NPP, NDC in close contest for Wenchi seat

The wenchi Constituency in the Bono Region, with 65,639 registered voters per the 2020 general election, is the home of one of the founding fathers of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition, Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, a tradition which gave birth to the New Patriotic Party (NPP). 

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Dr Busia was Ghana's Prime Minister during the Second Republic from 1969 to 1972 and was also a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Constituency during that period of Ghana's history.

Even though the constituency is a stronghold of the NPP, the seat fell to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the 2020 general election. The victory of the NDC in the area surprised the NPP and other political analysts, as the seat, one of the safest for NPP, has been a no-go area during the Fourth Republic.

Apart from the 1992 parliamentary election that the NPP boycotted after raising concerns about the presidential polls, the party has won all parliamentary elections conducted in the area, except for the 2020 general election.

Alhaji Musa Bamba of the NPP occupied the seat from 1996 to 2004, after which Professor George Yaw Gyan-Baffour took over from 2004 to 2020.

Presidential election

Though the NPP lost the parliamentary seat in 2020, the party won the presidential election as Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo garnered 25,086 votes, representing 49.55 per cent, to beat former President John Dramani Mahama of the NDC, who had 24,806 votes, representing 49.00 per cent.

Other presidential candidates, namely Christian K. Andrews of the Ghana Union Movement (GUM) had 437 votes (0.86 per cent); David A.A. Apasera of the People's National Convention (PNC), 55 votes (0.11 per cent); Independent candidate, Alfred K.A. Walker, 46 votes (0.09 per cent), and Hassan Ayariga, All People’s Congress (APC), 41 votes (0.08 per cent).

The Wenchi 28 lockable Market stores

The Wenchi 28 lockable Market stores 

The rest are Ivor K. Greenstreet, Convention People's Party (CPP), 41 votes (0.08 per cent), Percival K. Akpaloo, Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), 34 votes (0.07 per cent); Brigitte A. Dzogbenuku, Progressive People's Party (PPP), 24 votes (0.05 per cent); Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, National Democratic Party (NDP), 24 votes (0.05 per cent); Henry H. Lartey, Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), 22 votes (0.04 per cent), and Akua Donkor, Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), 7 votes (0.01 per cent).

In the 2004 general election, former President, John Agyekum Kufuor, polled 17,915 votes, representing 54.85 per cent, to win in the constituency, while the late John Evans Atta Mills obtained 13,661 votes, representing 41.83 per cent. Edward Mahama (PNC) had 605 votes (1.85 per cent), and George Aggudey (CPP) polled 481 votes, representing 1.47 per cent.

In 2008, President Akufo-Addo won with 17,649 votes, representing 54.54 per cent, while John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC obtained 14,134, representing 43.68 per cent. Edward Mahama (PNC) had 188 votes (0.58 per cent); Papa Kwesi Nduom (CPP) 155 votes (0.48 per cent); Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi (Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), 142 votes (0.44);

Independent aspirant, Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, 53 (0.16 per cent); Thomas Nuako Ward-Brew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), 23 votes (0.07 per cent), and Kwabena Adjei, Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD), 13 votes (0.04 per cent).

However, in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary election, former President Mahama won the constituency election for the first time by polling 20,404 votes, representing 50.11 per cent, while the then NPP candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had 19,692 votes, representing 48.37 per cent. Henry H. Lartey (GCPP), 228 votes (0.56 per cent); Paa Kwesi Nduom (PPP) 184 votes (0.45 per cent); Jacob Osei Yeboah, Independent candidate, 66 votes (0.16 per cent); Abu Sakara (CPP), 57 votes (0.14 per cent); Hassan Ayariga (PNC), 53 votes (0.13 per cent), and Kwasi Addai (UFP), 31 votes (0.08 per cent).

Interestingly, in the 2016 general election, President Akufo-Addo won in the constituency when his votes increased to 21,789, representing 54.65 per cent, to beat former President Mahama, whose votes dropped to 17,483, representing 43.85 per cent.

