Dramatic increase in aspirants in VR

BY: Daily Graphic
Okudzeto Ablakwa

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of aspirants seeking to become National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary candidates in the Volta Region for the 2016 election.

The increase could be attributed to the fast evolution of the democratic process in the country.

Gone were the days when it was difficult for a person to declare that he or she was interested in a political appointment or position because such positions were determined by “an overlord” through endorsement or acclamation.

But today, that fear has subsided and as many as 95 persons, comprising 12 females and 83 males have collected forms to contest in the 26 constituencies in the Volta Region.

The threshold for the contest this time round has also widened because it has embraced a larger electoral college of adult suffrage unlike formerly when a selected few, christened as delegates, could cast their votes to elect a parliamentary candidate.

It was thus quite easy for instance, for some candidates to camp the few and easily identifiable delegates in a hotel and after dinner, convinced them to vote for them.

This time round, the indices have changed because the determinants may depend on ethnicity and support for kin with  regard to the traditional area from which an aspirant hails and his/her achievements.

It is only the Members of Parliament (MPs) for Afadjato South and Agotime-Ziope constituencies, Mr Joseph Amenowode and Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, respectively who have voluntarily stepped down in the parliamentary primaries race after  serving two terms each.

So far, majority of the aspirants have launched their campaigns and it is now clear that some incumbents could face stiff competition.

Splitting of votes

Where there are two or more aspirants from a traditional area, splitting of votes is expected and this situation could be applied to the Ketu North Constituency where Mr James Klutse Avedzi from the Afife area is contesting three others from Dzodze. They are: Dr Steven K.M. Ahiawodor, Mr Don Emmanuel Agbanyo and Mr Kwaku Treveh.

The Dzodze aspirants will obviously split the votes, while Avedzi will obtain more votes at Afife and Weta and win the votes at the end of the contest.

South Dayi

A similar situation pertains in South Dayi where the incumbent, Mr Simon Edem Asimah from Peki is contesting two others from Peki, and Mrs Bertha Asamoah-Djan from Kpalime and Mr Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor from Tongor. 

Ho-West

Perhaps, the hottest constituency in the region is Ho-West where a former Director of EOCO, Mr Biadela Mortey Akpadzi has put together arsenals to unseat the incumbent, Mr Emmanuel Bedzrah.

Although attempts were made to disqualify Mr Akpadzi from contesting, that has failed and rather gingered his confidence; his campaign team is, therefore, matching the incumbent boot for boot so anything can happen, especially when there is a widespread notion among the constituents that Mr Bedzrah has served two terms and it is time for him to quit, just like his predecessors had voluntarily done.

There are two other contestants, Mr Nukomeko Delight Koku Tettey and Mr Alexander Senyo Bediaku.

Ketu South and North Tongu seats

The contest in the Ketu South and North Tongu constituencies where Messrs Fiifi Kwetey and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa  are Members of Parliament may take a different turn after the vetting committee disqualified two aspirants, Mr Jim Yao Morti in  Ketu South and Christopher Eleblu in North Tongu.

Although the disqualification may be seen as safeguarding the image of the party with regard to some allegations made against the aspirants, it was also perceived as withdrawing the candidates to enable the incumbents to win the tickets for their respective constituencies.

In Ketu North, it is Mr Morti who poses a great threat to the incumbent, though Mr Sylvanus Amedorme, Mr Albert Zigah and Mr Famous Kuadugah are also contestants. In North Tongu, although there are other contestants such as Mr Charles Hodogbey, Mr Bennet Korbla Appleh and Mr Christian Akaho-Tay, Mr Eleblu seems to be the threat to the incumbent.

Shaky constituencies

Other shaky constituencies are Keta and Anlo where incumbents Messrs Richard Mawuli Quashigah and Mr Kofi Humado respectively, are facing challenges from three others at Keta and five others in Anlo.

Similar trends exist in the region with the indication that aspirants with the largest number of registered persons in a traditional area stand the chance of winning more votes and carrying the day.

Gender component

The Volta Region, like other regions, has had low women’s participation in politics in the past years.

The region can only boast four female Members of Parliament out of the 26 constituencies; a situation which is not encouraging. 

Though the campaign in the NDC primaries has intensified as the date draws near, little has been heard about the 12 women who have decided to rub shoulders with 83 males. The 12 women are

contesting in only eight of the constituencies.

While the male aspirants are visible and campaigning everywhere, not much has been heard about the women except for the few who are already in Parliament and want to retain their seats.

Probably, those who are silent have adopted the ‘underground’ method of campaigning and are ready to surprise their male opponents, come November 21.

The Members of Parliament for Hohoe and Kpando, Dr Bernice Adiko-Heloo (Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Innovation) and Madam Dela Sowah (Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection) respectively, are not relaxing in their bid to retain their seats as they continue to showcase their achievements since they assumed power.

Meanwhile the Volta Regional Minister and MP for Krachi West Constituency, Madam Helen Adjoa Ntoso, is having a field day since she is going unopposed.

One of the constituencies where there are many female aspirants is the Afadjato South Constituency.

The District Chief Executive (DCE), Mrs Angela Alorwu-Tay and two new faces, Augusta Kafui Takyi and Suzie Afua Adoboe, are proving tough for the three male aspirants, Eben Kay Hodo, Reuben Komla Kornu and Agbesi Nutsu. The race there is unpredictable although Madam Alorwu-Tay has an upper hand as the DCE as she has had the opportunity to make herself known to the people and has proven her worth. 

In the Buem Constituency, two women, Joyce Yaa Osei and Mercy Akromah are fiercely contesting the sitting MP, Daniel Ashiamah.

It is also obvious that it is not going to be easy for the women in areas where the incumbents are contesting, especially in the South Dayi and North Dayi constituencies.