Four determined-looking parliamentary candidates have emerged in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency to succeed the incumbent lawmaker, Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown, who lost his bid for a third term at the primaries of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) conducted late in 2015.
The parliamentary candidates are not considered yet by the Electoral Commission (EC) as contenders for the 2016 polls until after they have successfully picked up nomination forms and correctly filed them before the deadline of submission.
The Bolgatanga Central, since Ghana revamped its collapsed democracy in 1992 amid teething troubles that also drew a contagious boycott, has never encountered any parliamentary candidate who is too financially dehydrated to match the EC boot for boot when the commission slaps them with any amount as fees for nomination forms. And it is not likely that any of the current candidates wants to break that unenviable record only 24 years later.
So, we may have all four candidates known so far dancing on Wednesday December 7 in a ‘musical chair contest’ around only one seat up for grabs!
Campaign is in full swing at the camps of the candidates ahead of December. But whilst the contenders say they are working hard in the sun, hawking their manifestos, Starr News has been paying close attention to what their ordinary prospective customers (the voters) in the streets find strange about their campaigns and openly dislike. We begin with Thomas Akurugu of the People’s National Convention (PNC).
Affiliated contender behaving like independent candidate
The PNC’s Thomas Akurugu is an alumnus of the Bolgatanga Senior High School and TI Ahmadiyya Senior High School in Kumasi.
He proceeded to the University of Cape Coast and, then, to the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Today, the 44-year-old politician is a chartered accountant, married with three children.
Voters are angry over a serious omission from his campaign posters and banners posted and hanging everywhere in town. He is standing on the ticket of the PNC, but, as if he is going independent, the picture of the party’s presidential candidate, Dr. Edward Mahama, is not found on any of his posters and banners.
The only figure that accompanies his campaign printouts is the party’s logo- the bent coconut tree. That rare omission has not been found with the campaign materials of the other candidates.
They are accompanied by their respective flagbearers on their posters and banners. In what constituents have found also strange, Mr. Akurugu is alleged to have been asking the electorate to vote for him as parliamentary and for the NDC’s presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama.
But reacting to what is being said about him, the legislator-hopeful told Starr News: “It’s not deliberate. I have a different strategy I’m adopting. There are more posters coming with myself and him (Edward Mahama). And talking about me campaigning for President Mahama, do they have evidence to prove that?
I go round to campaign for myself and my presidential candidate, but it is the same people who rather get up and say they will vote for me and not for my presidential candidate. They are saying it; it is not coming from my end. I try to convince them but they cannot be convinced.”
NPP’s known candidate in unknown company
Rex Asanga, 59, is the candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Bolgatanga Central. He is an old boy of the Kanton Senior High School at Tumu in the Upper West Region.
He furthered his education at the Nyankpala Agricultural College in the Northern Region and, then, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He is an accomplished rural development and project management expert, married with 5 children.
He is widely considered one of the giants in the race. Looking somewhat more determined than his rivals for the coveted seat, Mr. Asanga is busy being visible everywhere- funerals, naming ceremonies, vacation classes, religious programmes, sporting events, etc- obviously to court the support of the electorate.
In fact, the only place Mr. Asanga has not been spotted yet is a maternity room in solidarity with an unfamiliar man whose wife is in labour.
Whilst his position at the top of a visibility rankings chart among his opponents cannot be disputed, he is facing criticisms for not using experienced party social commentators at his disposal for his visibility visits to boost his chances. The candidate is mostly seen accompanied by young men, one of them a former student leader and a serial caller among others.
The young men are showing commitment and supporting him to the best of their abilities, but, because they are not as famous as some of the party’s radio commentators in the region who may make a more attractive company for him, many voters asking: “But who can those two men convince to vote for Rex?”
Explaining why the experienced communicators are not featured in his campaign company, Mr. Asanga told Starr News: “It is not that those young men are not experienced. But there are some faces that are more regular. With some of the youth that you see with me, it also has to do with the type of audience.
