The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh, has proposed what she says would be a re-election formula for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) if thoroughly applied at the 2016 polls.She has strongly recommended that NDC supporters nationwide should not only go all out on December 7 to cast their ballots but each one should also go to the polling station with just five people who will vote for the umbrella party. This, she stressed, would help to actualise the party’s re-election target.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Awutu-Senya West was addressing a crowd of NDC supporters Sunday at Bawku in the Upper East region at the launch of the 2016 election campaign of the MP for Bawku Central and Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mahama Ayariga.
“We have six weeks to go to the election. And six weeks is not a long time. And every vote we need to get for the NDC we need to get for the NDC. And, so, if everybody standing here today, when going to vote on December 7, will take five people to the polling station, NDC will win the election,” she pointed out and paused as the crowd responded with cheers, applause and pooping of vuvuzelas from all corners of the Daduri Park, venue for the launch rally.
She continued: “So, anybody here today who could hear my word, remember that on December 7 you are going to the polling station with five people who you know are going to vote for the NDC- because our government must continue in office. We have done too much and we have taken Ghana too far. We cannot allow for Ghana to go backward. In the words of President Rawlings, we are only going forward.”
The Shatta Wale fever
Ordinarily, the campaign launch was a moment for party members to flaunt party colours and flex their numbers with an unusual display in the streets of Bawku to taunt their political opponents- particularly the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
But what really turned Bawku upside down was what the usually vibrant town appeared to have been promised. Ghana’s dancehall superstar, Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jnr, known by the stage name Shatta Wale and who recently set Tamale 'on fire' when the Minister of Roads and Highways, Inusah Abdulai Fuseini, launched his 2016 election campaign in the Northern regional capital, was widely reported to have been signed up for a stage performance at Bawku Sunday.
Hundreds of NDC-shirted people, many of whom could not wait to see the artiste mount the stage, flooded the streets of the municipality. From sunrise, all through the time Mahama Ayariga, enclosed by a tight convoy of vehicles, waved at noon from the sunroof of his car at street crowds in the Bawku Township and beyond a courtesy call by an Ayariga-led party delegation to the King of the Kusaug Kingdom, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, and up to the hour the campaign rally started, Bawku almost crashed in an open celebration displayed at a depth certainly not seen before in the area in a very long time.
And it could be deduced that the readiness with which the spilling fans, particularly the youth, were willing to do anything to be part of the event from start to finish was influenced much by their love for Ayariga, more by their passion for the NDC and most by their burning desire to see the shaggy-haired songsmith (Shatta Wale) walk to the stage with a microphone behind dark shades.
Disappointments hit crowd, media
After a tour through the town without Shatta Wale, the party supporters, led by the MP, Hannah Tetteh and the Upper East Regional Minister, Albert Abongo, among other big shots, assembled at the rally ground where they were told the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, would arrive with the much-expected songster on a helicopter to join the rally. The party’s regional chairman, Alhaji Mumuni Bolnaba, was addressing the gathering when a white helicopter appeared above a cheering crowd and whirled anticlockwise across the scene of the event.
The aircraft landed at the Bawku Senior High School (BAWSEC) and, moments later, a fleet of V8 raced like a late convoy of ambulances from where the helicopter had touched down to the rally ground. It was the moment the crowd had waited for and no security force could drive them back as they shunned the speakers addressing them from the podium and mobbed the cars on arrival at the ground. But it was a raw shock when the only recognisable 'celebrity' who stepped out after the doors to the cars swung open was Haruna Iddrisu, wearing a sea-blue native dress.
It was only after the Employment Minister had walked straight from the cars, greeted his fellow VIPs at the dias and sat smiling at the dispirited crowd that the multitude came to terms with the cold reality that the dancehall icon was never going to appear there as 'promised'. A number of those who were disappointed, having travelled from afar, told Starr News they had heard announcements on radio indicating that the singer would be in Bawku.
A partially deflated crowd stood to listen to what the dignitaries had to say as speakers took turns to tout government’s achievements in road infrastructure, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), peace and stability, security and job creation. Mr. Ayariga, who spoke last, pledged to facilitate the establishment of a university in the Kusaug Kingdom- a domain that comprises six constituencies including Bawku Central, Binduri, Garu, Tempane, Pusiga and Zebilla. He also promised to attract investors to the area if returned to parliament at the December general elections.
Whilst the crowd seen at Mr. Ayariga’s campaign launch, as observers have put it, is now the biggest so far and one with the highest number of government officials at the NDC’s campaign launch series in the region, it was also the only event so far that had provided a coverage podium for the press. But the same podium turned out to be of no use because it was pitched too far from the pedestal the dignitaries used to address the rally and there were no loud speakers around the wooden platform to amplify what was being said from afar. Journalists were compelled to abandon the elevated structure to rub shoulders with the crowd on the ground for clear pictures and sound.
NDC’s performances in Bawku since 1992
The struggle for power in the Bawku Central Constituency has remained a straight fight between the NDC and the NPP, with the former overwhelmingly dominating the presidential elections since 1992.
The area is considered a swing constituency in the parliamentary wing, the NDC having won the seat 3 times and the NPP twice since 1992 when Hawa Yakubu won as an independent candidate. In 1996, Fati Seidu captured the seat on the NDC ticket, polling 30,045 (42.80%) votes whilst Hawa Yakubu (an independent candidate) and Emmanuel Awini Akami of the People’s National Convention (PNC) got 21,493 (30.60%) and 2,789 (4.00%) respectively.
Hawa Yakubu, representing the NPP, recaptured the seat in 2000, obtaining 22,335 (48.60%) votes. The NDC’s Hajia Fati Seidu garnered 21,461 (46.70%) in the contest that left the PNC’s Abdul K. Yussif in the third position with 1,239 (2.70%) votes. The 2004 elections saw Mahama Ayariga poll 18,518 (48.60%) votes to unseat Hawa Yakubu who attracted 10,169 (26.70%) votes for the NPP in a duel that handed Abubakar Jibreel Ustarz, an independent candidate, 8,574 (22.50%) votes.
The NPP’s Adamu Dramani grabbed the seat in 2008 with 20,157 (53.44%) votes, evicting Mahama Ayariga, who scored 17,385 (46.09%) for the NDC, from the legislative house. In 2012, Mahama Ayariga leaped back to parliament on 24,071 votes, representing 54.86%, from a challenge that gave the NPP’s Alhassan Haruna 19,082 (43.49%) votes, the PNC’s Awini Aguuda Joseph 303 (0.69%), Ibrahim Zaliya of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) 269 (0.61%) and Iddrisu Mubarak of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) 151 (0.34%) votes.
Mahama Ayariga, a legal practitioner, is in a showdown mainly with the NPP's Gabiana Gbanwaa, a medical professional and another woman widely described as strong and influential as the late Hawa Yakubu.