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Opinions of Saturday, 21 July 2018

Columnist: Faisal Abdul Nasir Abdul Swamad

The race for NPP Parliamentary candidacy in Yendi - Who does the seat fit?

It was precisely upon the birth of democratic governance in Ghana that elections into political offices also took centre stage in our daily activities. Usually, two or more candidates stand in tandem with the requirements of the constitution to be examined by the adult suffrage.

It is the expectation that the issues that are assessed of the candidates are based on matters that border on the development of a local area or the country at large. Under this ideal assumption, it means that a candidate who can package his or her ideas in a way very convincing and rich enough to be able to address the needs of the people will more likely get the opportunity.

But, some other times, the assessment is not based on immediate issues. Instead our judgements are fashioned with political fabrics strong enough not even to be broken by the visions of those who are capable but belong to different political parties—however, this happens in inter-party elections.

For intra-party elections, candidates of the same political colour contest their ideas in an attempt to convince the people to give them the uncommon opportunity to lead. A good example of intra-party election is the keen contest for parliamentary candidacy. It is in this regard that sooner than later, the NPP in the various constituencies in Ghana will be holding their parliamentary primaries to elect best candidates to occupy the seat of the MP.

Unlike in a general election, issues that are considered during the local elections turn to be vast and more sophisticated, hence requiring in-depth knowledge and understanding of the local pollical dynamics. Because issues at the local level can change without any notice, their prediction requires an institution of knowledge in that discipline.

The Yendi constituency in the northern region of Ghana, without doubt, is one of the oldest and very urbane constituencies in Ghana. Hence, one cannot be wrong by expecting that the constituency needs to be vibrating insofar as its representation in the house of parliament is concerned. But as to whether it is doing what is expected of it, I will leave that to your own assessment!

Records from previous elections show that the seat of Yendi has always been won on the ticket of the NPP, except for the 1st and the 5th parliaments (i.e. 1992/96 and 2008/12 respectively). In the 1st parliament, the NPP led by Prof Albert Adu Boahen boycotted the parliamentary elections and thus had no seats in parliament.

In the 5th parliament, somehow, it happened that all the stars of the NDC candidate shined brightly. So, he won, although the antecedents that led to this are very clear.

As far as I am concerned by age and experiences, there are several underlying reasons that can be accounted for the unwavering support for the NPP in the Yendi constituency—that is not the focus of this article yet!

The thrust of this article is to assess who the NPP Parliamentary Candidacy fits for the 2020 parliamentary elections in Yendi as they relate to what each candidate should argue for victory. This time around, three identifiable candidates are working tirelessly to win the hearts of NPP delegates in the Yendi constituency. For that matter, it is not surprising that the delegates numbering about 605 well-informed persons are divided among the three assiduous candidates forming what can best be described as camps but including non-delegates supporters of each candidate.

While what uniquely identifies each camp is not very clear yet, each camp has attributed one or more catchphrases to itself for easy marketing of their candidates—with the most popular ones being: the UNIFIER, the HOME BOY, among others.

As the adult suffrage of the Yendi constituency, it is important for us to run some assessment of the commitment, ability, experience, understanding of the issues that concern our constituency, as well as the character and the integrity of the aspirants so that we can make close to reasonable choices of who becomes NPP Parliamentary Candidate (PC) for the 2020 elections.

Let’s begin with Mrs Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah, the only female contender as yet. Hajia Abibata was born in Yendi to the late Alhaji Shanni Mahama, a former MP for the Yendi constituency and a deputy minister of Agric in the government of his excellency K. A. Busia. Hajia Abibata holds a first degree in Psychology from the premier university of Ghana.

By dint of hard work, she proceeded to the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University in the city of New York, where she was awarded her second degree in Public Policy Administration specialising in Economic and Political Development.

She is a specialist in Project Management, Public Management and Institutional Analysis, Public Sector Budgeting, Politics of Policy Making, among others. Hajia Abibata also has extensive work experience with both local and international organisations, including the UNDP, the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), Ghana, the Millennium City Initiative and the Merchant Bank of Ghana.

Meanwhile, she is an active board member of many agencies and has travelled widely across the globe. She is currently the deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) at the office of the president of Ghana.

In the political front, Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah is described as a woman, a sister, a mother, a daughter and a women’s activist with energy. Her visible supporters have thus far marketed her as the woman with integrity, good character and work ethics.

In sum, she goes by the catchphrase, the UNIFIER in the political landscape of Yendi. Her experience and exposure to the world of development is incomparable. She takes her political vision from the legacy of her father. One major issue that keeps attracting people to her vision is the social capital and political network she possesses relative to others.

Her marketing strategies put out so far are completely based on the issues of constituency concerns devoid of disparaging languages, such as who is richer or more rooted home than the other. In summary, she has already painted an image of a good leader in the minds of the people of Yendi with outline of her political strategies flooding the landscape of social media.

However, her major weakness is that, her opponents think that Yendi must be bigger than she is because of her natural creation as a woman. Some see this as a natural discrimination against women’s capabilities while the vast majority also seek to find answers to whether Yendi is bigger than the whole of Britain led by Terresa May or Germany led by Angela Merkel or Liberia when it was led by Ellen Sirleaf? My judgment is to leave this to the unbiased adult suffrage to determine.

