Politics of Sunday, 20 December 2015
Voting is underway in the North Tongu Constituency of the Volta Region, where members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are voting to elect a Parliamentary Candidate for the 2016 elections.
But Citi News’ Elvis Washington reports that turnout appears to be low. The constituency has a registered voter population of 17,070, who are expected to cast their ballot at 109 polling centres.
Washington says as at midday, some polling centres had recorded low turnout with the Bator Catholic B Polling station recording as low as 25 voters.
The voter apathy he says may have been as a result of the delay in holding the primary and also because it’s taking place on a Sunday.
The election was suspended after an aspirant, Christopher Kofi Eleblu, who was disqualified by the NDC National Petition Review Committee on October 14, on grounds that he was once prosecuted for defrauding the State to the tune of GHc646, 000.00 filed an injunction to stop the election.
However, his suit was thrown out by the court paving the way for voting today.
The incumbent MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, will be seeking his second term bid against two other contenders.
Suggestions are that, the disqualified Mr. Eleblu, was the Deputy Education Minister’s fiercest contender, and that he [Okudzeto] may have played a role in getting him disqualified, a claim he has denied.
The two other contenders in today’s poll are Mr. Bennet Apple, a businessman, and a former MP for the constituency Mr. Charles Hodogbe, who is attempting a comeback.
He represented the constituency on two occasions in Parliament until he lost the bid to Okudjeto Ablakwa in 2012.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, who voted at the Methodist Primary School Polling Center at Salem Aveyime in the company of his wife, told Citi News he was optimistic that turnout will improve.
“I know that the build-up has been quite slow because the people of North Tongu are very religious; virtually every church in Ghana has an established branch here so our members decided to go to church before they return to vote so I am sure that by close of the day voter turnout will be high.”
According to Mr. Okudzeto, unity in the constituency remains vital; adding that he would have wished the disqualified aspirant was allowed to contest. Nonetheless he urged him and his followers to remain loyal to the party.
“Unity is very important because we want to move higher from the 93% vote we gave to Mahama in 2012 to 97%. We believe that the President has done so much for this constituency and we ought to show appreciation. Because of this objective we are not allowing anyone to divide our ranks; we are pursuing an agenda of unity and reconciliation. I stated publicly that my opponent who was disqualified should have been allowed to contest because I am confident of beating him. The last election we were seven and yet I won. I hope he and his people will respect the ruling of the court because it is not the doing of anyone in North Tongu.”
Mr. Ablakwa is highly tipped to win the primary.
There are still two outstanding primaries in Ketu South and Nkwanta South, which are also on hold due to disagreements spearheaded by disqualified aspirants.
The Volta Regional Chairman of the NDC Mr. Kwadwo Gyapong told Citi News in an earlier interview that the two remaining primaries will come off as soon as all legal issues are cleared.
“Ketu-South’s case is still in court and as soon as we get clearance, we will hold the primary. That Nkwanta-South too we are hoping that sooner or later, everything will be cleared so we can hold he election.”