Who Wins the Asawase Bye Election?
NDC, NPP Make Victory Claims... underdog PNC to pull surprise? WITH THREE days to go for what looks like the mother of all bye-elections, the National Democratic Congress (NDC's) claim that the Asawase is theirs for the taking has been countered by the New Patriotic party (NPP).
The NDC has launched "Operation All Out" to ensure that every one vote counts in their favour.
"The seat is for us and the NDC shall not lose it to any other party," regional chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Nti Fordjour, has stated, which position has been strengthened by Assistant Regional Secretary, Mr., Doe Tamakloe.
He says the Asawase seat, by tradition, belongs to the NDC and shall remain so. Analyzing the trend, he explained that in 1992, Mohammed Moro secured it for the NDC. Then in 1996 Lawyer Gollo won the primaries to contest for the NDC but had to give way to Alhaji Musa because he was not a Moslem.
When the late Dr. Gibril Adamu attempted to contest in 2000 the party directed that they count on then sitting MP.
As a protest, according to Tamakloe, Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie won the seat for the NPP only to be taken back by Dr. Gibril for NDC. But as fate would have it, he did not live long.
From the analysis above, Tamakloe says whether the NPP present a Moslem candidate or not, NDC's Alhaji Mubarak is the people's choice, having been nominated by elders of the Asawase community.
He has predicted a humiliating defeat for the NPP, much more than Mrs. Patricia Appiagyei suffered at the December elections.
Tamakloe explains his stance in the allegation that the NPP government is not doing anything for the Moslem community.
According to him, the community has been denied access to the Poverty Alleviation Fund and soft loans.
Tamakloe says in spite of the lavishing of monies the NPP is no threat to its (NDC's) bid to win the election.
He also pointed to the efficiency of the Electoral Commission (EC), but did not want the EC to use its efficiency negatively, following allegations that some EC officials were agents of the ruling party.
Mr. Akwasi Abayie, the regional organizer, says the Asawase seat is one seat the NDC is not prepared to lose and that all indications point to a massive win for the NDC.
He cited economic hardships facing the constituents.
Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi is anticipating a victory march at the close of elections on Thursday.
Professor John Evans Atta Mills, the party's flagbearer, is convinced that Alhaji Mubarak is no match for other contestants and it is only necessary that the constituents vote for him to continue and extend the good works of the late MP.
The aspiring MP for the NDC, Alhaji Mubarak, himself, told the Chronicle that he is winning hands down. His only fear is reports of intimidation by some NPP activists.
Alhaji Mubarak seems not deterred because the NDC will resist all attempts to cow its followers.
He foresaw a bloody situation if the NPP attempted to twist their arms and bend the rules of elections in their favour.
Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng, a founding Member of the NPP, has made counter claims against those by the NDC.
He disagreed with the claim that the Asawase seat is, by tradition, for NDC. "If we were to go by tradition in politics, NDC will not have won any seat in Ashanti region," he defended.
Ayisi-Boateng also said the perception of the Zongo community has changed, as nobody is talking about the propaganda of 'aliens' being sent away.
He explained that the NDC won the seat (then Asokwa East) in 1992 when NPP boycotted the elections. It was secured by Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie in 2000 when NPP was in opposition only to lose it to the late Dr. Gibril in the last elections.
According to him, the NPP have had to correct the mistakes of the 2004 elections. Mama Pat (referring to Mrs. Patricia Appiagyei, NPP's defeated candidate), as a woman and a Christian, has been replaced with "a typical Zongo boy" whose father is also prominent in the community.
Ayisi-Boateng pitched NPP's chances even at 50-50, against Alhaji Shariff's background-
"He is well educated, humble, respectful, affable and down to earth and a suitable replacement for the late Dr. Gibril," Ayisi-Boateng touted.
Alhaji Shariff has reportedly endeared himself to the community by establishing a school and gone further to supply school uniform and learning materials to the people.
The NPP founding member has called on the electorate to vote for Alhaji Shariff, alias Baba Alhaji, and use him to access development for the area.
He measured Alhaji Baba at par with the late Dr. Gibril, who coincidentally is the blood relation of the NPP aspirant. "Both are humble, loving and caring and as a blood relation a suitable replacement.
For this reason, Ayisi-Boateng sees the Thursday election as a contest between two brothers and not a war and that the results should be accepted in good faith, but stressed that "This is the time for Asawase to vote and vote wisely."
Against these positions, Nana Akufo-Addo, the Foreign Minister, who was in Kumasi over the weekend to prop up his boy (Ambassador Alhaji Baba) said the task ahead of the NPP next Thursday is not easy but was counting on the goodwill of his "boy" to overturn things in favour of NPP.
Mr. Kwabena Agyepong, the press secretary to the President, has also told Hello FM listeners in Kumasi that it might not be easy but was hopeful the NPP could secure the seat.
Mr. Stephen Ntim, NPPs national first vice chairman, said the party was poised to take the seat from the NDC, having rectified the mistake of presenting a Christian against NDC's Moslem.
Dwelling on the past successes of the party at previous bye-elections at Bimbilla, Wulensi, Navrongo, Kumawu, Gomoa, Amenfi West and Upper Denkyira, Ntim declared "Nothing stops us (NPP) from winning convincingly."
Mr. Sam Cudjoe, the Regional Secretary of NPP, explained the optimism in the fact that the NPP has done all due diligence to ensure victory.
Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi, Ashanti regional first vice chairman of the ruling party, says the NPP needs the Asawase seat.
"Strategically, we need this seat to consolidate our claim on Ashanti as our stronghold," he said.
According to him, there is no house in the constituency that has not been entered to canvass for votes.
He was hopeful that their efforts would be crowned with success "because the use of lies by the NDC has backfired."
"This is no time for tribal and religious politics, " he said, and cautioned the NDC not to cry wolf when there is none.
The seeming underdogs,the PNC, has also staked its claim in the impending elections and registered its contention, saying it will pull a surprise on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Mr. Samuel Yorke-Aidoo, the regional electoral officer, who admitted that the election would be keenly contested and has assured that the electoral system is good, though not foolproof, to ensure good elections.
He called on political parties to be vigilant since they knew the system well and not dwell on suspicions.
"This is not the time for suspicions else they will be living in ignorance," he cautioned.
Yorke-Aidoo also called on the electorate to be self disciplined and comport themselves by doing the right things and not undermine the electoral system.