The Bolgatanga Central Constituency in the Upper East Region is one of the key constituencies to watch in the 2016 general election owing to the unpredictable nature of the voter population of over 47,000 in the previous elections.
For one thing, since the country's adoption of constitutional rule in 1992, the seat has been occupied by two parties, namely the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the People's National Convention (PNC). The NDC has won all the parliamentary seats except in the years 2000 and 2004 which were won by the PNC's parliamentary candidate, David Apasera.
Some key watchers of the constituency say it is a safe seat for the NDC. However, other political pundits think a cursory look at the voting pattern over the years has shown that the seat is likely to rotate among the NDC, the PNC and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Although the NPP has not yet won the seat, the party has always garnered significant votes, taking either the second or third position in almost all the parliamentary elections held. Furthermore, this time around, the NPP is determined to capture at least seven seats in the region for the party in the 2016 polls as a way of honouring their late Upper East Regional Chairman, Mr Adams Mahama, who died of an acid attack in May 2015.
So far the NPP has only one seat, Nabdam Constituency, in the region and therefore leaving no stone unturned to change their electoral fortunes in the region come the December 7 polls.
The PNC Regional Executive have also targeted to capture four seats including the Bolgatanga Central seat and so they are throwing their weight behind their candidates. The PNC also has only one seat, Builsa South. In all, the NDC has 13 seats in the region.
Other political parties that fielded candidates in the previous elections included the Progressive People's Party (PPP), the National Convention Party (NCP), the National Reform Party (NRP), the Convention People's Party (CPP), the United Ghana Movement (UGM), the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) and the Democratic People's Party (DPP). But the PPP, NCP, NRP, CPP, UGM, DFP, DPP and those who stood as independent candidates have never posed any threat to the electoral fortunes of the NDC, the PNC and the NPP.
In the 2012 general election for instance, the NDC's Mr Akolbire Emmanuel Opam-Brown had 28,144 votes, representing 59.14 per cent, the NPP’s Mr Adombire Agambila got 13,464 votes, representing 28.29 per cent, the PPP's Mr Robert Anamolga polled 3,523 votes, translating into 7.40 per cent, the PNC's Rockson Akugre, had 2,260 votes, which represented 4.75 per cent, and the NDP's Mr Saeed Jafar Mohammed garnered 201 votes, representing 0.42 per cent.
In the 2008 polls, the NDC's Akolbire Emmanuel Opam-Brown got 57.7 per cent, while the NPP's Madam Mercy Alima Musah had 10,063 votes, translating into 20.2 per cent. The PNC's David Apasera followed closely as he polled 10,009 votes, which is 20.1 per cent, and the CPP's Madam Evelyn Lamisi Anabila polled 640 votes, representing 1.3 per cent. The DFP and DPP candidates, Messrs Anyema Robert Abiiro and Awuni Atiah Solomon, polled 229 and 97 votes, representing 0.5 and 0.2 per cent respectively.
Currently none of the parliamentary candidates is prepared to take the electorate in Bolgatanga Central for granted.
Political pundits believe any of the aspirants who would want to grab the seat must be one who is in constant touch with the people, is development-oriented and would avoid playing the ethnicity card because some have played that card and still lost the elections. The electorate are very quick to change their minds if any of the parties, particularly the NDC, the NPP and the PNC, could field candidates with mass appeal and have the capability of meeting the aspirations of the people.
It would, therefore, be a battle between the NDC's Mr Isaac Adongo, a Financial Consultant in charge of the World Bank-funded Ghana Social Opportunities Project at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the NPP's Mr Rex Asanga, a development worker. Mr Adongo has been in constant touch with the people at the grass roots for the past 15 years and quite apart from that he had been instrumental in addressing some of the challenges facing the people in the sectors of health, education and agriculture.
Mr Asanga on the other hand is also a strong contender because he has set up a local non-governmental organisation called the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development which has employed a good number of the youth in the constituency and has been facilitating development projects in the area.
Apart from feeding poor people on a daily basis, Mr Asanga was able to liaise with some partners in Holland to build small affordable houses for the poor who were made homeless following the floods in 2007.
The PNC is also fielding a candidate who is development-oriented. He is Thomas Akurugu, a 42-year-old Chartered Accountant and development worker who has worked extensively with international non-governmental organisations for the past 15 years. He is an expert in mobilising resources for development purposes.
Looking at the background of these three aspirants from the NDC, the NPP and the PNC, it seems they have almost the same background but pundits believe what would do the trick is how best they are marketed and to what extent the candidates themselves are in constant touch with the people.
Not much has been heard in the constituency about the other parties' candidates but key watchers of the constituency believe that any candidate from the other parties would have an arduous task of dislodging the NDC and the NPP candidates who are said to be formidable at the grass roots.
The question now is would it be the NPP, the NDC or the PNC because certainly, the electorate in this constituency know exactly what they want and they would go for it!! The unpredictable nature of the electorate in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency would therefore be brought to bear on the 2016 general election.