As for leaving Yendi at the J.H.S level to further her education in other towns, the general view is that this argument is unfounded as some of the candidates did not attend any level of schooling in Yendi at all.

The next contender is a fine gentleman of unquestionable character, and perhaps, with some experience and knowledge of local development. He goes by the catchphrase the HOME BOY suggesting his much-touted attachment to the home. Professionally, Mr Baba Daney is a chartered accountant and a chartered forensic auditor.

He holds a Higher National Diploma in Accountancy and Diploma in Business Studies all from the Tamale Polytechnic. He also holds his first and second degrees in Commerce from the University of Cape Coast and the University for Development Studies respectively, but also Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice from the Paris School of Management. Mr Daney, by his academic accolades is a member of many professional institutions one of which is the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana.

In the political front, and to the many of us who do not know him very well, his supporters market him, albeit as the one who is more rooted at home than the rest. He may not be that timid, however, sitting from far and reading what has been said about him thus far, one is tempted to think that he is not a leadership material as far as some fundamental qualities of a leader are concerned.

For instance, unlike the previously discussed candidate, we have not heard Mr Daney or his supporters talk about the political history in his household, and we are also not aware of the concrete strategies he and his team are intending to roll out in attempt to address the very many developmental challenges in the Yendi Constituency—maybe, this is conscious, yet we need to know!

Beyond the supporting team, his major weakness is that, a clear majority of the people are of the view that Mr Daney is using his home attachment to camouflage the people into voting him so that in the end he takes the opportunity to move away from them. In other words, they think his attachment to the home is only to score political points.

What the constituents instead want to see in him is to demonstrate his abilities, if he so does have, to lead the constituency towards addressing the problems militating against its development and try to cut back the nuisances in perpetrating his mantra of homeness.

The last in the cohort of the contenders is yet another fine gentleman by name Mr Alhajj Farouk Aliu Mahama, the son of the late former vice president of Ghana during his excellency J. A. Kufuor led NPP government of (2001-2009), Alhajj Aliu Mahama. Alhajj Farouk Aliu Mahama holds his first degree in Marketing from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and a second degree in Supply Chain Management from the Coventry University in England.

He is currently the Deputy Procurement Manager at the Ghana Cocoa Board, which he attained by dint of accumulated experiences. He is a person whose father undeniably contributed his very best to the development of Ghana, although there are some who argue that there are no traces of evidence that the father’s contributions influenced specifically the development of Yendi—perhaps, it is not being marketed so very well yet! Alhajj Farouk’s working experiences and connections at the national level, however, remain indisputable.

To his credit, Alhajj Farouk holds academic honours in procurement integrity from the Scottish Qualification Authority and honours in contract management from the Ghana supply commission (now Ghana Supply Company Limited).

In the political front, while his team with the catchphrase the Aliu Mahama Legacy is focused, instead, they focus on financial disbursement to the few fortunate ones in the constituency. Like Mr. Daney, Mr. Mahama too and his team do not appear to be projecting what their developmental priorities are for the people of the Yendi constituency.

The voices sweeping into my ears from the fast and farther travelling winds seem to be arguing that, perhaps, Mr. Mahama’s vision is not that which thinks of development, but that which seeks for personal popularity and fame if he wins the mandate of the delegates. After all, he is the son of the former vice president of Ghana, so, there is so much talk about who his father was than what he himself can do to bring development to Yendi.

Outside the supporting team, his major weakness so far sweeping the streets of Yendi is the commonly held opinion by those close to him that he is a Misanthrope and quick-tempered. Hence, many are worried about these traits of his in view of his desire to lead a large population with varying human characters.

Yet, again, his political messages are not focused on what he can do as a person distinct from this father but rather so very much hinged on his father’s history. While all these may be mere allegations, they are left to be judged by the masses.

Dear reader, as a matter of fact and priority, in this 21st century, the contest for the seat of the Yendi constituency must not be taken for granted. Therefore, the talk about who is more attached to the home or who is the strongest financially prior to the election should be the last things we should be discussing in our political fora or media communications.

Of course, if being financially strong cannot be backed by practical and relevant developmental strategies, where will its purpose lie in shaping the destinies of the people of Yendi? Or if being more attached to the home presently does not reflect in the knowledge and understanding of the very fundamental challenges of the people, how sincere is that attachment?

If we were to interpret succinctly, the information making the rounds that some of the candidates are using monies to buy votes through unapproved means, and that they will no longer regard the problems of the people if they win the primaries, then should we not be worried about the future of Yendi if those candidates get their way through? Or should we also take it for granted that the so-called home attachment as articulated by some of the candidates is used as a calling card, and that if they win the primaries they will get enough time to stay away from the people for their personal gains outside the Yendi constituency?

This article did not intend to make one contender stand unique or taller than the others. The aim is to give some form of education about what we should be looking out for in all those who are aspiring to be our leaders on the ticket of our great party, the NPP. It is also intended to reform the character slandering messages pollinating between and among the candidates.

In conclusion, if we were to sincerely search for the best candidate for the highest political position of the Yendi constituency, it should be easy for us to conclude that the seat only fits the contender who has the development of the constituency at heart with well-articulated policy pathway and strategies that fit our circumstances as people in a constituency that need some paradigm shift in tackling our development needs.