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Politics of Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Source: The Chronicle

We'll Take Back All Our Seats -NDC

The largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is desperately preparing to capture several parliamentary seats, which are currently occupied by members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
As part of the opposition party’s agenda, it is opening parliamentary nominations in all constituencies that it lost in the 2004 elections effective this Friday, June1.
The decision comes on the heels of a similar action by the ruling party, which also opened nominations at constituencies occupied by NDC legislators, earlier and closed nominations on April 17. General Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, popularly called General Mosquito, confirmed in an interview last Thursday that the decision to open nominations in those constituencies was part of preparations on the part of the party, to fulfill its vision and determination to win more parliamentary seats in the 2008 polls.
He said the party has a target of capturing more than 30 parliamentary seats from the ruling party to increase its current membership of 94 to about 130 legislators. He told the paper that, as a first step, his party was working to make sure that all Parliamentary seats in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, which are being occupied by members of other political parties, are won by the NDC in 2008.
Presently, the NDC has total dominance in the three Northern regions of the Country. It has 9 out of the 13 seats in the Upper East Region with the ruling party controlling the Navrongo central and the Builsa North seats. The Builsa North can easily fall to the NDC since the incumbent Member of parliament (MP), Agnes Chigabatia, won by a narrow margin in the last election and is said not to be doing much to consolidate her support base in the constituency even though her memorable campaign to banish women from forced marriage has given her prominence and added to her stature.
Energy Minister, Kofi Adda, can maintain his seat if only his own people would not stab him in the back for what is generally perceived to be arrogance on his part. The remaining two seats in the region are in the hands of People’s National Convention’s John Ndebugre for Zebilla and David Apasara who occupies the Bolgatanga seat. Mr. Apasara, according to reports, is stronger in terms of a possible retention of the seat but will need a magic wand to beat the NDC’s Opam Brawn in 2008. Ndebugre’s seat will most likely go to NDC’s Cletus Avoka though former Regional Minister, Mahmi Salifu may pose a threat if he gets the nod to be on the NPP’s ticket.
The ruling party has no single seat in the Upper West Region. It however has the support of the two legislators of the People’s National Convention, Messrs. Moses Dani Baah and Haruna Bayirga of the Sisila East and Sisila West Constituencies respectively.
The NDC, according to political analysts in Upper West, may have to abort its dream of annexing these seats to have a 100% control in the region since the people in these two areas are said to be so determined to maintain the area –birthplace of Dr. Hilla Liman, third Republican President- as the consolidation point of the Dr. Liman Political tradition in the country. The NDC has two of its parliamentary stalwarts, Hon. Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader and Hon. Benjamin Kunbuor, Minority spokesman on Finance, hailing from the Upper West region.
The Northern Region has a total of 26 seats and the NDC dominates with the occupation of 17 of them with the ruling party having 8 but enjoying the support of the sole Independent legislator in the 230-member legislature, Mr. Joseph Labik of Bunkprugu Yunyo. General Mosquito says in 2008, they will annex all the 8 seats in the hands of NPP MPs as well as that of Mr. Labik who was an NDC Member ahead of the 2004 polls. However NPP’s lawyer Mahama is certain of getting the nod to take over from the DCE whose links to 31 DWM is sometimes used to undermine her. Dubik Mahama is set to pose a strong challenge to the NDC’s battle plans to sweep the region.
The Yendi Seat, which has been a traditional NPP seat and currently occupied by Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Malik Alhassan Yakubu, is one that the NDC has specifically targeted. The General Secretary said regardless of who is occupying what seat and which area has been of what political tradition, his party’s determination knows no bounds and would surely capture all the seats in the region come 2008. Hon. Malik is in his third term in parliament and a recent report suggested that he may hand over the baton of the party’s parliamentary candidature to the relatively young Habib Tijani, the Yendi District Chief Executive (DCE). A group of NPP youth in the Yendi Constituency have already served notice that they would resist any attempt on the part of the Second Deputy Speaker, if he should stage a fourth term bid.
Hon. Boniface Abubakar Saddique, an NDC-turned NPP die hard man who is also the Minister of Manpower and Employment and occupies the Salaga seat; Hon. Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs and occupant of the Nalerigu seat who is one of those Northern women tipped to be capable of taking over from where Madam Hawa Yakubu left off, and Mr. Charles Bintim of Saboba who had a fine start as a young Cabinet minister in Charge of Local Government to the surprise of many but got booted out of that position by the President following allegations of some monies alleged to have been deposited in a bank account by him, are other big shots who may fall victims to the NDC plot if it should succeed.
