All eyes are on the Tamale North constituency in this year’ parliamentary elections.
The question on the minds of many is whether the incumbent, Alhaji Abukari Sumani, who has served the people for the past 12 years, would be able to survive the “onslaught” by his opponents.
Apart from the fact that parts of the constituency is cosmopolitan in nature, the Sagnarigu and surrounding communities where the MP used to draw large chunk of votes from has been carved out of the Tamale North constituency. It now forms part of the newly created Sagnarigu constituency.
Some constituents have also accused the incumbent of doing little to improve on their welfare and also fast track infrastructural development such as drains and roads in the area. They further alleged that Alhaji Sumani is not approachable neither is he accessible to them.
The seven gentlemen who are challenging the incumbent for the seat have all expressed their battle readiness to wrest the constituency from the NDC candidate. They include three independent candidates; Dr Adam Gamel Nassar, Issah Ahmed and Alhassan Dahamani.
The rest are Akilu Sayibu of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Iddrisu Mashud, Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Seidu Abdulai Napodoo of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and Faiz Aouni Moutrage alias Muchacho of the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
If the disgruntlement expressed by some of the electorate to this writer is anything to go by, one could stick his neck out to say Alhaji Sumani could be beaten by either the NPP candidate or any of the independent hopefuls such as Dahamani or Dr Nassar following the past record of performances by those candidates.
Dr Nassar had previously stood on the ticket of the CPP in the 2000 and 2004 parliamentary elections while Mr Akilu is contesting the seat for the first time.
Elections in Dagbon constituencies are however influenced by several factors including chieftaincy. And since the disturbances in the traditional Dagbon town of Yendi in March 2002 that led to the death of the Overlord of the kingdom, the political dynamics in the entire area has been altered.
Even though the tone on the chieftaincy issue can be said to have reduced in this year’s electioneering campaigns, some of the candidates are still clutching on to it while some electorate have also indicated that the side a candidate belongs to in the Dagbon chieftaincy divide was still going to determine which candidate they would vote for especially in Dagomba dominated communities.
Some people have chastised the NDC of taking advantage of the unfortunate Yendi situation to perpetuate their recent dominance in the electoral fortunes in Dagon constituencies. The question is; will it influence the votes in this year’s elections? December 7 will decide.
The constituency is also populated by settlers and non Dagombas for that matter especially at suburbs such as the SSNIT Flats and Kalpohini Estates.
Since the return to democracy in 1992, the constituency has been dominated by the NDC. In the last elections, Alhaji Sumani polled 31,127 votes representing 56.6 percent while his closest contender and Independent candidate Dahamani received 11, 254 votes representing 20.5 percent.
The rest were Dr. Abdel-Majeed Haroun of the NPP who had 11,171 votes representing 20.3 percent and Abu Alhassan Nyabto who received 610 votes. The total voter population was 75,276 while the turn-out was 74 percent.
However according to Mr Akilu, the people have not benefitted from the services of Alhaji Sumani for the three terms he has represented them in parliament. He accused the NDC candidate of taking the constituents for granted.
“The time has now come for the people of Tamale North to change and I represent that change,” he assured. Mr Akilu further accused the MP of supervising the continuous existence of bad road network, lack of drains and school infrastructure.
He claimed that he had supported the constituency in various ways including education, job creation and other social services such as the repairing of the SSNT-Fuo road. “I am always accessible to the people and also offer a helping hand during difficult times such as floods.”
Mr Akilu further pledged to set-up an information centre equipped with computers and Internet services and a counselling outlet with an expert to offer guidance to the youth in the constituency when given the nod.
‘The time has now come for the people to move away from matters of triviality and rather vote for a candidate who has the wherewithal to ensure accelerated development that would reflect on their welfare,” he stated.
For his part, Dr Nassar, who is a senior lecture at the University of Ghana, explained that his decision to stand as an independent candidate stemmed from the incessant calls from the constituents.
On why the electorate should vote for him this time round, Dr Nassar said the experiences he had acquired from the past was guiding him in this year’s campaigns as he was the only candidate who understands the grievances of the people.
He said he stood tall among his colleagues in the December polls and was prepared to offer a selfless and dedicated service to them.
According to him the difficulties confronting the people in the constituency needed someone with the necessary capabilities, humility, selflessness and commitment to provide leadership to address them.
“My main objective is to help bring development to the people and to lift them up from the prevailing challenges confronting them in their everyday life,” he stated, and appealed to the electorate to entrust their confidence in him by voting massively for him to put his visions into fruition.
Instead of mounting platforms, Dr Nassar has resorted to door-to-door campaigns and group meetings which he described as more effective in reaching out to the people to understand their concerns.
“I am the best among the lot” was what another Independent candidate, Mr Dahamani, said when asked about his chances of winning the seat.
He expressed his preparedness to ensure a peaceful campaign as he promised to provide the necessary leadership to champion the course of the electorate. Mr Dahamani pledged his commitment in developing the human resource in the constituency through the provision of educational infrastructure.
Another sector he would help to tackle when voted into parliament was sanitation. “Apart from ensuring that there is constant water flow, we would also construct drains and places of convenience to serve the needs of our people.”
He explained that he failed in his bid in 2008 because the incumbent MP said because his party was then in opposition he could not do much.
“But since his party came to power his performance has grown from bad to worse and therefore does not deserve another term,” the parliamentary hopeful claimed.
He described his slogan; “No Dahmani No Vote” and “Haliya Haliya” to mean, no development, no vote and that whatever it takes to win to ensure accelerated development for the people was what he was embarking upon.
Even though the sitting MP was not readily available for his reaction, the constituency organiser of the NDC in the area, Alhaji Alhassan Nayi Ngbagawu, denied all the allegations against the MP and attributed the claims to political machinations by his opponents to outwit the electorate.
He said for the past four years, Alhaji Sumani had constructed a number of toilets, schools among other social infrastructure in communities such as “Ward K” Fuo and Choggu Yepalsi.
On the bad nature of roads in the constituency, the organiser claimed that most of it had been awarded on contract and hoped that soon work would be completed on some of them.
Alhaji Ngbagawu described the MP as hardworking and affable emphasising that, “he is very accessible and approachable man who normally interacts with the people.”
According to him, “talk is cheap and so the other competitors can deceive themselves that they would win but I can assure you that none of them will win in any polling station. Honourable Abukari Sumani would triumph over them hands down following his track record.”
Story: Zakaria Alhassan