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Opinions of Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Columnist: Abdul-Samad, Suleman Danaa

Political Dynamics Of The Wa Central Constituency

: A Time For A Re-Thinks: Bernard Mornah, A More Viable Option?

By Suleman Danaa Abdul-Samad


The year 1992 marked a euphoric milestone in the history of mother Ghana as it ushered in multi-party democracy and brought an end to the torrid reign of military rule and dictatorship that plagued our dear country from the early 1960s to the 1980s.The feat was a landmark achievement as Ghana became one of the first countries in the continent of Africa to embrace democracy, a form of governance which had a lot of prospect and was fast gaining credence as the best form of governance the world over. This eventually led to a decimated civil society working hard to resuscitate pluralist ethos within the shortest possible time.


The lifting of the ban on political parties in 1992 brought in its wake the creation of 200 constituencies over the country in which case eligible people could stand for elections and represent the people in parliament. Succinctly, these elected officers became the mouth piece of the people in the various constituencies in parliament where they were expected to help in the passage of laws and bills and initiate policies that will positively affect the lives of constituents throughout the country and bring about national development.


Between 1992 till 2004, only two constituencies existed in Wa. The current Wa West constituency and Wa itself formed the Wa Central constituency while some villages which today form part of Wa Central hither-to were part of Wa East constituency. In effect therefore, the Wa flagship had two constituencies thus Wa Central and Wa East constituencies until 2004 when the Wa West constituency was created and part of Wa East became part of present day Wa Central constituency.

Over the years, the Wa Central constituency has witnessed a voting pattern that has always been skewed in favor of the NDC. From 1992 honorable M.A.Seidu occupied the seat till he handed over to Honorable Rashid Pelpuo in 2004.To this end, local vibe has it that if even a “goat” contest for the seat under the ticket of NDC, that “goat” will surely be in parliament. This feeling of superiority has afforded the NDC the luxury of choice of sticking to consensus as the best form of choosing a candidate to contest general elections rather than conducting primaries.

The myth comes about as a result of the fact that people in the constituency revere former president Rawlings in no small terms and will always be loyal to his cause. To them, the NDC brought the creation of the region and the constituency and under his watch, sons of the region served in key ministerial positions as well as in cabinet.
In as much as we can’t begrudge these enthusiasts on the position they have always taken vis-à-vis elections in the constituency, it is however worth our while to do a careful critique on how such simple reasoning has led to the election of people who could not and have not effectively represented us in parliament.
The honorable M.A.Seidu would always be remembered as one of the finest headmasters, educationists and administrators the constituency ever produced.Unfortunately, his expertise did not command that given the opportunity, he would perform creditably as a parliamentarian.Convincingly, we can say today that his performance fell short of applause due to the fact that his election was dictated by myth and simple reasoning.
In 2004, the good people of Wa central on the same tangent gave honorable Rashid Pelpuo a much touted youth activist the nod. To some few, he represented hope and prospect since he was viewed to be more proactive and could ably replace the old generation whose only contribution was to raise hands to vote, shout yeah yeah and never took part in any active debate to prove a point.
Several months and about six years down the lane, constituents are yet to feel the hope and impact of honorable Rashid’s reign. Though he epitomizes a strong voice in parliament, pertinent problems continue to engulf the constituency. Poverty, hopelessness among the youth, unemployment, increasing numbers of school drop outs are but a few. To exacerbate situations, there is no clear cut developmental agenda spelling out thematic areas which have to be addressed in order to make the lives of the people better. Such developments go far to unearth the reality that an unproductive and unyielding man is at the helm of affairs.
More brilliant but needy children throng the streets because they can’t afford school fees. Tertiary students over the country are being turned out of exam halls every now and then because of tuition fees. Yet we don’t see any initiative by our concerned MP in fixing the problems for which he was elected. The lame attempt at education has only seen us through a system where only law and medical students are given paltry sums which can hardly take them through their meals.
In fact, more people are continuing to be enslaved by economic decadence.
In the midst of these grave issues, little is being done to ameliorate predicaments and usher in a life of hope; yet our dear MP is pre-occupied with the acquisition of modern state –of- the- art automobiles ranging from Lexus, Toyota Land Cruiser to the much talked about multimillion- dollar Range Rover. This is certainly not a man who identifies with the people and their plight.
Aside the aforementioned inadequacies and opulence, Honorable Rashid lacks effective networking capacity to attract sister- city partnerships towards creating new avenues for addressing some of the problems of the constituents.
At this point, one may ask, just like his predecessor, has Honorable Rashid also lived up to the billing of transforming the lives and society which was entrusted to him?
To think that the business of the constituency always has to do with the kith and kin of the NDC is really a wrong trajectory to always thread on.
The vital question a discerning mind with the constituency at heart should ask is, do we as a people prefer non- productive NDC MPs who lack initiative all in the name of party loyalty and hero- worshipping to our most essential and profound development?
In taking a cursory look at the development of politics in Ghana, it becomes so glaring to notice how ethnicity, tribalism and religious affiliation have taken center stage in local and national politics. This unhealthy development has subsequently defined what is generally known as strong holds in Ghanaian politics as one’s election to political office is largely dependent on tribal, ethnic and religious lines and considerations.
The case of the Wa Central constituency goes down in history books as a notable endorser of such an unfortunate convention. People in the region/constituency are of the firm belief that the seat is akin to the “indigenous” Walas, who are predominantly Muslims. Once a person doesn’t fall within this league, he/she hasn’t a dog’s chance of winning elections in the constituency. Even though Mr. Clement Eledi, a former deputy agricultural minister in the erstwhile NPP government might have some peculiar short comings as a person, his inability to annex the seat can be largely attributed to this factor and others raised earlier in this piece. It is important to note also that Mr. Bernard Mornah also contested the seat in 2004 and lost out on the same frivolous considerations despite his enormous capability.
The dis-service the good people of the Wa Central constituency have been doing to themselves has gone on for far too long. Therefore a clarion call for a paradigm shift from the simplistic terms with which we elect people to represent us to more critical and analytical considerations is essential. The very decisions we make as a people today have serious ramifications on our lives and that of our children and grand children tomorrow. It is therefore paramount that in electing an MP, there is the need to move away from cosmetic and divisive undertones to electing people with mettle, vision and charisma. It will suffice if we elect people who command unification prowess and identify very much with the people. Such qualities will place a qualified seeker on a better pedestal to settle deep seated conflicts that have become common in the constituency. To this end, there is the need to sensitize our illiterate folk on the need to vote for people who have the dexterity and urge to transform our lives and society for a better tomorrow ahead of times.

