the DCE won, the race as he defeated the incumbent MP,Mr Azimbe.Political pundits believe these new faces were strategic in contesting just at the time the popularity of those incumbent MPs had waned.
One of the aspirants that caused an upset by beating an incumbent MP in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency was Mr Adongo.
Mr Adongo stressed that he won the primaries not because he played the ethnicity card, neither did the electorate vote for him because of tribalism as was being alleged in the media by Lawyer Abraham Amaliba,one of the contestants.He indicated that his victory was as a result of the fact that he had been in constant touch with the people at the grass roots for the past 15 years.
He said apart from that he had been instrumental in addressing some of the challenges facing the people in terms of health, education and farming.
Mr Adongo contended that if indeed eligible voters in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency had played the ethnicity card then how did Mr Amaliba to defeat two of the aspirants including the incumbent MP who were from the same ethnic background “Frafras” like him (Adongo).
One of the losers in the NDC primaries in the Bolgatanga East Constituency, who is obviously not happy about the turn of events, is Mr Timothy Ayamga,a Chartered Accountant.He contested the sitting MP, Dr Dominic Ayine, but lost.He attributed his defeat in the primary partly to the inability of the electorate from his “stronghold” to vote because they could not find their names in the voters register.
He also indicated that although some of the electorate showed him watches and mobile phones allegedly given to them by some of the aspirants, he was confident that but for the voters register issue he could have won the primary.