Live from the Woods: Winning Ayawaso West Wuogon seat? Forget it

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been in a panic mode for the better part of its campaign in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency. It sounds less confident about its chances in the Thursday by-election.

But that is normal.

What Ghanaians may not be expecting is for the social democrats to annex the seat declared vacant after the death of the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Emmanuel Boakye Agyarko in November last year.

Issue with electoral register

Already, the NDC has protested about the constituency’s electoral register, a document it alleged had been bloated. It claimed data from the Electoral Commission showed there are 87,580 voters in the constituency. But it contends the number has mysteriously shot up to 88,745, alleging an addition of over 1,165 names.

But in the mix of this allegation, the Jean Mensah-led EC has not found it worthy to react to it, with less than seventy-two hours to the poll. And just how the NDC is going into the election with this unsolved issue and hoping to unseat the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the area is complete fantasy.

The EC’s reticence on the matter hasn’t helped much but it means much. It means just two things; (a) that it is not ready to entertain petulant political parties whose stock-in-trade is whining; and (b) that it is here for serious business, an agenda some political parties are sufficiently not in for.

Delali Brempong candidacy not much deal

It is too late for the NDC but the candidacy of Delali Kwasi Brempong is unlikely to amount to much because some residents don’t take him seriously as a threat to the NPP’s candidate Lydia Seyram Alhassan.

In a profoundly literate constituency as the Ayawaso West Wuogon presently is, the NDC candidate chose to attack the personality of his opponent rather than critiquing her policy ideas. He had an opportunity to educate the electorate about the possible consequences of voting for Lydia but he missed it. An open fight with a female candidate in a constituency like that is to be avoided at all cost.

Also worrying was the campaign strategy the NDC employed in the constituency. The combined effect of the NDC candidate’s poster and his auto-play reaction to claims by his opponent, showed the social democrats went into the race with no strategy. It appeared they were just there to contest a vacant seat that holds no significance to them.

Height of political immaturity

At a time when the constituency is mourning the demise of its representative, the NDC candidate chose a white shirt over a black shirt for his posters. It showed his reluctance to join his constituents to mourn the fallen MP. This is the height of political immaturity. If he is unsuccessful, it would mean he has hung on his neck the party’s 2016 defeat.

The NPP had been on top of their game as they dictated the pace of campaign in the constituency, which the social democrats found it difficult to comprehend.

Miracle or fancy

However, elections in Africa are no fiction else I would have predicted the victory of Delali Kwasi Brempong over Lydia Seyram Alhassan, who had been politically portrayed as the widow of the late MP. But fiction, sometimes, has the power to predict the actual.

It is said that anything could happen in an election but those forces, namely economic, political and social pressures that do matter are not on trial in the present race. They have never dictated the results of constituency elections in Ghana. Never. Maybe in the future but not now and not in this present by-election.

These forces have largely influenced presidential polls in the past, where the electorate get to review the work of the incumbent president and evaluate the promises of the untested opposing candidate.

Another push for constitutional reforms

But there are some dividends inherent in by-elections or early elections I must say. As aptly predicted, the NPP government, which had for the past two years stalled construction of roads across the country, has with haste repaired some bad roads and constructed new ones in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency.

The area has been transformed overnight with street lights decorating the roads which had known nothing but darkness for several years. So much has happened barely four months after the death of the sitting MP. That is the power of election in Africa. That element of accountability has a way of transforming an ugly town in the continent into Las Vegas.

This may sound simplistic but I more than agree with the otheers who have suggested there is the need to change the present 1992 constitution to allow MP elections to be held every two years instead of the four years.

NDC not ready for 2020

But whatever be the outcome of the Thursday poll, I think the NDC would have to go back and reread the report of the Botchwey Committee. Its present national executives need more than a radio/TV talk show to express contrary views about policies of president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

They need to be schooled. They need to be taught the findings of the Committee. And this must be done immediately after it has elected its presidential candidate.

With the way it conducted its activities in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency, it is apparent the party is yet to learn any lesson from the 2016 political setback.


About Author:

Kwabena Brakopowers is a journalist, novelist, and essayist whose works focus on politics, migration, social situation, economic and environmental issues. He spends his time writing either in Accra or Monrovia, where he calls his second home. He could be reached or to read about him.

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