Mankatah to replace Mankatah?
SON of the late Samuel Nii Ayi Kwei Mankatah, Lennox Sidney Asafoatse Kojo Mankatah is likely to represent the New Patriotic Party in the forth coming by-election scheduled for August 30, 2005.
A combined team of Constituency, Regional and National Executive of the NPP will be meeting on Tuesday 25th August 2005 to choose a candidate to represent the party at the by-election. Due to the intense bitterness and rivalry that characterised the party's primaries in the run-up to the December 2004 elections, the party has decided to choose a candidate by consensus rather than through an election, particular since this is a one-off by-election at a crucial constituency, where the party has almost been written off yet sees it as a major morale boost if it wins.
Nominations have already been opened and five people have so far filled nomination forms, expressing their interest. They are, Madam Adoley Acquaye, a receptionist at the Castle and a keen football enthusiast, Lawrence Tagoe, a lawyer, and Oromasis Nii Jabaah Abbey. The rest are Nii Laryea Squire and Reginald Niibi Ayibonte.
Even though the late MP's son had not filed his nomination at the time of going to press, it is expected that he will file by the close of day on Monday 24th August, 2005 to enable the party make a choice. Also expected to file is a Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Nii Okai Hammond. Significantly, Dr Hammond had traveled to Guinea with Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen, at a time that he was expected to stay at home to press his candidacy home.
Even though the late MP's son is a virtual newcomer to the fold of the NPP, having deserted the NPP in 1998, he seems to enjoy the support of the big wigs in the party who believe that he alone can help present the NPP with a united front.
The rest of the candidates, especially Nii Laryea Squire and Reginald Niibi Ayibonte have all got factions within the party in the constituency, a factor which threatens the unity and stability of the party. Another factor that makes Mankatah a hot favourite is the fact that his candidature will prevent the NDC from using the late MP's funeral as a political tool to gain an advantage over the NPP.
It will also effectively kill the sympathy vote factor. Indeed it might even swing sympathy in favour of the NPP.
Lawrence Tagoe may also be a strong favourite if the issue of neutrality becomes the strongest factor in the choice of a candidate. Being a lawyer stands him in good stead.
Adoley Acquaye, a receptionist at the Castle, Osu is a thorough-bred NPP activist whose popularity in the NPP is overwhelming. Indeed a good number of party faithfuls believe she deserves better than be a receptionist at the Castle.
If she gets the nod, she could pull a lot of surprises. Odododiodio is a constituency, with a large segment of its population in the low income bracket. These people, some analysts believe, abhor flamboyance and intellectual arrogance. They are therefore more likely to relate to the likes of Madam Adoley Acquaye, who is calm, humble and above all within the same income bracket as they are. The gender factor may certainly be a plus for her. She is also widely seen as a seasoned political strategist.
Niibi Ayibonte is the former MP for the area, defeated by the late MP during the December 2004 election. A number of people The Statesman spoke to attribute his loss to the fact that he had become arrogant and self-conceited. That perception, however exaggerated, is still rife in the constituency and may still be the NPP's undoing if Niibi is chosen as the candidate. His intense rivalry with frustrated NDC 2004 aspirant for the seat, Nii Vanderpuye, is feared to divert attention and intensify tension in the area.
Nii Laryea Squire is a dedicated NPP activist. He is hard working and full of zeal. Constituents The Statesman spoke to were however of the view that Nii Laryea does not have what it takes to capture the seat for the NPP.
In the NPP's search for a candidate, several names have come up at one time or the other. Names like Randy Abbey of “Good Morning Ghana” fame and Tommy Okine, Chief Executive of Accra Hearts of Oak have all come up for consideration. A top-notch NPP executive told The Statesman that “the party will stop at nothing to win this by-election; even if it is an NDC person who will win for us we shall dialogue with him/her to cross over and contest for us.”
The NPP starts the race as the underdogs. However the Odododiodio constituency has shown a penchant for unpredictability and August 30 could be any party's day.
Since 1996, the Odododiodio seat has been there for the taking for any of the two main parties. Even Rawlings' landslide victory in the constituency in 1996 over Kufuor was overturned against Mills in 2000.
In the 1996 Presidential race, the NDC leader received about 5,000 more votes (53.2%) to Kufuor's 26,181 (44.7%) in the constituency. That same year, Odoi Sykes (NPP) lost by about 2,000 votes (46.2%) to Okaidja Adamafio's 29,142 (49.7%). In 2000, Niibi Ayi-Bonte (NPP) ran home with 28,270 (51.4%); with the incumbent trailing far behind with 24,181 (43.9%). In 2004, the roles were reversed. In the first run of the 2000 presidential election, Kufuor, whose 27,132 (50.6%) beat Mills, who got 24,944 (46.6%), changed places with the NDC candidate in 2004: Mills 51.9% (35,489), Kufuor 46.8% (32,046).
The parliamentary election followed the same pattern: the incumbent NPP MP lost out to the NPP-man-turned-NDC Nii Ayikwei Mankatah, who won with 35,634 (52.4%). The task now for the NPP is to improve upon the 31,546 (46.4%) votes received by Niibi Ayi-Bonte last December. And for the NDC, the task is simple: keep the elephant firmly locked out.