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27.11.2008 Elections

As election campaign reaches crescendoNduom receives major backing... locals vow to topple Elembelle Mugabe

By Zam R. Samin Nkroful - Ghanaian Chronicle
As election campaign reaches crescendoNduom receives major backing... locals vow to topple Elembelle Mugabe

THREE independent candidates in the Ellembele constituency of the Western Region - Messrs Maxwell Essien, Kobwoe Yankson and Bonzo Ewereko - have pushed forward their campaign gears, stepping up their activities with the implied snubbing of Papa Kwesi Nduom, to the political fortunes of the man nicknamed 'Elembele Mugabe' by Col. Kaku Korsah, the 2004 political rival, and have now adopted him (Dr. Nduom) as their flagbearer.

The scenario points to an electoral catastrophe for the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Freddie Blay.

Reliable information gathered in the constituency, and a confirmation from their campaign messages, indicate that two of the three candidates, Messrs. Kobwoe Yankson and Bonzo Ewereko, were all coming from the camp of the Convention People's Party CPP, while Maxwell Essien was believed to be a member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Information gathered by The Chronicle in the constituency, further revealed that all the three candidates were disgruntled over the candidature of Mr. Blay, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who is seeking to represent the constituency for the fourth time.

Consequently, the three candidates are all working assiduously, with a promise to cause the speaker an embarrassing defeat in the December polls.

Interestingly, one of the candidates, Bonzo Ewereko, who has read the political barometer, has elected to adopt the presidential candidate of the CPP, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, as his presidential candidate and would campaign as an independent candidate with CPP philosophy.

All his giant billboards in the constituency bear his image and that of Dr. Nduom, and on campaign platforms, he urges the constituents to vote for him as the parliamentary candidate, and Dr. Nduom as the presidential candidate, with a promise that the duo represented the true picture, soul and spirit of Nkrumaism.

In the heat of all these campaigns, independent analysts have said that the NDC candidate, Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah, was likely to slip through in the polls, considering the votes the NDC candidate, Col. Kaku Korsah, got in the previous election, and as usual, NDC supporters in the constituency are solid and noted for one thing, unshaken in their stance.

He polled 11,322, representing 32.4% of the total votes, while the incumbent MP, Freddie Blay, polled 18,428, representing 52.7%, with an independent candidate then, Kyiamah Kaku, scoring 902 votes, representing 2.6%, with the PNC candidate, then Shaibu Chie Issaka, placing fourth with 388 votes representing 1.1%

The argument in the constituency was that since the First Deputy Speaker had been enjoying support from the camp of the NPP, and Maxwell Essien was coming from that camp, he (Maxwell Essien) was going to deny him (Blay) more votes, because he would fetch more votes from the party, considering his strength and influence within the constituency.

He had even gone to Accra, according to sources close to the NPP, to consult the party's flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo on his candidature as an independent candidate, but was advised to step down, yet he refused.

He is expected to take over the core supporters of the party, who are fed up with Mr. Blay. Since the commencement of his campaign, which has now gathered momentum, he could boast of core supporters running to over 5,000.

Meanwhile, his CPP counter-parts who could not abandon Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom as their presidential candidate, because of their CPP background and considering his contribution to the revival of the Nkrumahist front, have also called for a change of candidate in the constituency, since the double standards of Mr. Blay was not helping their cause.

Nonetheless, they have now resolved to throw their weight behind one of the independent candidates, and influence the core loyal supporters of CPP to their side. It is expected that not less than 7,000 people would shift camp to their side.

To Bonzo Ewereko, the alliance of Mr. Blay and the NPP, which he described as a betrayal to the Nkrumaist front, provided him an opportunity to demonstrate to all well-meaning Nzemas living in the constituency, that he was the only one and true candidate of the CPP, though he was contesting as an independent candidate in the constituency.

His campaign, he noted, was dwelling on the CPP membership who wanted change in the constituency, hence his decision to run as an independent candidate. On the part of Maxwell Essien, he was the first to announce his decision to contest the seat as an independent candidate, and promised to give the incumbent a run for his money during the December polls.

His decision to run was a protest at the failure of the NPP to field a candidate in the constituency, and constantly rely on Mr. Blay.

That decision led to cracks and serious division within the front of the NPP in the constituency, especially among the constituency executives.

Those who were loyal to Mr. Blay, advised him against his decision to run, and those who were in bad blood with him, encouraged him to run, and finally he took a firm decision and registered his presence on the political landscape.

Mr. Maxwell Essien, the independent candidate with overwhelming support, said he was facing issues with the communities in his campaign. “I have been always been telling them to look at our roads, consider the number of communities in this constituency that had not got electricity, and above all, I have been telling them that any of them who had given birth to a child in 1996, by now should be having a 12 year old child, so I ask them what has our MP done within the last 12 years to merit another chance,” he questioned.

One of the opinion leaders and respected elder in the constituency (name withheld) also confirmed to this reporter their resolve to oust the MP.

He explained that one Mr. P. K. K. Quarm, a teacher at the Nsein Secondary School by then, in 1996 was made to step down by the NPP for Freddie Blay, when they brought him down from Kumasi as a private lawyer.

However, due to the money the teacher spent during his campaign, Mr. Blay agreed to help underwrite part of the expenses he incurred during his campaign, before Blay could be allowed to contest the seat on the ticket of the Great Alliance, unopposed, but only if he would agree to pay the money, but that agreement, he noted, was yet to be fulfilled, as the latter won the election in 1996 without fulfilling the promise.

Mr. Albert Yankey, Constituency Organiser of the NPP, who joined the other constituency executives to campaign for the incumbent MP in previous elections, as a result of the political marriage between the CPP and the NPP, noted, when contacted on the chances of the independent candidates, particularly Mr. Maxwell A. Essien, said indeed it was bright and described his campaign as very effective.

Asked about the chances of Blay, he remarked, “He cannot win an election in this constituency again, his popularity is very weak, and his relation with the constituents is very bad,” Mr. Yankey pointed out.