Opinions Wed, 22 May 2013

The Race for Bawku MCE: Will Ayariga Prevail?

*By Ibrahim Solomon Awinbon (isawinbon@gmail.com)*

The ongoing scheming, lobbying and manoeuvring for the post of Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the bustling Bawku Municipal Assembly, look quite intriguing. Undoubtedly, it is a search for big post which when secured, entitles the position holder to venerable accolades such as “the honourable MCE, head of the Municipal Security Council, the President’s chief representative,” among others.

The post of MCE is indeed a big one and thus, ordinarily, it should not be surprising that the search for it is characterised by intense lobbying. However, when people who have bigger posts and not seeking to become the MCE, get deeply involved in the lobbying than the aspirants themselves, then there can be legitimate cause for alarm and suspicicion. This is the case in the contest for the Bawku MCE post.

On the face of it, it appears to be a simple competition for the MCE position among some key members of the ruling National Democratic Congress in the area. However, those privy to the stealthy goings on in the corridors of power, know that what is actually happening is a tough competition involving Hon. Mahama Ayariga on one hand, and the masses, party loyalists, the youth and opinion leaders of Bawku, on the other.

For Hon. Ayariga, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, the incumbent MCE, Mr. Musah Abdulai, must be re-nominated and approved to continue with the job despite his (the MCE’s) four-year record of unenviable poor performance and no development.

Mr. Abdulai, a Sociology graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, is also hoping for an ‘Ayariga magic’ that will help him stay on as the political head of the Bawku Municipality. The MCE’s confidence and trust in the potency of Hon. Ayariga’s influence is not based on mere hope but on the fact that the Bawku Central legislator got him the job four years ago against all odds. So there is a positive precedent of the efficacy of the Ayariga magical wand.

In 2009, even though Hon. Ayariga lost the Bawku Central seat to the less famous Adamu Dramani of the NPP, he managed to exploit his close relationship with then President Mills to have Mr. Abdulai appointed as the MCE. Prior to his appointment, the incumbent MCE was an employee of the Legal Resource Centre, an NGO founded by Hon. Ayariga and his friend, Dr. Raymond Atuguba.

In his quest to have his way in the current race, Hon. Ayariga, is not waiting to be prompted before he exploits the benefit of having his close pal and Harvard colleague, Dr. Atuguba, as the Executive Secretary to the President – a position that many believe makes the soft-spoken and gentle former teacher of law at the University of Ghana, more influential at the presidency than even the Chief of Staff.

Even though the Bawku Central MP does not enjoy the darling-boy-status under President Mahama as he did enjoy under President Mills, his position as the chief spokesperson of the Mahama government grants him the benefit of having the President’s ears quite often. So despite his initial persistent goofs in the discharge of his duties as Minster for Information and Media Relations, Hon. Ayariga is still an influential figure in the Mahama administration. He can, thus, prevail on the President to re-nominate Mr. Abdulai as the MCE for Bawku against the wish of the masses on the ground.

As the drama unfolds, the big question has been: So why is Hon. Ayariga bent on having the incumbent imposed on the people of Bawku for the second time? The answer is simple. Mr. Abudulai has all the desired qualities and attributes that perfectly match Hon. Ayariga’s requirements for the post of MCE for Bawku.

These qualities and attributes are: one, the person must be ready and willing to answer with a double “yes sir” when the MP calls; two, the person must and should never dream of using the MCE position to nurse any ambition of becoming or supporting someone to become MP for Bawku Central; and finally, the person must be willing to act, and should actually act, in ways that will promote the agenda of Hon. Mahama Ayariga as the MP for Bawku Central, now and beyond.

So will Ayariga have his way? Well, many are those who doubt if the president will succumb to the whimsical pressure from his information minister and grant him his selfish wish, over and above the desire of the masses of Bawku who are yearning for a change.

For now, the influential NDC chairman for the Upper East region, Alhaji Mumuni Bolnaba, who supported Hon. Ayariga to have the incumbent MCE appointed four years ago, has had to give in to the loud chorus of demand for change by the masses. So unless he is compelled by some unexpected covert presidential orders to recant his avowed opposition to having the incumbent re-appointed, Alhaji Bolnaba will keep flashing the yellow card and ultimately show Mr. Abdulai the red card.

Also, there have been a series of demonstrations by sections of the youth in Bawku who know no political diplomacy, and are bent on overtly pressing home their demand for a new MCE.

Last week, some influential youth from Bawku who are resident in Ashaiman, also declared their opposition to the incumbent MCE to Hon. Ayariga. This happened when he met with the youth to thank them for their votes and support during the 2012 elections.

“Look, Honourable, the current MCE made the 2012 campaign very difficult for us. There were many places we went that the people were not ready to listen to us because of their anger against Musa (the MCE is popularly called Musa by the people). So for now, we know you will agree with us that Musa will not be the right person to be MCE again,” Ayariga was told at the meeting amid a thunderous applause in approval of the statement.

An obviously baffled Ayariga had to shelve his intended plan of using the meeting to test the waters and to possibly court support for the embattled MCE. “There is an ongoing vetting process for all MCE and DCEs who were not appointed to different positions so Musa will also go through the same process and a decision will be made based on the outcome,” he told the youth group.

For many of those who were present at Ayariga’s Ashaiman ‘thank you’ meeting, however, whatever criteria will be used in the assessment or vetting of MCEs, the Bawku MCE cannot legitimately pass and, therefore, if he is retained Ayariga and his government will bear their brunt.

So will Ayariga prevail to prove he is the man in charge of Bawku politics, as he will always want people to believe, or President Mahama will listen to the cry and wish of the people of Bawku and grant them the change they desperately desire? We are keeping our fingers crossed for the answer.

Columnist: Awinbon, Ibrahim Solomon