The division within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency has hit a top point as election watchers say the prospect of the parliamentary seat slipping back to the People’s National Convention (PNC) in the 2016 polls cannot be ruled out.
The conclusion comes after scores of NDC supporters, who have a strong dislike for their own parliamentary nominee, Isaac Adongo, abandoned NDC’s campaign launch Sunday for a similar event held the same day in the same constituency by PNC’s parliamentary candidate, Thomas Akurugu.
The ‘Umbrella supporters’ intermingled so smoothly with the ‘Coconut enthusiasts’ at the crowded venue that an overjoyed National Chairman of the PNC, Bernard Mornah, confidently told the crowd that the PNC had become the party to beat in the constituency on December 7.
“We are demonstrating that Thomas Akurugu can work with anybody that becomes the president of Ghana. He is a man who has demonstrated capacity irrespective of opposition. If you are in the NDC, your candidate is Thomas Akurugu. If you are in the NPP, your candidate is Thomas Akurugu. If you are in the PNC, you have no other candidate than Thomas Akurugu. In the unlikely situation that Nana Akufo-Addo becomes president of Ghana, Thomas Akurugu will work with him to bring development to the Bolga Central Constituency.
“In the unlikely situation that John Mahama becomes president of Ghana, Thomas Akurugu can work with him to bring development to the Bolga Central Constituency. And of course, when Dr. Mahama becomes president of Ghana, it is like Thomas Akurugu using a breadknife to cut through [margarine]. Thomas Akurugu is coming like Kakai,” Mr. Mornah told the crowd at Bolga-Sherigu, an NDC stronghold, as both PNC and NDC supporters cheered aloud and passionately filmed proceedings with mobile phones everywhere.
At that point, he directed the handlers of the sound machines at the ground to hit the air with dancehall artiste Shatta Wale’s hit song Kakai.
The request sparked a sudden rapture as supporters from both the PNC and the NDC leapt from everywhere into the centre of the rally ground in an unusual spectacle that got Mr. Mornah, the party’s General Secretary, Atik Mohammed, as well as constituency and regional executives wriggling to the song for about 60 seconds.
Late in 2015, NDC’s Isaac Adongo crushed the sitting Member of Parliament, Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown, and renowned lawyer, Abraham Amaliba, at a primary preceded and trailed by open accusations from the loyalists of his defeated contenders that he rode on the triple wings of intemperate language, intolerance and violence to claim the ticket – allegations the candidate has consistently brushed aside as false.
Even after the NDC executives at the national level had intervened when disgruntled supporters swore in public to vote against the candidate in December, it appears not much has changed and it looks too late with barely 40 days to the polls.
The PNC supporters came to the launching ground not clear in their minds about the fate of their presidential candidate, Dr. Edward Mahama, who was disqualified alongside 12 other flagbearers by the Electoral Commission (EC) due to some faults in their nomination forms.
But addressing the crowd, the party’s General Secretary, Atik Mohammed, said the disqualification of Dr. Mahama was a conspiracy borne out of fear among opponents who saw what he called the renewed PNC as a threat to their chances in December.
“They have realised the renewed PNC and they are telling themselves, ‘if we allow the PNC to participate in this year’s elections, the outcomes might not be favourable. So, what do we do? Let’s conspire to weaken them’. But I’m telling you today and now that the PNC shall never fall for their conspiracy. The PNC shall be stronger and stronger.
“I am telling you that our presidential candidate shall find himself not only on the ballot [paper] but also on December 7, when you are voting, you will not be only voting for Dr. Edward Mahama as president but also Thomas Akurugu as your Member of Parliament. Let’s not despair; challenges are bound to come the way of all political parties. We are having our fair share of challenges. But the reason why we are here today is to tell you the PNC shall be back on the ballot,” the General Secretary affirmed, attracting wild acclamation from the multitude.
He added: “People are going about promising you one dam, one village; one wife, one man. Let me tell you – and you must tell yourselves this – that the Thomas Akurugu Project is one polling station, one hundred votes. We must not fail ourselves. We have a responsibility to ourselves to make sure that we get the right person in place so that he can help create jobs for us, he can help invest in our education, he can improve our healthcare. We all deserve better. The present MP has failed. Whoever is replacing him (in the NDC) is even going to be worse. We deserve better.”
Thomas Akurugu, a contender tipped by analysts to be the biggest beneficiary of the division in the NDC as a significant number of the dissatisfied NDC members say they will not dash their votes to Rex Asanga of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), appeared so impressed by the crowd size that he ran out of words to describe his joy.
He indicated that he had expected a big crowd but not the overwhelming turnout he saw at last.
“I’m so happy. The crowd I have seen here today tells me to go and prepare to be in Parliament. The crowd has spoken. I will work with whoever becomes the president of this country. You have spoken and I endorse it for myself and for all the executives and supporters of PNC. Please, as you go campaigning for our victory, preach peace, preach peace, we want peace,” the candidate, whose team is hardly known for disturbances, told the gathering, emphasising the last words of his speech.
PNC’s performances in Bolgatanga
The PNC captured the Bolgatanga seat in 2000 and 2004 under similar circumstances of unresolved internal strife in the NDC.
David Apasera, representing the PNC, occupied the seat until the NDC patched up its in-house cracks in 2008.
The NDC’s Emmanuel Akolbire Opam-Brown in 2008 (before the Bolgatanga Constituency was divided into the Central and the East) won the seat with 28,656 (57.7%) votes.
David Apasera attracted 10,009 (20.1%) votes with CPP’s Evelyn Lamisi Anabila polling 640 (1.3%) ballots.
Mercy Alima Musah of the NPP got 10,063 (20.2%) votes. Anyema Robert Abiiro of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) gathered 229 (0.5%) and Solomon Atiah Awuni of the Democratic People’s Party polled 97 (0.20%) votes.