Who becomes the next Upper East Regional Minister?

BY: Sebastian Syme

Persons within the top echelons of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Upper East Region have started lobbying to replace the outgoing regional minister who is now a Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central, Mr Mark Owen Woyongo.

Mr Woyongo has indicated the end of his tenure as regional minister. In his new year message to the people of the region, he expressed the hope that the chiefs and people, civil society, non-governmental organisations, the business community in the region, the security agencies and civil and public servants as well as all other persons and groups will continue to cooperate with and give their unflinching support to whoever will succeed him as the Upper East Regional Minister, after almost four years in office and on account of his elections as MP.

Consequently, there have been intense jostling and lobbying among party members for the job. Informed sources told the Daily Graphic that some powerful lobbyists are scheming for their cronies to have the job as President John Dramani Mahama has kept his plans close to his chest.

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Given the diverse ethnic composition of the region, a number of considerations come to play before appointments such as this is made. Aside, loyalty, competence and ability to deliver, sources within the party told this reporter that the choice of individual who gets appointment into cabinet at the national level has bearing on who gets or does not get appointed as regional minister.

Party sources said in the case of the NDC, in appointment such as these, the region is demarcated into three, namely; East, Central and West. The east caters for districts such as Bawku West, Bawku Municipal, Garu-Tempane, Pusiga and Binduri.

The Central zone covers the Bolgatanga, Tongo, Bongo, Nangodi area while the West spans the Kassena-Nankana East and West and Biulsa area.

The source further said “it will interest you to know that since 1992, we in the NDC have had two persons coming from the East zone occupying the position. The same can be said of the West zone. The Central zone, he said, have produced one person so far, so naturally, the situation presently favours a candidate from the central zone to occupy the seat as regional minister.

The source mentioned the late Sherif A. Guma (1993 – 1994) as well as Mr Cletus Avoka (1995 – 1997) as persons from the east zone  who held the position as regional minister under the previous NDC administration.

 For the West zone, he mentioned Mr Godfrey Abulu (1994 – 1995), the immediate past Regional Minister, Mr Mark Woyongo.

The only persons from the central zone to have served as Regional Minister, was Mr Donald Adabire Adabere (1997 – 1998). According to the source, the mantle from the look of things now falls on a candidate from the central zone to occupy the seat just to balance the equation.

With the appointment of Mr Mahama Ayariga as minister for information designate, it rules out an appointment of a person from the east zone to the position of regional minister. Mr Woyongo also completed his tenure as regional minister so it is unlikely that a candidate will emerge from the west as regional minister. There is therefore the likely possibility that the mandate will fall on someone from the central zone.

Information stumbled on by the Daily Graphic have it that the following persons have been penciled down out of which one will be considered for the position of regional minister. They are: Mr. Atanga Donatus Akamugri, the current regional secretary of the NDC, Mrs Lucy Awuni, current acting Deputy Regional Minister, and Mr John Akologu Tia, immediate past Member of parliament for Talensi constituency.

The rest are Dr Atinga Mba, Rector of Bolgatanga Polytechnic, Dr Avea Ephraim Nsoh, Lecturer, University of Winniba, Mr Daniel Syme, a former District Chief Executive for Builsa, Mr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Mr John Alale Abugri and Mr  Francis Kambila Awindago.

For the position of Deputy Regional Minister, the proposed names as stumbled on by the Daily Graphic out of which one person is to be selected are: Mrs Lucy Awuni, Mr Edward Akolgo Adimazoya, Mr Thomas Dalu Addah, and Mr Simon Nabia. The rest are Mr Clement Akasoba Anabire, Mr Adongo Solomon Aduko, Sampson T. Cherigea, Seidu Mahamdu and Mr Ali Mumuni         

In a related development,  a youth group from Bongo has also issued a press statement appealing to the President to consider appointing a person from the Bongo district to the position of the regional minister.

The statement signed by Messrs Emmanuel Ayire, Mathias Aboba and  Mohammed Issaka, Chairman,  Secretary, and Organising Secretary respectively of the Bongo District Youth Consensus for Development (BDYCD),  said they were making the demand, taking into account the fact that “the district like all others in the region has competent people who can perform creditably well when given that office and also considering that the ruling governing party has enjoyed the full support of the people of the district since 1992. Despite this unflinching support, the party has never appointed a person from the district to that high office in the region”.

“We the youth make this request in the spirit of fairness, equity and balance in the distribution of political appointment for the unity and development of the area and political support for the party.

We the youth of Bongo wish to assure His Excellency the President and everybody in the NDC party that we are not by this request seeking to play down the critical factor of competence and other important factors that constitute the criteria for appointments of such nature but, we are seeking for fairness. Again we are not also seeking to sow seed of division. We are seeking to draw attention to a worrying gap we believe deserves to be closed.  We urge the good people of the Upper East Region to see wisdom in our request and support our call for the right thing to be done”

The ball is now in the court of the appointing authority as to who becomes the next regional minister for the Upper East Region.

By Benjamin Xornam Glover