As a very concerned constituent who has over the years lamented over the sorry state of development and general conditions affecting lives in the constituency, I have come to the realization that for our pertinent problems to be solved, we need a gem of a leader with vision unbound to lead us through this transformation.
I firmly find all these attributes and personality in Mr. Bernard Anbataayela Mornah.
Mr. Bernard Anbataayela Mornah is a son of the Upper West Region with vast leadership acumen. Currently the General Secretary of the People National Convention (PNC), Mr. Bernard Mornah has been in the trenches and very well identifies with the youth, the ordinary man and the problems they face every day.
As young as he is youthful, he is revered by the youth, market women, farmers, fellow politicians and statesmen alike. Driven by his youthfulness, he has over time made concerted efforts to redeem self-belief, unity and purposefulness among the rank and file of the youth in the constituency through various avenues such as the Bernard Mornah Annual Youth Fun Games and The Youth Focus Consult which seeks to support talents in sports and entertainment to realize their fullest potentials in life. The annual fun games witnessed the youth from all political divides, religious persuasions and different tribal and ethnic lines come together to engage in fun games. Whiles unearthing untapped hidden talent, a sense of togetherness has been restored and in the eyes of the teeming youth, everyone has become a brother’s keeper. What else could we be looking for in a unifier to bring us together in the maze of deep seated conflicts that have bedeviled the constituency?
As vibrant as he is articulate, his opinion is sought almost on all national issues and his contributions have always received rave reviews across the political divide. He played leading roles in agitations that have helped put governments in check. His continued stress on the need for equitable distribution of resources and prompting government on the plight of the ordinary man goes a long way to stress his passion for the plight of the man on the street and thus quest for right leadership for Ghana.
As an avowed Nkrumaist who believes in the character and ideologies of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, he has continuously espoused that a balanced life is essential for revitalization.
Due to his astuteness, and ingrained leadership qualities, Mr. Mornah served as deputy CEO of the local organizing committee that successfully hosted the Hockey African Cup of Nations in Ghana in 2009.Immediately after that, he was again appointed by His Excellency President Mills as the Secretary to the Kwame Nkrumah Centenary Celebrations Planning Committee. The success of this event still echoes in Ghana, Africa and the world at large. At the time of putting this piece together, he had just been elected to be part of an interim seven- member steering committee to come out with a charter on political parties in West Africa at a conference staged in Abidjan- Cote D’Ivoire.
At this point the cynics among us may say that past or present office holders were or have also been in a number of committees or national offices. That may be right but the most important dichotomy is that apart from following already existing status quo, nothing new was brought on board to prove that they left such offices in better shapes than when they took over. They simply did not initiate anything and even if they did, little can be recorded as achievements. All this amounted to the fact that they lacked or lack ideas and cannot simply make tough choices and decisions as leaders. Such crop of condescending leaders obviously can’t lead us through any meaningful transformation.
The political dynamics of the Wa Central constituency may be complicated. As a conscious people however, it is imperative to re-write the story of the political decisions we make. Let us concentrate our efforts on decisions that will yield results for the greater good of society rather than the selfish cravings of a few.
Being generational thinkers today will afford generations yet unborn to happily look back someday and thank God that they had forbearers who took decisions that eventually resulted in a better and meaningful society with a lot of prospects.
The Wa Central constituency belongs to all of us. Let us do what is right by rallying behind a man of the people with all the leadership trimmings to transform our society and lives.
Explicitly, I cannot assign all the reasons that prevented Mr. Mornah from contesting the seat in the 2008 parliamentary election but I am quite convinced that the dynamics raised in this piece played a lead role.
It is unpardonable to keep on compromising with our progression as a people by always resorting to tendencies which doesn’t create a lee way for the right leadership to effectively represent and transform our society.
Against this backdrop, let’s join forces in re-orienting ourselves and encouraging the right people to represent us.
Come December 2012 should Mr. Bernard Mornah decide to contest, it would be worth our while to eschew these very tendencies that have seen us in our present regrettable state and give him our maximum support because he is indeed a more viable option. God bless us