Banners hang high. Billboards stand big and imposing, others small but communicative. Campaigning is ongoing: visible and door-to-door strategies, but the one to win the enviable Cape Coast Constituency seat still remains an enigma to be solved by the parliamentary elections this December.
The game is hot in the Cape Coast North Constituency in the Central Region.
There is the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) Mrs Barbara Asher Ayisi, Kobby Acheampong of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Progressive People’s Party’s (PPP’s) Sarah Bucknor.
The then Cape Coast Constituency seat (now divided into the Cape Coast North and Cape Coast South) could be described as a stronghold of the opposition NPP.
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The 1996 parliamentary election in Cape Coast was a straight fight between the NPP’s Christine Churcher and the NDC’s Samuel Valis Akyianu.
In the end, Christine Churcher polled 30,496 of the votes, representing 54 per cent, leaving Valis Akyianu with 46 per cent of the votes cast which began a three-term grip of the NPP on the seat.
The 2000 parliamentary election saw an even firmer grip on the seat by the NPP’s Christine Churcher.
She won the seat with 31,573, representing 55.7 per cent, this time against NDC’s renowned lawyer Ebo Barton-Odro who polled 23,550 votes, representing 41.6 per cent of the votes.
The rest of the votes were shared among the Convention People's Party’s Araba Bentsi-Enchill who had 846 votes, representing 1.5 per cent, the People's National Convention’s Macdonald Kobbs Tong who polled 374 votes, representing 0.7 per cent, and the National Reform Party’s Kweku Orleans-Lindsay who had 309 votes representing 0.5 per cent.
Again in 2004, Madam Churcher repeated her winning exploits with 36,264, but this time NDC’s Barton Odro bridged the percentage difference. He polled 31,538 votes, representing 44.5 per cent.
Araba Bentsi-Enchill of the CPP polled 2,497, while Macdonald Kobbs Tongo of the PNC had 567.
In 2008, Cape Coast decided that Lawyer Ebo Barton Odro deserved a turn and so Lawyer Odro won the parliamentary seat, beating NPP’s Amponsah Dadzie.
The constituency was divided into Cape Coast North and South for the 2012 general election.
Barton Odro represented the Cape Coast North and won.
The University of Cape Coast is a traditional stronghold of the NPP in Cape Coast.
This area is in the Cape Coast North Constituency.
Duakor, an Ewe community which is known for voting en bloc for the NDC, is also in the Cape Coast North Constituency.
As to who wins the constituency seat will depend on how voters see the personalities of the candidates, how the candidates are able to invade the other’s stronghold and effective campaign strategies.
Barbara Asher Ayisi
Mrs Asher Ayisi is a known Cape Coaster who has worked virtually all her life in the constituency.
Mrs Ayisi says her greatest strength is her human relations. “I respect people and I am very concerned about the well-being of others and I believe that is what people expect in the person who represents them. We are working hard and it’s a win,” she said.
Mrs Ayisi has been a polling station agent, an assistant constituency secretary and a government appointee to the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly in her political career.
“All these have helped me to groom my leadership style,” she said.
What is on ground?
“So far, so good,” she says. She indicated that she had begun visiting communities in her constituency to introduce herself officially to the people and added that she was working together with some private institutions to get some of the youth into training institutions that would help equip them with employable skills.
She said she was also working to get more of the youth into agriculture.
Mrs Ayisi also expressed concern over the inability of the youth in the area to access schools in the metropolis and stated that she would work to ensure that indigenes would get access to schools in Cape Coast.
Mrs Ayisi also said she was committed to helping young women in particular to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Mrs Sarah Bucknor, at the launch of her campaign, promised to enhance learning and job opportunities for all, particularly the youth in the constituency.
She said she would set up libraries and reading rooms organise special classes and computer studies for students to enhance educational standards in the constituency.
She stated that even though the party was not in power, its leader had empowered a lot of the youth with employable skills and worked hard to create numerous employment opportunities. She added that “this is even a clear indication that we are capable of creating more jobs for the youth”.
But her campaign has not achieved the expected impact, and with the disqualification of the PPP’s flag bearer, Mrs Bucknor certainly has a few hurdles to clear, if she is to make a meaningful impact on the election.
The NDC’s Kobby Akyeampong’s main goal in his campaign has been to establish that he is a Cape Coaster. He is known in national politics rather than in Cape Coast politics.
Over the months, he has worked well on it. His posters and billboards go far into the interior of the constituency to the farming communities towards Twifo Praso.
He stated in an interview that he was committed to improving education, health delivery and other social interventions in the constituency.
Old and unemployed
His concentration will be to provide support for the old and unemployed to ensure they benefit from the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP).
Again, he said he would help get Community Health Improvement Programme (CHPS) compounds in communities in the constituency to improve access to health.
On education, he said he would work on attracting one of the community senior high schools to the constituency to increase access to education.
He noted that the issue of unemployment in the constituency was very worrying.
"I understand the problems in this constituency and staying in Accra gives me an advantage to work with the major players in politics to change the situation for the better. I think staying in Accra is a plus for me, not a minus. In any case, I will stay in Accra when I am elected as MP," he said.
Residents in the constituency say they would vote for the one who can change their lives for the better.
"I am voting for the one who will better my life. But my vote is my secret.”