The PPP presidential candidate, Paa Kwesi Nduom, had 395 votes (0.99 per cent); Ivor K. Greenstreet (CPP), 73 votes (0.18 per cent), Edward Mahama (PNC), 72 votes (0.18 per cent), Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (NDP), 32 votes (0.08 per cent), and Jacob Osei Yeboah, Independent candidate, 23 votes (0.06 per cent).    

Parliamentary election

In the 2004 parliamentary election, Prof. Gyan-Baffuor of the NPP won with 54 per cent votes, while Alhaji Alhassan Bene of Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE) had 7,669 votes (22.70 per cent); Independent candidate, Hayford Osei Kwadwo, polled 6,668 votes (19.70 per cent), and Abdul-Latif Umar Abdullah of the CPP got 1,286 votes (3.80 per cent).

The newly constructed Wenchi High Court complex

The newly constructed Wenchi High Court complex 

Again, in the 2008 parliamentary election, Prof. Gyan-Baffuor retained the seat with 18,516 votes, representing 56.84 per cent, while Yaw Osei Agyei of the NDC, a new candidate, obtained 13,495 votes, representing 41.43 per cent; Thompson Akotia Kwaku (DFP), 284 votes (0.87 per cent), and Abdullah of CPP had 278 votes (0.85 per cent).

In the 2012 parliamentary election, Prof. Gyan-Baffuor (NPP) won again with 20,878 votes, representing 50.90 per cent, while Osei Agyei of the NDC obtained 18,660 votes, representing 45.49 per cent. Ebenezer Gyimah Koomson of the PPP got 1,228 votes, representing 2.99 per cent, and Steve Gyan Akasampah Kojo Jacob of NDP had 251 votes, representing 0.61 per cent.

Again, in the 2016 parliamentary election, NPP’s Prof. Gyan-Baffuor retained the seat with 21,127 votes, representing 52.73 per cent, while Hayford Osei Kwadwo of the NDC obtained 17,110 votes, representing 42.70 per cent; Ibrahim Musah (PPP), 1,659 votes (4.14 per cent), and Nurudeen Sufyan (CPP), 174 votes (0.43 per cent).

Surprisingly, Prof. Gyan-Baffuor (NPP) lost the seat in the 2020 general election as his 23,102 votes, representing 45.26 per cent, fellow below that of the NDC candidate, Alhaji Seidu Haruna, who garnered 26,068 votes, representing 52.97.

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Hot race

In the December 2024 parliamentary election, the battle will be between the incumbent MP, Alhaji Seidu Haruna, and Kojo Frempong of the NPP. The race is expected to be hot as Alhaji Haruna is determined to retain the seat, while Mr Frempong and the NPP are also working hard to reclaim the seat.

Alhaji Seidu Haruna — NDC Member of Parliament for the Wenchi Constituency

Alhaji Seidu Haruna — NDC Member of Parliament for the Wenchi Constituency

When the Daily Graphic visited the area recently, there were posters and giant billboards of the two candidates at some vantage points. Mr Frempong’s ambition to unseat Mr Haruna seems to be tough due to the internal issues between his supporters and fans of Albert Ameyaw, one of his close competitors during the party’s primary.

Mr Frempong secured 361 votes to beat Mr Ameyaw, who obtained 336. The outcome of that election has brought division between the supporters of the two candidates.

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Reconciliation team

However, the Wenchi Constituency Chairman of the NPP, Ali Awudu, told the Daily Graphic that the Regional Reconciliation Team had stepped in to resolve the impasse between supporters of Mr Frempong and Mr Ameyaw to help reclaim the seat.

“This division remains a huge challenge to the party; without resolution or unity it will be extremely difficult for the party to win the seat, because Mr Ameyaw equally has a huge following.

The party is working hard to reunite them to enable us win the seat back,” he said. Mr Awudu said it would be difficult for the party to recapture the seat again if they lose the December 2024 election, and therefore appealed to both factions to unite for victory.

