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Politics of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Alhaji Muntaka to retain Asawase seat?

Until the late President J.E.A. Mills relieved the Member of Parliament (MP) of Asawase, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak of his position as Minister of Youth and Sports as a result of some developments at the ministry, the young man’s household in the constituency has been working in the quite. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and Alhaji Muntaka appears to have overcome the shock and is ready to battle the rest to retain his seat.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other parties in opposition have never found it easy battling the strength of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Asawase Constituency.

With the December 7 elections barely three weeks away, questions are being raised as to whether the NPP’s parliamentary candidate, Nana Okyere Tawiah-Antwi, would be able to turn the tables.

Candidates contesting the seat are Nana Okyere Tawiah-Antwi, NPP, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, NDC, Jerry Joseph Quayson, PPP, and Abdulai Umaru, PNC, Elias Mohamed, CPP, Yakubu Adams, NDP, and Alhassan A. Majeed, independent.

But, once again many political analysts say it is going to be a two-horse race between the NDC and NPP candidates.

Muntaka burst onto the political scene in a 2005 by-election in the constituency after the death of the then NDC MP, Dr Gibril Adamu Mohammed, who had won the seat in the 2004 election.

Youthful, articulate and hardworking, Muntaka won the hearts of the predominantly Muslim constituency.

He went ahead to sweep aside other candidates to win the 2008 elections after which President Mills appointed him a Minister of Youth and Sports.

The President later relieved him of his post over some developments at the ministry, a situation the NPP is trying to capitalise on to secure the seat.

Asawase belongs to the ‘triumvirate’ NDC constituencies in Ashanti (the two others being New Edubiase and Ejura Sekyedumase) that have held off ‘the NPP’ attempt to take full control of the region.

From 2004 when the constituency was created following the realigning of the Asokwa East and Asokwa West constituencies, the NDC has held sway and it appears history will repeat itself in the 2012 elections.

Nonetheless, the NPP have sworn to wrest the seat this time but this will demand extraordinary work.

For the second time, the NPP is putting up a Christian to battle in a predominantly Muslim community and it remains to be seen how the battle would go.

While some analysts have questioned the basis of putting up a candidate who is a Christian in a Muslim populated community, the NPP thinks that does not matter and that they are poised to wrest the seat for the first time.

The NPP’s argument is that, this is the second time they are going with a non-Muslim and that the performance of the earlier candidate in 2004 was better than when they went with a Muslim.

In that election, the NPP’s Patricia Appiagyei had 29,076 votes ( 43.1 per cent of total valid votes) as against Dr Gibril Adamu Mohammed of the NDC who had 33,541 of 49. 7 per cent.

Persistently, the NPP claims the NDC is losing its grip on the constituency citing some defections that they claim had hit the ruling party as a strong basis for their belief.

Earlier this year, a group of people who claimed to be supporters of the ruling party in the Quarmariyah Electoral Area in the Asawase Constituency announced their defection to the NPP.

Before then, other alleged NDC supporters in the Sawaba and Aboabo Nima, all Muslim dominated neighbourhoods in the Asawase constituency claimed they had defected to the NPP.

But the NDC dismissed the alleged defections describing them as stage-managed and of no value to diminishing the strength of the party in the constituency.

In the 2005 by election, Muntaka had 31,017 votes representing 60.45 per cent of the total votes cast while the NPP’s Shaibu Musah Sharif had 19,875 representing 38.7 per cent of the total votes cast with Ibrahim Mohammed Issaka, PNC, having 418 votes.

For the 2008 elections, Muntaka retained the seat with 36,234 votes or 56.6 per cent of the total votes while his closest challenger, Dr Mohammed Abdul Kabir of the NPP, secured 27,118 votes or 42.4 of the total valid votes cast.

At the launch of his campaign, about three weeks ago, Muntaka expressed optimism that the signs were clear that the NDC would retain the seat.

He mentioned the numerous developments that had taken place in the constituency since he became MP and said there was no way the people would not show gratitude to the NDC.

But the NPP’s Nana Tawiah-Antwi has dismissed Muntaka’s assertion, saying the MP was a failure and that the constituency was not ready to send him back to Parliament.

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