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18.04.2007 NPP News

NPP BIG SHARKS TARGET NDC SEATS

By chronicle

...Four grapple for Ayariga's seat, but Mustapha avoids Haruna
...Gambila, Awuni, Thomas Broni scramble for others

The strategic scheme of the ruling party aimed at capturing additional parliamentary seats from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has seen some notable figures registering their readiness to battle for the opposition seats.

Nominations ended yesterday and Prominent among those who got their names on the list of nominees are former and current Ministers as well as District Chief Executives (DCEs). Seats being occupied by the most vociferous opposition legislators are clearly the priority seats of the ruling party, though nominations were opened for parliamentary aspirants for all seats that were lost to the NDC in the 2004 elections.

The contest for the parliamentary candidacy of the party has led to the eruption of tension within the party in some constituencies, mainly as a result of the desire of DCEs in such constituencies to become legislators by 2009 and thus rubbing shoulders with local party chiefs or their favourites for the parliamentary candidacy. Hawa's base and Ayariga's seat

The departure of Madam Hawa Yakubu, the Iron Lady would definitely change the political chemistry in the Bawku Central Constituency, currently being controlled comfortably by the young and influential Mahama Ayariga.

Ayariga's biggest threat would have been the Iron Lady, who though would definitely not have contested for the seat in 2008, would have played significant role in the campaigning to blight the chances of the 33-year-old Harvard-trained Ayariga and possibly turn the scales in favour of the NPP.

Four persons have so far filed to contest for the NPP ticket in the constituency. They are the Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Alhaji Awudu Yirimeah; Mohammed Tahiru Nambe, a popular NPP man in town; Gabriel Asana, the regional accountant of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and Adamu Dramani, who returned from London recently.

Surprisingly, Hawa's Challenger in the 2004 elections, who polled a little over 8,000 votes as an Independent candidate in that election and would have been a major threat to the incumbent, had not filed his nomination as at the time of filing this report about five hours to the close of nominations yesterday.

Ayariga is said to be miles ahead of all the NPP men who had filed, as far as Bawku politics and the parliamentary seat is concerned. Mr. Tahiru Nambe, popularly called 'MP', however told the paper that he was the only candidate who would be in a position to defeat Ayariga to secure the seat for the NPP.

When contacted yesterday on whether any of the aspiring candidates could pose a threat to his ambitions, Hon. Ayariga said he did not want to comment on the activities of the NPP for now, saying, “let them do their own thing, when they finish we can talk.”

Getting Asaga Out The Nabdam Constituency, occupied by Hon. Moses Asaga, Minority spokesperson on Energy, is clearly one of the targeted seats of the ruling party, considering the critical role of the current legislator and how he has always counted on his experience as a former Deputy Minister of Finance to punch holes in the government's annual budget statements.

Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Boniface Gambila, contested Mr. Asaga in the 2004 elections and lost. The Minister will be going for the second time to challenge the NDC strong man but that will only happen if he (the Minister) is able to defeat Mr. Peter Kparib a forester based in the Brong Ahafo regional capital, Sunyani, in the party's parliamentary primaries to be held possibly next month.

In the 2004 parliamentary primaries of the NPP, the Minister, who was then Head of the National Service Secretariat, defeated Mr. Kparib to contest against Asaga.

Asaga, obviously felt threatened at the time because of the fast gaining popularity of Gambila at the time and got his chances boosted with the presence of the charismatic former president and founder of his party, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, days ahead of the polls.

This time, political sources and analysts in the region say the Minister can pull a surprise to beat Asaga, though the latter still commands a huge following there.

Mr. Gambila said he was sure of victory in 2008 saying, “the people always vote the wrong way because I am the right person to represent them” adding that “but this time, the positive change is everywhere and they would definitely vote the right way.”

Hon. Asaga said he would not comment on the issue of the NPP primaries and whether the Minister's candidature would be a threat to him or not. He noted briefly that contesting against the Minister was not a new thing since he defeated him in the 2000 and 2004 parliamentary elections. Deputy Minority Whip to be whipped?

Another influential opposition member from the NDC-dominated Upper East Region is Mr. John Akologo Tia, occupant of the Talensi Seat. According to analysts, the soft-spoken but vociferous deputy Minority Chief whip, who is a trained-journalist, would not be facing any strong competition irrespective of who is elected by the NPP. He controls and commands the respect and support of the masses in the town and may only be disadvantaged by claims that he had had enough and ought to give the seat to someone else, after having spent over 12 years in the Legislative Assembly.

Nonetheless, the NPP would be presenting a formidable challenge. The party is likely to be represented by Mr. Sebastian Bisnab, the DCE or Madam Mary Adukuma, mother-in-law of soccer Maestro, Abedi Ayew Pele. The “NPP would require magic to be able to capture that seat from Mr. Tia,” a notable figure in Upper East politics said.

President's man seeks to oust Albert Abongo Press Secretary to the president Mr. Andrews Awuni has made it known that he would try for the second time to seek the mandate of the people of Bongo Constituency to represent them in the 2009 Parliament. Mr. Awuni would be required to beat the current MP of the area, who is the only legislator with a name that rhymes perfectly with the name of his constituency. He is Mr. Albert Abongo of Bongo.

