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Opinions of Friday, 2 October 2015

Columnist: Atungo Gordon

Bawku Central, safe seat for NDC

There's a popular misconception about criticism amongst people of our great party especially in our constituency(Bawku Central). In other dispensations, criticism is seen as a herdsman's staff—in our local parlance we call it “gulungugu”. The herdsman uses this staff to prevent his flock from straying away. That's what our criticism stands for; it's to put our executives in check, not to undermine them.

I had an encounter with one of my comrades which suggests a different perception. Expectedly, I thought we were going to have an intellectual discourse like we used to do on other platforms but to my utter dismay he misconstrued my incessant criticisms to mean antagonism. I may have hit below the belt in some of my submissions but my intent has always (and will always be) to work for the betterment of the party in the aftermath of the primaries. Aye!!!! May be I should bite the bullet and admit that I approach issues tactlessly. But am I the only pebble on the coast ? Absolutely not!!! W'all have our Achilles heels; we all err in one way or the other.

My frustration has always been in our inability to foresee the daunting task ahead of us even if we come out with the most formidable candidate among the trio—The task is a Herculean one.

I've always told my close friends that, the very day we realise that NPP (in Bawku) are more in solidarity with their parliamentary candidate than NDC,will the day NPP will kiss the seat goodbye. The NPP easily rise above their post election bickering and infighting and give us a good run for our money. We on the other hand are susceptible to apathy and loss of confidence in our own. Bawku Central constituency is never a swing seat; it's a safe seat for NDC.

However, we allow complacency to cloud our sense of comradeship; which ends up costing us the seat. It doesn't cost a fortune to stay neutral as an executive or even maintain a low profile when campaigning for your favourite. It doesn't make you a less effective person either. What it does is that,it makes you a friend to all. When we're able to rise about the petty squabbles and come outta the primaries as one people it'll be much easier to maintain the seat.

In 1992 our mother late Hawa Yakubu won the seat as a an independent parliamentary candidate. There's really little to talk about that contest because NPP boycotted all parliamentary contests— as to how they were going to rule if they'd won the presidential elections leaves much to be desired. Let's say that 1992 was nonscoring.

Fast forward to 1996. It was apparently an all-women affair. Suffice it to say it was a two-horse race. At the time,late Hawa Yakubu was the incumbent but was, however punished for contesting on the ticket of NPP. The people at the time were not ready for an NPP parliamentarian. Hajia Fati Seidu as a first-timer . She polled 30,045 votes representing 42.80% of valid votes.

One can argue that though Hawa Yakubu was the incumbent MP, Hajia Fati Seidu perhaps was better placed to oust the her because her( Hajia Fati) party, the NDC was in power and so she'd resources at her disposal to unseat Hawa Yakubu. Others may also relate it to the fact that Electorates in Bawku prefer to change MPs every election.

Hawa Yakubu made a comeback in 2000. She recaptured her seat with 22,335 votes constituting 48.86% whereas Hajia Fati trailed with 21,461 representing 46.70%. At the time, NDC was the ruling party and Hajia Fati was the sitting MP. This appears to support the argument that the people had a propensity to change MPs every election. But mind you, Hawa Yakubu won on the ticket of NPP against an incumbent whose party was the ruling pasty. This development was somewhat novel to the constituency as that was the first time an NPP candidate had won the parliamentary seat.

One didn't need any prowess in rocket science to tell that Hawa Yakubu had lost favour in the eyes of the people Bawku. When you dig a little below the surface you'll realise that she'd no dog's chance in hell to win the election because the complains then were just too many. Mahama Ayariga had returned from the states wielding an enviable degree in law (Harvard university).

He received a resounding welcome from the people and subsequently won the election decisively with a whopping 18,518 votes making a 48.69% of valid votes. Hawa trailed with a paltry 10,169,a meagre 26.70% of the valid votes.