Other NPP MPs in the Nothern Region are Doris Seidu of Chereponi, Alex Seidu Sofo of Damongo-Daboya, Wumbe Kofi Karim of Wulensi, and Rita Tani Iddi of Gushegu. The Brong Ahafo region has a total of 24 constituencies. The NPP has 14 seats while the NDC has 10. The NDC General Secretary said his party would hold the Majority of seats there after the next elections. He specifically mentioned constituencies like Nkrabea-Effah Dartey’s Berekum, Andrew Yeboah’s Tano South, Tain, Jaman East and Jaman West as some of the Constituencies in the Brong Ahafo region that the NDC shouldn’t have lost in the last election.
“We shouldn’t have lost these seats. But we lost due to lack of better organization and this time round, we are going to take over those seats convincingly,” General Mosquito said. The Ashanti Region is undoubtedly the NPP’s electoral world bank. It has 39 seats and the ruling party has 36 of them leaving the remaining three; Asawase, New Edubiase and Ejura, for the NDC. Asiedu Nketiah admits that his party cannot claim any significant seats in the region but mentioned that it intends to increase its seats to at least, six. The targeted three are Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku’s Ofinso North, Balado Manu’s Ahafo Ano-South and Ahafo Ano-North, occupied by Kwame Owusu Frimpong.
Among the three, the Ahafo Ano-North seat may be the first to be grabbed by the opposition party. The seat was in their hands until after the 2000 elections and since then, the margins have been low between the two parties. The current MP is also seen by his constituents as a beneficiary of political luck and someone who is not doing much to turn the luck into an opportunity.
He hardly talks on the floor of the house and is not doing much in terms of development in the area. Already, the DCE for the area, Nana Agyeman Prempeh, is said to be lacing his shoes to give the MP a good run for his money. Balado’s would be the toughest to take. Balado, a polyglot Basaare educationist from Tatale, has the support of his compatriots from the North who are settler farmers in the area and form about half of the Voter population if not more. Natives of the area who are Akans with majority being supporters of the NPP also give him the needed support. Besides, he is seen as a distinguished MP from a village constituency.
No specific constituencies were identified in the Eastern, Western and Central regions as being targets. On Central region, home region of the NDC presidential candidate, Professor John Evans Attah Mills, the General secretary said, “for strategic reasons, I don’t want to talk about Central Region. I can only say that, we are going to win majority of the seats there.”
Despite having its flagbearer from that region, the NDC only managed to secure two out of the 19 seats in the region during the 2004 elections. The NPP has 16 seats and has the backing of CPP’s Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, a beneficiary of President Kufuor’s all inclusive government idea who heads the all-important Public Sector Reforms Ministry.
In the Eastern Region, it is not known whether the NDC’s Deputy General Secretary, Mr. Baba Jamal and National Organizer, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, would be staging another battle for the Akwatia and the Fanteakwa seats respectively. Mr. Jamal wouldn’t comment on the matter when contacted but Mr. Ampofo could not be reached for his comments. “Oh as for Volta, we are getting back that one seat,” General Mosquito said. Mr. Joseph Kweku Nayan, former Teacher at Damanko, who is now deputizing Kofi Dzamesi as Volta Regional Minister, occupies the NPP’s sole seat in the Volta Region- Nkwanta North.
Asked whether the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), formed by renegades of the NDC led by former Chairman, Dr. Obed Asamoah, who hails from the Volta region would not hinder the successes of the NDC in the region, Asiedu Nketiah said, “I can tell you that the Volta region is the DFP’s weakest base.” When asked to explain what informed his conviction, he replied that he did not want to discuss the DFP since doing that would not help the NDC in anyway.
In the Greater Accra region, the NDC has 11 out of the 27 seats losing the remaining 16 to the NPP. Asiedu Nketiah says his party would capture seats like Ledjokuku, Krowor and I. C. Quaye’s Ayawaso Central and still battle for more. He did not however mention NDC seats that he thought ought to be worked on in other for them not to fall to the NPP. The assumption is that, the NDC will maintain all of its current seats and win more from the NPP.
The filing fee for prospective NDC parliamentary candidates is ¢10million regardless of whether the person will be contesting in Bantama or Anloga and the General Secretary said the party would adhere strictly to the guidelines for the selection of candidates.