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The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has finally fixed its much-awaited parliamentary primaries at Chiana-Paga in the Upper East region for Saturday July 9, 2016.
The decision comes about seven months after the constituency failed to run its own internal election alongside several other areas where primaries were conducted simultaneously across the country on Saturday, November 21, 2015.
Reasons for putting the primaries in the area on hold are still unclear. But it was widely rumoured that the event was suspended following threatening agitations by supporters of some aspirants over alleged attempts to disqualify their preferred contenders.
A letter signed and issued Monday by the party’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, to the Upper East Regional executives of the party stated that “the report of vetting of parliamentary candidates for the Chiana-Paga constituency has gone through further investigations and the results have been upheld”.
It continued: “Consequently, the parliamentary primaries are scheduled for Saturday, the 9th of July, 2016. The following candidates have been cleared to participate in the election: Hon. Abuga Pele, MP; Mr. Jonathan Nyaaba; Lawyer Rudolph Nsorwine Amega-Etego.”
12,200 delegates to choose candidate Twelve thousand, two hundred delegates are expected to choose who among the three aspirants will lead the party into the November 7 polls, this year.
The Chiana-Paga Constituency Chairman, James Kojo Kupanamo, told Starr News the primaries would run at forty-eight voting centres, one in each of the forty-eight electoral areas of the Kassena-Nankana West District.
“I’ve informed all my constituency executives and they are very excited about the news. We hope from now we would now put in place all the modalities that would ensure a free and fair election so that at the end of the day the three aspirants who are contesting, when any of them wins, at least the rest would be willing to support the person when the process is free and fair.
“So, for us, as a constituency, we are very excited and we want to show our appreciation to the national executives, even though belated. We hope we are now beginning the process of having a parliamentary candidate who will represent us in all our activities for the party in the constituency,” the chairman added.
Defections herald NDC’s primaries The NDC is going into the July 9 primaries with an undisclosed number of youths alleged to be its members said to have decamped only last week at Nakolo, the hometown of the sitting Member of Parliament, Abuga Pele, to join the party’s main rivals, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The new political converts, wearing NPP-branded white t-shirts with the inscription “Youth for Change” at a ceremony reportedly organised by the NPP, said they had to abandon the NDC because its government had failed to extend the rural electrification project to their community, had refused to provide them with good roads and had refused to lend an ear to the cry of the community over a collapsed classroom block at the Nakolo Junior High School.
Clement Dandori, the NPP’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency, dressed in a black-and-white smock with an NPP muffler dabbed with the party’s colours and the elephant logo around his neck throughout the ceremony, briskly embraced the defectors into the ‘elephant fold’ and at once assured them of a rewarding place in the Dankwa-Busia-Dombo circle.
But Mr. Kupanamo, describing the ceremony as nothing new in Chiana-Paga, dismissed the development as “fake defections”.
“Let me assure you that for Nakolo, we’ve had these things. When Honourable Leo Kabah was contesting, when Madam Katumi was contesting, we had these fake defections. If the defections are real, they should come up with their [NDC] membership cards, show to the media that, yes, this is my membership card and today I’m announcing to the public that I’m defecting from the NDC to the NPP,” the chairman, with a sigh of amusement, challenged.
He explained further: “We had these defections right from 2000, 2004 to 2008. It’s on record that at times, for the three past consecutive elections, after the so-called defections, they record even less than the number of polling station executives they have at the three polling stations at Nakolo. So, where are those defections from? They are fake defections. They are NPP people who came out to pretend as if they are NDC people defecting to NPP. They should show proof that they are really NDC members. We are not disturbed about that.”
NPP "mocked" NDC Whilst the NDC supporters still have to wait until July 9 before their candidate for the November election is known, the NPP, who held their primaries on Saturday June 13, 2015, one full year ago, already have a candidate whose face seems to have been marketed enough to deliver grief to the NDC’s eventual winner, who will have only four months to campaign before November.
One worry the delay in the NDC’s primaries in the area had brought to the party, Mr. Kupanamo disclosed, was the mockery the party reportedly suffered at the hands of their main rivals as a result.
“What we were worried about was the fact that the continuous delay was creating room for the NPP to have a field day because every social gathering we go, their parliamentary candidate leads them. We go there as executives. And at times they even mock us that we don’t have a parliamentary candidate,” Mr. Kupanamo recounted.
But the limited time ahead of the NDC’s campaign launch also appears to be the least of the party’s worries.
“As for us, as an NDC party in the constituency, we have a well-structured team that even if it’s one week to the November election, irrespective of whoever is the candidate, even if it’s a week to the election, we would still retain the Chiana-Paga seat for the NDC. I can give that assurance,” the chairman affirmed.
NDC still controls Chiana-Paga The NDC has dominated elections in the Chiana-Paga Constituency since the return of democracy to Ghana in 1992. The party, in what came as a shock to many across the country, lost the seat to NPP’s Leo Alowe Kabah in 2008 after one of the aspirants who featured in the NDC’s primaries in 2007 became dissatisfied with the results and stood independent, splitting the votes with the party’s candidates and in the process giving the NPP’s candidate a historic edge.
In 2012, the NDC’s Abuga Pele returned, winning with a colossal gap when he attracted 21,552 votes, representing 63.49%, as against the 7,246 votes or 21.35% obtained by Leo Alowe Kabah of the NPP, who finished second in the race.
Aloah Adoa Muniru of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Francis Niagia Santuah of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the Convention People’s Party’s (CPP’s) Desmond Ayirevire polled 323 votes (0.95%), 4,705 ballots (13.86%) and 121 votes (0.36%) respectively.
The 2012 presidential election in the Chiana-Paga Constituency saw the NDC’s John Dramani Mahama attract 25,815 votes (73.59%), leaving far behind the NPP’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo with 6,659 votes, representing 18.98%.
Hassan Ayariga of the PNC garnered 498 votes (1.42%); Dr. Henry Herbert Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), 161 votes (0.46%); the PPP’s Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom 158 ballots (0.45%); Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate, 118 votes (0.34%); Akwasi Addai Odike of the United Front Party (UFP) 63 votes (0.18%) and the CPP’s Dr. Michael Abu Sakara Foster 46 votes (0.13%).
NPP’s Clement Dandori is a retired civil servant. Abuga Pele, a tax expert and veteran legislator, has been in Parliament for 12 years so far. Rudolph Amenga-Etego is a lawyer and Jonathan Nyaaba, a conservationist of cultural heritage.
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