So, when you see me going for youth events, I call on those youths. But the most important part of the whole thing is that we have zoned the constituency and those the people would normally want to see around me are working in the zones. We are yet to also really, really hit the ground in terms of formal campaign. When the campaign hits the ground, it is then you will see all those who matter on board.”
NDC’s and the ‘absentee’ candidate
The NDC’s Isaac Adongo, who is 44, obtained his secondary education at the Zamse Senior High Technical School in the Upper East Region and the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) in the Northern Region.
He went further to the University of Ghana Business School, formerly known as the School of Administration, to become the financial consultant that he is today. He is married with four children.
There is a general feeling that Isaac Adongo is avoiding the same voters who will determine his fate in December. He has not been as visible on his home soil as widely expected of him. As many as those who despise him for only being visible on national television stations are those who say he is dodging his own people because he is broke, reportedly having exhausted all his resources on his overthrow project against an Opam-Brown who allegedly had made his desire public to be a “Mugabe” in Parliament.
And very strong are the public suspicions that Mr. Adongo has a secret reservoir of resources but he is only waiting to unleash the financial arsenal at the last minute when his opponents, who surged forward “too early” in the campaign marathon, may have lost their financial stamina.
Replying his critics, Mr. Adongo said: “If you go to Zuarungu in the Bolga East Constituency, how often do you see Dr. Ayine? Not very often. But is it because he doesn’t have resources? If you go to Navrongo, how often do you see Mark Woyongo? Is it because he doesn’t have resources? I have heard people from Builsa North complaining about Agalga. But is it about resources? It’s about the fact that you have some commitments outside of the jurisdiction that make it difficult for you to come as you would have wished."
He added: "For now, I work and live in Accra. Apart from that, I also have some party obligations at the national level. But in the next 3 months, we are coming to live with them there.”
The invisible lone voice of the CPP
The only female in the race for the Bolgatanga Central seat is Latifa Abdul-Rahman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
At 30 and single, she has attained Master of Education in Educational Administration and Management. She is an alumna of the University of Education Winneba in the Central Region, the St. John Bosco College of Education in the Upper East Region and the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) in the Northern Region.
Her campaign has been so financially muffled that the temptation to believe CPP is not going to contest in Bolgatanga Central this year is overwhelming.
With less than 3 months to the elections, her campaign posters are not seen anywhere yet. And Isaac Adongo, whom we just heard say he has not been visible on the campaign grounds because he lives and works in Accra, scores a higher mark for visibility, in the estimation of many, than Latifa who looks more stationed in the constituency.
In her explanation to Starr News, she said: “I was away. I went to school. I came three weeks, getting to a month. I’m still putting myself together for the campaign. And quite apart from that, the party hasn’t given us our support yet; so, campaigning isn’t that easy. But my posters and those things they are talking of, I’m on it. The problem is we don’t have a car. The party hasn’t given us a car. We haven’t gotten logistics and all that. It’s making things difficult for the party. When I was away, if there was a car, party executives could be attending funerals.”
It is not clear yet if the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has any candidate for Bolgatanga Central for 2016 as there is no sign to that effect.
Parties’ performances from 2008 to 2012 in Bolga
The NDC’s Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown in 2008 (before the Bolgatanga Constituency was divided between the central and the east) won the seat with 28,656 (57.7%) votes. Mercy Alima Musah of the NPP got 10,063 (20.2%) votes.
David Apasera attracted 10,009 (20.1%) votes with CPP’s Evelyn Lamisi Anabila polling 640 (1.3%) ballots. Anyema Robert Abiiro of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) gathered 229 (0.5%) and Solomon Atiah Awuni of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) gained 97 (0.2%) votes.
The 2012 polls saw the NDC’s Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown acquire 28, 144 (59.12%) votes. Dr. Gheysika Agambila of the NPP obtained 13, 464 (28.28%) votes whilst the PPP’s Robert Analmoga garnered 3,523 (7.40%). The PNC’s Lawyer Rockson Akugre attracted 2,260 (4.75%) and Saeed Jafar Mohammed of the National Democratic Party (NDP) got 216 (0.45%) votes.
Check out photos of candidates in gallery.
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