The Press Secretary would be contesting for the party's candidature against the DCE of the area, Mr. Francis Akurugu. Indications are that the Press Secretary would have it easy over Akurugu but, certainly, not over Abongo, who is said to have entrenched his support base in the constituency over the years through what is called local politics that requires the politicians to mingle with the community members in all their endeavours and drink pito together.

Mr. Awuni contested in the 2004 elections, then as Deputy Minister of Information but he was soundly defeated by the incumbent and he would have to embark upon a lot of home going to be able to get closer to the current support enjoyed by Abongo, local sources revealed.

It's Ex-Minister and DCE but Avoka back, for Nde's seat Former Upper East Regional Minister, Mahmi Salifu and the DCE for Zebila, Mr. Abare Appiah are struggling to secure the NPP ticket to contest PNC's John Ndebugre for the Zebilla seat.

The former Minister may have the upper hand over the DCE though the current executives of the party in the constituency are perceived to be Mr. Appiah's men.

NDC's Cletus Avoka is staging a come back for that seat and is set to unseat the incumbent, who according to our sources is fast losing popularity in the area.

Mustapha Iddris avoids another Haruna humiliation Alhaji Mustapha Ali Iddris, Northern Regional Minister was the occupant of the Tamale South Seat until the young and vibrant Haruna Iddrisu handed him a sound political defeat in the 2004 elections.

This time the Minister has decided to stay away completely from the seat. While some believe his disinterest is to avoid another humiliation, others however attribute the decision of the Minister to his aspirations for consideration as a presidential running mate. But that ambition would only be fulfilled if the one he supports wins. It is not clear which presidential aspirant the Minister supports though names like Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the Foreign Minster and Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku have been linked to him.

Calls made to the Minister's cell phone for his comments or reasons for not filing to contest were not answered. Haruna, known among his contemporaries in Tamale as the 'Champion MP' said he was confident that having established himself as a good Parliamentarian with respect for his leaders and electorate, he was going to secure the mandate of the people once again.

Mr. Abu Alhassan, former constituency Chairman and Mr. Joe Kadri, former Secretary of Real Tamale Football Club are those said to have filed their nominations for the primaries.

Thomas Broni battles again for Collins Dauda's seat Former Deputy Interior Minister, Mr. Thomas Broni and four others have filed to contest for the NPP ticket to stage a battle with NDC's Brong Ahafo pillar, Alhaji Collins Dauda for the Asutifi South seat.

Thomas Broni, whose amorous affair with a married woman at the time he was a Deputy Minister courted negative publicity for him, has Messrs Boakye Boateng Junior, Dwomoh Mensa, Thomas Nsenkyire, who is the Presiding Member of the Asutifi District Assembly and Madam Yvonne Kwarteng to contend with internally, before qualifying for the battle for the real MP title against Collins Dauda.

But even before the primaries would be conducted to elect a party candidate, the local NPP has been thrown into confusion over allegations of bribery and attempts by the constituency executives to handpick and impose one of the aspirants on the party as the parliamentary candidate.

The DCE for the area, Mr. Opoku Peprah, confirmed to The Chronicle yesterday that, the 10-member constituency executive of the party has been trying to convince the other aspirants to agree for one of them to be picked as the candidate.

Though the DCE could not tell the paper who the preferred candidate of the executive was, The Chronicle has gathered that Mr. Mensah is the one who is to be the beneficiary of the imposition ploy.

Another issue being contested by some aggrieved polling station chairmen in the area, apart from their agitations against the imposition is what they consider as a ploy to place the Presiding Member at a disadvantage in the entire race.

Polling Station Chairmen in Hwidiem have since fired a petition to the party's local leadership protesting against the moves to impose a candidate on them, raising the allegations of one aspirant having bribed some top men in the party to secure their support.

They referred to the party's constitution to remind the leadership that they had the mandate to decide who becomes the party's parliamentary candidate and warned that the party risks losing the seat again to the NDC if a candidate was imposed on them.

Alhaji Collins Dauda told the paper yesterday that he had already gotten the confidence of majority of the electorate in the area and was therefore ready for any candidate from the NPP. In the 2004 elections, Thomas Broni, was handed a miserable defeat though the seat was occupied by the NPP at the time. Twumasi Appiah Vrs Titiriku?

The embattled DCE for the Sene District, Madam Cynthia Titiriku is said to be seriously bracing herself up for a contest for the seat, which is in the hands of Felix Twumasi Appiah. The Chronicle could not confirm her nomination but constituents said she had indicated her intention to contest for the seat. She is currently under pressure from sections of the youth and traditional rulers in the area, who have raised several allegations against her and subsequently say they have removed her from office and seized her official car.

Twumasi Appiah said yesterday that there was no way the NPP could win that seat. He said with what had happened in the case of the DCE, the people of the Sene District have realized that the NPP was not serving their interest and would definitely vote the NDC back to power.

The MP said he had heard that several other people were also interested in contesting for the NPP candidature and attributed the problems and revelations against the DCE to internal power struggles in the ruling party at the constituency level.

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