Battle for Builsa South seat; Why Dr Apaak will beat Azong

Apaak Name Dr Clement Apaak

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 Source: The National Tribute

As it is less than 45 days to the presidential and parliamentary general elections, one of the constituencies which political pundits and social commentators are watching closely is the Builsa South, which is currently the lone seat for the People National Convention (PNC).

The Builsa South Constituency seat, which is currently held by Hon. Alhassan Azong of the People's National Convention (PNC), is one of the safe seats that has been held by the ruling NDC since 1992.

The seat was won by Norbert Garko Awullay of the NDC in 1992, he held onto it until Hon. Abolimbisa Roger Akantagriwen of the same NDC took over in 2004. Hon. Alhassan Azong took over the seat in the 2008 and during the 2012 elections.

It is widely believed that the same NDC party assisted the PNC man who has been on the side of the party since his elections into parliament, to hold onto the seat until date and the NDC party has now withdrawn its support and thrown it behind Dr Apaak.

According to our information, the desire of Dr. Apaak, a Simon Fraser University product, to contest the seat on the ticket of the NDC, was not borne by his own desires to enter the Ghana's parliament. He had to succumb to numerous requests from his constituents and some opinion leaders in the constituency who believe he has a lot to offer Ghana's second most powerful political institution.

This means that, Dr Apaak, known as 'the man of many strict principles' will be smiling to parliament after he sailed through the NDC primaries which many are confident will be 'cool chop' for him.

When The National Tribute news team visited the area, some of the residents said they have found in the former boss of Forum for Justice and Governance (FJG) a man who can help reform the under fired parliament of Ghana and will also help spearhead developmental projects in the area.

They noted that some politicians always only came to tell the people in the constituency to vote for them in order for them to help the people later but such help never came.

"Long before he nursed the ambition of becoming a politician, Dr. Apaak has always offered various kinds of help to area," they pointed out.

"He does not discriminate when offering assistance to us. He does not care about one's political affiliation. He has always helped us and the constituency in terms of development and we think he will do more when given the opportunity", one of the key opinion leaders in the area, who wants to remain anonymous, told the paper.

For the youth in the constituency, Dr Apaak has been an inspiration to them and accepting to represent them was good news to them. They have therefore pledged to leave no stone unturned to make sure he represents the constituency in the next parliament of Ghana.

According to the youth, apart from the fact that Dr. Apaak has been inspirational to them, he has also created employment opportunities for many of them. This, they say, is a mark of a good leadership and they believe he will do more for them when he finally gets to Parliament.

Dr. Apaak, who is a presidential staffer and the right hand man to president Mahama, will be more than battle ready for the seat. Though there is this funny tag that the seat is going to be 'NDC vs. NDC', recent pronouncements by Mr Azong has betrayed that funny tag, leaving him as an orphan who is finding it difficult to convince the electorate for their votes.

The NPP who candidate should have capitalized on that to give Dr Apaak a chase for his money is widely believed to be the local representative for the now infamous DKM micro finance company which swindled lots of his constituents of their hard earned cash. And looking at the way his opponents play their cards well, he is out of the race.

Why Azong Plotted His Own Defeat

Mr Azong, who is also a Minister of State in- charge of Public Sector Reforms in the current administration, was alleged to have openly asked the electorates in the Builsa-South constituency to vote out President Mahama in the December 7 polls.

Seeking re-election for the third term, he said this barely about two months ago in the company of his party national executives including the flag-bearer, Dr. Edward Nasigri Mahama during his endorsement as the PNC's parliamentary candidate for Builsa-South constituency. What he said has angered members of the NDC family.

And by his public rejection of President Mahama by the incumbent MP, according to sources close to NDC Builsa-South constituency, he has incurred the wrath of some kingpins in the governing party, particularly, those from the North who have vowed to teach him a lesson, come November 7.

They could not understand why Mr. Azong who has served many years as a minister under the NDC government, could openly reject their flag-bearer of the very governing party, he is currently serving under as a minister, describing him as an "ingrate".

"How can you bite the hand that feeds you? This is politically unwise and we, in the NDC will make sure we reclaim our seat we lost in 2008", the NDC stalwarts said.

And consequently, backed by their words, a high-powered out-reach team led by the former Minister of the Interior, Hon. Mark Woyongo, who is also the NDC's MP for Navrongo Central in the Upper East region, went to Builsa South constituency a fortnight ago to interact with the constituents and also to strategise on how to make Hon. Azong pay for his betrayal and ingratitude.

The team, which included some national and regional executives and some presidential staffers, was the first of its kind as NDC executives and sympathizers in the Builsa- South constituency converged at the popular Azuwire Guest House to plan how their candidate, Dr. Clement Apaak will win the seat.

Speakers at the function admitted Mr Azong could not have said anything different from what he was reported to have said, having taken his flag-bearer along with him, they condemned his action (s) and further described it as "gross ingratitude" to President Mahama and the NDC government.

For instance, Hon. Mark Woyongo, the sources indicated, was emphatic that the NDC in Builsa-South cannot continue to have a PNC candidate to represent them for the third time.

