The camp of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Lawra Constituency in the Upper West Region has been embroiled in grand defeat-inducing polemics following the decision by the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for the Constituency, Mr Samson Abu, to contest the December 7 election as an independent candidate.
The decision by Mr Abu to contest the seat as an independent candidate followed his defeat in the NDC primary in the constituency in which he lost narrowly to Mr Bede Ziedeng by 14 votes.
Since his defeat, there have been series of allegations from his camp against Bede Ziedeng, accusing him of manipulating the voters register to his advantage. Though Bede Ziedeng and his camp have flatly denied those accusations, all attempts by party bigwigs to reconcile the two camps have proved abortive.
When people started seeing posters of Mr Abu being posted at vantage points in Lawra at the beginning of the year, they thought it was the usual political drama associated with Ghanaian politics.
Not even an announcement on social media with the poster of the MP inviting friends to his residence in Dikpe (a suburb of Lawra) to accompany him to go and file his nomination forms at the Electoral Commission’s office to contest as MP for the Lawra Constituency would make people believe that he meant business.
But rumours and speculations gave way to reality on Thursday, September 29, at exactly 3:48 p.m when Mr Abu and his team successfully submitted his nomination forms at the Electoral Commission’s office in Lawra to enable him to contest as an independent candidate in the December election.
Faced with this regrettable and disappointing reality, the Lawra Constituency Chairman of the NDC, Lotah Joshua, threatened during the launch of Bede Ziedeng’s campaign on Saturday, October 1, to stand down from his position and resign from the party within two weeks if the party elders failed to dissuade Abu from going ahead with his plans to contest as an independent candidate.
While the spirit of topsy-turvy seems to have taken over the affairs of the NDC in the Constituency at the moment, their main contenders, the New Patriotic Party and the Convention People’s Party (CPP), appear to be enjoying a bond of unity among themselves. Their primary in 2015 saw new entrant, Joseph Dontaa Bilson, coming up against Anthony Abayifaa Karbo, NPP stalwart, and after the contest at Lawra, Anthony Karbo came out victorious. Immediately the results were declared, the two factions marched and jubilated together in Lawra as a demonstration of the unity in their party. Since that contest, Joseph Dontaa has been a pillar in the affairs of the party and he is currently in charge of mobilising votes for the party in the Babile area.
Though either of the candidates of the two political parties or Abu could win the seat, one cannot write off the CPP candidate, Mr Saeed M. Hasiru, in this contest. He might not be courting the media attention as his fellow contestants but he might have a strategy which might inure to his benefit on voting day.
Chances of the various candidates
It is very difficult to predict who will emerge winner on December 7 in the parliamentary election in Lawra. All the candidates have their support bases and the one with the best strategy will surely carry the day.
It is a win or perish situation for Mr Abu if he indeed goes ahead to contest the parliamentary election as an independent candidate. His party, the NDC, does not easily forgive its members who break away to contest parliamentary elections as independent candidates. The cases of Mr Paul Derigubaa, the independent MP for Jirapa and Alhassan Dahamani, the MP for Tamale North, are there for all to see. These two personalities broke away from the NDC and contested their respective seats as independent candidates. After emerging victorious, they supported the NDC in Parliament but that show of support was not enough for them to be forgiven as they still continue to suffer isolation and seclusion from the party. With this in mind, Mr Abu must win the seat or go into political oblivion. But he has his support base within the constituency and any political party that takes him lightly because he is an independent candidate does so at its peril.
Anthony Abayifaa Karbo
Anthony Abayifaa Karbo has the best of chance to win the seat this year on the ticket of the NPP. With so much confusion brewing in the camp of the NDC, he and his team can exploit the situation to their advantage. But before that can happen, his communication team, led by Augustine Liebo, has a lot of work to do to convince people to reject the NDC or Mr Abu and vote for the NPP. If they relax with the hope that the confusion in the NDC will automatically translate into votes for them, that could be their Achilles heel as the NDC member in the constituency are known for closing their ranks at the last minute and forging ahead as one force. In 2012, the present District Chief Executive for Lawra, Mr Paschal Dery, contested the primary and lost to Mr Abu. He threatened to go independent and actually went ahead to file his nomination, but he rescinded his decision at the last minute and supported Mr Abu to win the seat. Guided by this history, the NPP will have themselves to blame if they relax in their efforts.
“Ziedeng” in Dagaare might mean the good old days but Bede Ziedeng is surely not having the massive and invincible support that the NDC used to enjoy in the constituency in the good old days. The present lack of unity in his party is surely a huge hurdle for him to cross and the growing popularity of Abayifaa Karbo, who appears to have majority of the youth on his side, has made his work more difficult.
But he has history on his side, as the seat is traditionally an NDC seat.
Not much is known about this gentleman, but his ability to represent a party like the CPP tells a lot about his qualities and if his opponents underrate him, that could work to his advantage.