However, there was a parliamentary candidate (Ustarz Baba-Yara) who was believed to have been planted to shortchange Hawa Yakubu. The veracity or otherwise of that assertion still remains a mystery to many. How about reserving that discussion for a rainy day?

Fast forward to 2008; there was little to show that NDC could lose the seat to a “novice”. Adamu Dramani Sakande had returned a “burger” with a lot to spend outta a fortune he'd made in the diaspora. At the time, I personally wrote him off as an underdog. I was ill-informed by what a lot (including the executives of NDC in the constituency) were latching on as basis that it was going to be a stroll in the pack for Mahama Ayariga. But we were left chagrined when Adamu pulled a surprise on us. He won the election in a rather strange circumstance that left us gobsmacked. But it was however, a blessing in disguise as it served as a motivating factor in the subsequent election.

A lot latched on the conflict to think that the voting pattern was going to be sharply divided along tribal lines. With kusaasis as the majority, it was easy to surmise that Hon. Ayariga was going to have it easy. But by the end of polls, the outcome was one big shock to the NDC fraternity. It is interesting to note that in all the elections, NDC won the presidential except in 2008.

This lends credence to the fact that the parliamentary result was rigged in favour of Adamu Dramani(At least I have a very authentic evidence of multiple voting). I remember, I reported the matter to Musah Abdulai who later became the MCE of the area. By the end of polls, Adamu Dramani miraculously polled 20,157, representing 53.44% of valid votes as against Ayariga's 17,385 votes constituting a 46.09%. I still hold the firm view that, that wasn't the true picture of the people's decision.

The results of runoff answers it all. Imagine that in the general election NPP for the first time won in the presidential with 19,933 (50.49%) votes whereas NDC garnered 47.99% i.e 18,943 votes. How the people's decision change in a spur of the moment, to favour the NDC in the runoff when they'd (NDC) lost in the general election is still a mystery. NDC rose from 18,943 to win the runoff with 23,800 votes, a 56.21% of the votes whereas the NPP's votes waned from the record number of 19,933 to 18,540 (43.79%).

We hitherto can't fathom how it happened that a ruling party that won in the generally election could lose abysmally in the runoff. Same trend might have replicated in other constituencies but what happened in Bawku was somewhat different in the sense that:1) that was the first time NPP had won the presidential election and 2) the increase in votes (NDC's) was too sharp (a 4857 vote-difference).

As I stated supra, the NDC learnt lessons in 2008 and went into 2012 more invigorated and formidable. Our elders say what doesn't kill you eventually strengths you; the loss in 2008 eventually gave the NDC a glimpse of how events are going to be in 2012; I trust that explains why we prepared adequately for election-2012 eventually won convincingly. It is noteworthy to state, that we went into election UNITED!!! Unity is key when going into an election,which is why it's imperative that we refrain from doings that'll sow a seed of discord in our camp before 2016.

Statistics over the years has been a tool in making conjectures and predictions. The situation in Bawku as per statistics suggests that NDC stands a brighter chance of retaining the seat. But this conjecture can only come to fruition if we manage the parliamentary primaries with tact and finesse.

History (as enumerated supra) might paint a rather gloomy picture about our chances of retaining the seat but there isn't any scientific basis to conclude that because the seat has been alternating between the two major parties then it'll eventually go in favour of the NPP. But we stand a risk of losing it if we continue to engage in activities that undermines a free and level playing ground for all the aspirants. I don't believe that the Bawku Central seat is a swing seated history and other pundits are making it look; it's a safe seat for the NDC. we only lose it because we fail to tighten the loose knots before going into elections. I'm afraid we might repeating same come 2016.

My plea is for all to eschew comments, actions and inactions that have a tendency to cause post-election bickering.

We need to understand that we're a people with a common goal. The fact that one supports an aspirant doesn't make him a foe.

Any of the aspirants who comes out victorious is my parliamentary candidate, our parliamentary; I will vote for anyone who wins the NDC slot for Bawku Central.

I am not on a hate campaign; I am just advocating for fairness.

Que sera sera.