According t the source, Hon. Woyongo admitted further that the contest would not be an easy one, he was very optimistic that, Dr. Apaak will win the seat for the NDC and as well increase the presidential votes of President Mahama.

According to him, it would be needless to vote for a candidate whose party will not come to power anytime soon.

"What is the point in voting for Hon. Azong when his party (PNC) is not coming to power anytime soon?", he was reported to have asked.

Consequently, he called on the electorate in the constituency to ensure that, Dr. Apaak and President Mahama win massively in both the parliamentary and presidential elections in the November 7, polls.

Describing Dr Apaak as affable, a unifier, a development-oriented person, a grassroots man, intelligent, dynamic and above all, a committed member of the NDC, our sources said the team urged the rank and file of the party in the constituency to ensure that a victory for President Mahama and their candidate becomes possible.

For his part, the NDC constituency secretary for Builsa South, Ben Adocta, who apparently was present when Hon. Azong made the assertion, expressed disquiet about what happened on that day.

"How could Hon. Azong bring President Mahama's competitor to campaign for him (Azong) and as well cast aspersions against the President and the NDC, when he is still the beneficiary of the generosity of President Mahama and the NDC?", he averred.

According to sources, Mr. Adocta, who was not enthused a bit about what Hon. Azong did, noted that such an act of disrespect cannot twist the arm of President Mahama and the NDC to give up on Dr. Clement Apaak.

Instead, he said, it has energised and unified the NDC in both national and regional levels to reclaim their seat.

To this end, the sources said, he pledged his constituency's unflinching support for Dr. Apaak and President Mahama, assuring them of massive victory on December 7.

Campaigning in the constituency has become hard for Mr. Azong since campaigning against NDC will amount to "biting the hand that is feeding you", it will also be politically unwise for Mr. Azong to advocate for 'skirt and blouse'.?

The Effect Collapsed PNC-NDC Marriage

Meanwhile, what used to be a 'political marriage' between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the People's National Convention (PNC) has totally broken down because of some comments made by the failed flag bearer of the PNC, Dr Edward Mahama.

Whatever must have caused the disaffection between the two parties, some political analysts said, was the reason why the PNC will miserably lose their lone seat to the NDC.

In the case of Builsa South, they are not much surprised that the NDC wants to take the seat back, having tried it in 2008 and 2012 after losing it in 2004.

The loyalty of the PNC's man was divided, having allegedly asked the Builsa South constituents to vote for him, as well as for his party's flag-bearer, Dr. Edward Nasigiri Mahama.

"This is the highest form of betrayal and I never expected Mornarh to do that to us, although he can't unseat Hon. Alban Bagbin," a member of NDC.

Azong's alleged deadly romance with NPP factor will play a crucial role in the elections

Some of the constituents have also accused Mr Azong of dinning and wining with enemies of the government who are vowing to run down the President and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The said the Minister is alleged to be revealing very sensitive secrets of the government to bigwigs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) with the promise that the leadership of NPP will also help him to retain his parliamentary seat.

According to them, the MP, who belongs to a lot of groups created by top government officials to discuss sensitive issues concerning governance and the pending elections, have been leaking such information to the largest opposition party that is fixed on winning the general elections at all cost.

They further alleged that he has been holding various meetings with Mr Gabby Otchere-Darko and Mr Atta Akyea who are all close confidants of the NPP torchbearer on how the NPP could galvanise their supporters in his constituency to vote for him to retain his seat.

"This game of politics is scratch my back and I also scratch yours, but I think the NDC has gotten it wrong, and that it will dearly pay for it," Mr. Azong was alleged to have told a confidante shortly after his acceptance speech on that Saturday.

According to him, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) did it for Freddie Blay and Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom when they stood on the tickets of the Convention People's Party (CPP) for the Ellembele and Komenda Edina Eguafo Abirem (KEEA) constituencies in the Western and Central regions respectively, during President Kufuor's administration in 2004 when the two served with the then government, which, he said, made the NPP not to contest those seats, but instead, supported them.

These allegations by a section of the electorate is spreading dangerously throughout the constituency and is going to seriously affect the votes of Mr Azong come December.

They described the PNC's MP call as "betrayal of the highest order", and appealed to the President not to tolerate such a character in his government. "You can't work at Unilever and expect at the end of the month to be paid by Guinness Ghana Limited. It is never done anywhere. We (NDC) cannot take care of him, for him to go out and campaign against us at the end of the day. Never!" the NDC members said.

The campaign team of Azong have been magnifying his developmental achievements in terms of road, access to potable water, health among others. Team Apaak on the other hand is also claiming credit for almost all the projects the constituency has benefited for the past 3 years.

Projected winner

This seat could have of the difficult seats to call but because Azong has been weakened by his divided loyalty and somewhat betrayal of the NDC it is obvious that the NDC will snatch the seat back.

Dr Apaak on the other hand is seen as an "Home boy". Putting everything together, Apaak's relationship with the president has puts him ahead of Azong. It is predicted that Dr Apaak will recapture the seat for the NDC.

Columnist: The National Tribute