He said despite the party’s defeat in 2020, the government had invested in the development of the area. He mentioned the ongoing 30 million Euros water project at Wenchi, Koase Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Senior High School, 300 capacity hostel project at the Al-Faruq College of Education, Wenchi High Court Complex and road projects as some of the projects executed.

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Mr Awudu said the government's performance in the area, coupled with the incumbent MP’s “non-performance" and “inactivity”, had boosted NPP’s chances.

MP's response

The MP, Alhaji Haruna, told the Daily Graphic that his hard work and achievements over the years would give him victory in the upcoming election. He said although his party was in opposition, he had worked hard and supported to improve every sector of the local economy.

Kojo Frempong — NPP Parliamentary aspirant for Wenchi Constituency

Kojo Frempong — NPP Parliamentary aspirant for Wenchi Constituency

Alhaji Haruna said he had invested in sports, water and sanitation, as well as education, through the provision of infrastructure, furniture, computers and other teaching and learning materials to several schools to improve academic performance.

He said he had so far presented financial support to 334 students to pursue tertiary education and also organised mock examination for all Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates.

On health, Alhaji Haruna said he had constructed a new block, comprising male, female and children`s wards for the Buoku Health Centre, provided equipment and accessories for some health facilities, distributed 62 wheelchairs to persons living with disability (PLWDs) and renewed over 4,000 subscribers’ National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

He said he had also given sponsorship for the training of over 4,000 people through the women empowerment programmme on bread making, assorted pastries, liquid and bar soap and other employable initiatives for the youth in the area.

Voters’ perspective

Speaking to some residents in the area, they shared varied views about the two candidates. While some said they would vote massively for Alhaji Haruna to continue with his unfinished business, others said they would vote against him, explaining that his performance for the past years had not met their expectation.

A resident at Wenchi, Isaac Akwasi, thought four years were not enough to judge the performance of the MP. He said all the NPP MPs had more than two terms and the fact that his party was in opposition made it very difficult to judge his performance.

“Notwithstanding that, I have seen him reshaping some deplorable roads linking farming communities and providing bicycles to schoolchildren to facilitate their movement to school,” he said.

Mr Akwasi explained that the MP had also provided mechanised boreholes for communities facing water crisis, something the previous administration failed to do.

Concern

Another resident, Ibrahim Musah, said the constituency had a poor road network, making travelling and transportation of farm produce difficult.

He mentioned Wenchi inner town roads, Droboso-Agubie-Badu road, Droboso-Kanaase-Ghana Nkwanta- Akrobi road, Wenchi-Nwoase-Subinso II road, and the Nchiraa-Anyima-Kintampo road as some of the bad roads in the area.

Mr Musah said the contractors, who were seen working on some of the roads, had abandoned their sites, worsening the situation. He appealed to the government to direct the contractors to go back to site to complete the roads, particularly the Wenchi inner roads, to eliminate dust and improve movement.

Demographics

Generally, the constituency has a mix of formal and informal workers such as teachers, health workers, civil and public servants, security personnel, traders and farmers, among others.

Located in the northeast part of the region, the Wenchi Municipality covers 1,296.6 square kilometres, with a 124,758 population made up of 60,960 males and 63,798 females, per the 2021 Population and Housing Census.

The Municipality, same as the Wenchi Constituency, was created as an ordinary district in 1988 as Wenchi District, with its administrative capital being Wenchi. It shares boundaries with the Sunyani Municipality to the south, Kintampo South District to the north, Tain District to the west and Techiman Municipality to the east.

It has communities such as Akrobi, Koase, Amponsakrom, Asuogya, Awisa, Awoase, Badu, Nchiraa, Nsawkaw and Tromeso. The area is known for the cultivation of cashew, maize and tubers such as yam and cassava.

The constituency hosts the Al-Faruq College of Education, Wenchi Agriculture Research Station under the supervision of the Directorate of Crop Service of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and Wenchi Farm Institute, covering about 364.5 hectares.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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