...Threatens to rekindle the bad old days of Kumasi politics ...Decongestion exercise being rumoured as having delivered part of the death blow Various interpretations have been given to the outcome of the April 21 2005 Asawase by-election, which has been seen as a serious setback for the ruling NPP since its ascension to power in 2000, but the one interpretation that is currently holding sway is the "Decongestion Exercise" that had been taken place in Accra and Kumasi at around the same time that the by-election campaign was on.
The Ministry of Local Government has since stepped in to halt the decongestion programmes of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, giving credence to the suspicion that the NPP partially blames these exercises for the inability to capture Asawase from the NDC.
Following the publication of the directive from the ministry that ordered all local authorities to halt all the ongoing decongestion exercises, speculations are thick in the Ghanaian media that a scapegoat is being sought to blame Asawase on.
In reaction to the speculations, the National Organizer of the NPP, Mr. Lord Commey, has told the ADM that different factors might have accounted for NPP's failure in the Asawase defeat but said it was too early for anyone to tell what actually contributed to the party's failure.
To ascertain the actual reasons for the party's poor performance, he disclosed that the NPP has dispatched a team of researchers to the constituency to find out not only the reasons for the defeat but also what accounted for the low voter turnout recorded during the polls.
"Voters might have voted against the NPP not because they were dissatisfied with the decongestion exercise only They may have other things to complain about as well, but I think it is too early to prove these now until the research team has finished with its work" he said.
Mr Commey said the NPP was not surprised by the outcome of the Asawase by-election because it went into it as an underdog, "knowing very well there was a tough battle to be fought, looking at the 2004 election results recorded over there".
The NPP, he said, lost the Asawase seat to the NDC and wondered what could have changed so much in just three or four months to all of a sudden sway all the Zongo people to the NPP.
He said the outcome of the polls has laid it bare that the NPP has not done enough to woo the Zongos to its side. "I knew with all efforts we put in by concentrating our campaign in the Zongos there was all the assurance that they would vote for us - which they did not This is positive - it is just telling us that we've not done enough.
It is really a wake-up call for us to go back to our drawing board to restrategise and see how to win the Zongo communities."
Mr. Commey said his worry in the Asawase by-election rather was the voter apathy recorded in NPP strongholds, and said he would not be surprised if the research team's results proved him right.
He said the NPP strongholds were divided along tribal lines between the indigenous Akans and the Zongo communities. The Akans, he said claimed the NPP candidate in the 2004 elections, who happens to be an Akan, was rejected by the Zongos and therefore decided to seek revenge by not voting at all for the party's candidate in the by-election, who is a Muslim from the Zongo.
Mr. Commey said the party, which was aware of such developments before the election sent a special task force to the Akan communities to persuade them to rescind the decision, a move which yielded no result.
As the NPP mourns this loss and continues with its post mortem, the NDC by all its public pronouncements is very pleased, hoping the retention of the seat also signifies a resurgence of the party generally in the NPP stronghold of Ashanti Region.
So confident is the party that, its street wing, CJA, various known as Committee for Joint Action or Committee for Jerry's Ambition has been emboldened to defy the police and is threatening to hold one of its so-called wahala marches there today.
It is a threat that could backfire lethally, if the CJA is allowed to get away with its defiance.
Asawase, the sprawling conurbation of Ghana's once thriving Garden City, may yet rekindle those bad days of Ghana politics when bloody running battles used to ensue between followers of Ghana's founding political parties!