Who Wins Atiwa By-Election?
The Atiwa Constituency in the Eastern Region is currently the hot-bed of Ghana politics.
This is because political parties, including the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NDC), Peoples’ Convention (PNC) and a political group which is little known, the New Vision Party (NVP), will be contesting for the parliamentary seat in the constituency in a by-election slated for August 31.
The seat became vacant due to the death of the occupant, Kwasi Annoh Ankama, who passed away in the middle of the year.
Currently all the four contesting parties are ready for the poll. According to Mr Paul Boateng, Eastern Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), by the close of nominations on August 10, all the contesting parties had filed the names of their candidates without any problem.
They are Mr Emmanuel Atta Twum, a Human Resource person who is also currently the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Atiwa for the NDC, Mr Kwasi Amoako Atta, a Lawyer and the present Presiding Member of the Atiwa District Assembly for the NPP, Mr Kasum Abdul Karim, a farmer, for the PNC, and Mr George Apraku Padmore, a journalist, representing the NVP.
Although no vigorous campaign has so far been mounted by any of the four parties, the NPP has already fired the salvo to re-capture the seat with the appearance of its re-elected flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at Kwabeng during the party’s recent constituency primaries to solicit support for the party.
Almost at the same time, the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, and Mr Atta Twum, the DCE, also cut the sod for the commencement of work to rehabilitate roads within Kwabeng, the district and constituency headquarters, ostensibly to also win the support of the people.
The PNC and the NVP have not yet made any move in that direction.
The campaign for the constituency is expected to be very expensive because it is vast with few good roads linking only the few big towns such as, Kwabeng, Anyinam, its commercial centre, Sekyere and Abomosu while the numerous communities, villages and hamlets are difficult to reach, especially during this rainy season, due to the bad nature of the roads.
Looking at such a situation, the contesting political parties have a herculean task of reaching out to voters most of whom live in the remote villages almost inaccessible by road except footpaths.
In reality, the odds favour the NPP considering the results of previous elections, especially that of 2008 when its parliamentary candidate the late Kwesi Annoh Ankama secured 26,423 constituting 76.43 per cent of the votes as against the NDC’s Emmanuel Atta Twum’s 7,851 (22.71 per cent) and the PNC’s Kasum Abdul Karim’s very poor showing of 296 votes (0.86 per cent).
Although Mr Amoako Atta, the NPP candidate for the by-election, is a new face in the contest, his popularity as the Presiding Member of the Assembly where he had led a crusade against political party partisanship in the House, which to him hinder the work of assembly members developing the communities had made him a leader interested in the welfare of all the people in the communities.
Such an attribute in addition to the constituency being a stronghold of the NPP has the tendency of possibly making him the winner.
Mr Amoako Atta who also surprisingly lost the NPP Atiwa Constituency primaries to the late Kwasi Annoh Ankama has also won the sympathy of the party supporters, especially the foot soldiers, who are determined to go to the various communities to solicit support for him and the party.
The NPP parliamentary candidate has also exhibited his readiness to play his part when he declared during his election as the parliamentary candidate about a fortnight ago that nothing will prevent him from winning the seat and that he will personally contribute his quota for an NPP victory.
On the other hand, the NDC realising that Atiwa had always been its achilles heel, is more determined than ever before to increase its votes and take the seat.
The election of Mr Emmanuel Atta Twum therefore seemed to be the right choice to achieve such a dream which most political pundits will brush aside, except to agree that the NDC is only going to increase its votes in the constituency to indicate its full preparedness for the 2012 polls.
However, the short period that Mr Atta Twum was appointed the DCE, the assembly had continued from where the NPP left off by providing numerous infrastructural amenities such as school buildings, roads and water and sanitation facilities.
The sod has been cut for the commencement of work on the Kwabeng town roads and this has won the hearts of many of the inhabitants.
Moreover he is contesting the seat for the second time and therefore well known to the voters, an advantage over his main opponent, Mr Amoako Atta.
Considering the chances of the other two candidates, Messrs Kasum Abdul Karim of the PNC and George Apraku Padmore of the NVP to capture the parliamentary seat, it is only a heavenly sent miracle that would make such goals possible since the PNC and the NVC are really dead in the area and will therefore not be able to make any headway at the polls.
This is the “prophesy” although I am not an angel of doom since it is the reality on the ground.
Despite these positive and negative factors, almost all the towns, communities, villages and hamlets in the next few days left for the elections are going to be the “political battle grounds” for the contesting parties, especially the two main parties, the NPP and the NDC, both of which are gearing for action to undo each other.
It is however expected that the polls, dubbed “Atta-and Atta contest” since the two main contestants, Amoako Atta and Atta Twum bear the same name will be peaceful.
This is because the two men who are friends and currently leading the assembly to develop the area last week stood on a common platform at Kwabeng to appeal to their supporters from the NPP and the NDC not to do anything to mar the beauty of the election.
“We the two Attas are friends leading the assembly to develop the communities in this constituency so if you want either of us to be your MP, the only thing to do is to canvass for votes for that person in a friendly atmosphere since only one of us can occupy the seat to help develop the area” Amoako Atta and Atta Twum told assembly members during assembly meeting last Friday August 13 at Kwabeng.
The stand taken by the two main opponents in the by-election calling for peace on a common platform, the first of its kind in the region if heeded would make the Atiwa by-election different from the previously held Akwatia by-election where supporters of the NPP and the NDC were at each others’ throat, resulting in injuries and a near blood bath.