A tough political tussle reminiscent of the biblical battle between David and Goliath would take place in the Assin South Constituency in the Central Region in the forthcoming December 7 polls.
Ordinarily, one would expect a stiff competition between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) but this will not be the case this time around.
The parliamentary seat, which had been occupied by the NPP, is currently under a serious threat not from another political entity but an independent candidate.
Interestingly, the constituency was one of the keenly contested in the run-up to the 2016 general election owing to the unpredictable nature of the voter population.
Ahead of the 2020 polls, the political dynamics have dramatically changed forcing all candidates to adopt varying political tactics to sway voters to their side.
The parliamentary aspirants are Reverend John Ntim Fordjour, the sitting MP, Mr. Nicholas Nana Baffoe of NDC and Mr Kofi Damtse, an independent candidate.
Also, posters have emerged of Nana Nti Takara, who contested in the 2016 election as an independent candidate but now standing on the ticket of the Ghana Union Movement (GUM).
Other political parties that fielded candidates in the previous elections but are yet to surface are the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the National Democratic Party (DFP), People’s National Convention (PNC) and National Democratic Party (NDP). These parties and independent candidates have never posed any threat to the electoral fortunes of the two political giants.
All parliamentary candidates are confident of defeating each other considering the massive support they enjoy in the area.
Currently none of the parliamentary candidates is prepared to take the electorate in the Constituency for granted. All the aforementioned candidates have begun vigorous campaigns in grand style, but with some hostilities as they seek to annex the seat.
Political pundits believe any of the aspirants who would want to grab the position must be one who is in constant touch with the people, be development-oriented and avoid playing the ethnicity card because some had played that card in previous elections and still lost it.
The electorate are very quick to change their minds if any of the parties, particularly the NDC and NPP, field candidates with massive appeal and have the capability of meeting the aspirations of the people.
In reality, the battle will not be between the NPP and NDC but among the elephant family as they go into the election with a divided front and factionalism that will split their votes. Both are leaving no stone unturned, appearing at every social gathering and drumming home their capabilities to offer their best.
The disqualification of one of the two parliamentary aspirants to pave the way for the sitting Member of Parliament (MP), Rev. John Ntim Fodjour unopposed during the ruling NPP’s Parliamentary Primary in the Constituency has peaked political tension and apprehension.
The move which was met with mass disapproval by scores of party executives and staunch grassroots supporters who petitioned the NPP Headquarters in Accra to register their displeasure, has offered the opposition NDC a blank cheque to marshall all political arsenals to win the seat.
Mr Yusif Ibrahim, the leader of some aggrieved NPP members at a media briefing at Assin-Darmang sometime in March, threatened to vote ‘skirt and blouse’ in the 2020 election. He claimed that the imposition of the sitting MP on the Party is a recipe for disaster.
“We have a big problem now because our MP and some faceless constituency and regional executives are not making the party attractive to the youth. I don’t hate them but I hate their diabolic politics,” he said.
“If the executives believe our MP is doing well and loved by all, then why are they going all out to protect him? The MP is afraid of his abysmal performance and we will show him our disapproval if he is allowed to go unopposed,” he added.
In addition to that, three key constituency executives with large followings among others have been suspended indefinitely for what the party described as “misconduct” but had been denied by all affected persons.
The suspended persons are Messrs Theophilous Konadu Taylor, former Constituency Chairman, Michael Kwaku Owusu, former Secretary and Eric Amoateng, former Deputy Constituency Secretary.
While the elephant family are “battling it out” for votes at most gatherings in different parts of the Constituency, the NDC candidate has also girded his loins with the hope of dislodging the two.
Stronghold of NPP
The seat was first won by the NDC in 1992 and 1996 by Mr Francis K. Edzi and Mr Kwaku Alhassan Dadzie respectively, however, the NPP regained its political strength in the Constituency in the year 2000 winning both the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Professor Dominic Kwaku Fobi who snatched it in that year also became Minister of Education and Sports for the NPP and retained the seat until 2016 when he declined to seek re-election.
Statistically, the NPP has polled a minimum and a maximum of 54.3percent and 65.1 percent to retain the seat since year 2000.
However, the NDC had since 1996 to date placed second fiddle in all elections scoring 43.1, 37.5, 33.4, 45.0, 46.5 and 39.7 percent respectively.
Rev. Fordjour, is seeking re-election to retain the parliamentary seat after winning the seat for the first time in the 2016 elections.
The MP said he was counting on his achievements and the Party’s numerous development projects undertaken across the length and breadth of the country of which the Assin South Constituency is no exception, as the trump card to retain the slot.
The projects include road, health and school infrastructure, electrification projects and human development.
However, Mr Joseph Kofi Damptse, the 54 year old independent candidate expressed strong disapproval of his disqualification saying: “I am disappointed that my Party, believed to be the beacon of democracy in Ghana has failed woefully to officially inform me about the reasons for my disqualification.”
The independent parliamentary aspirant who is an old soldier has been in constant touch with the people at the grass roots for decades and has been instrumental in addressing some of the challenges facing the people in the areas of health, education and agriculture.
Outlining his strategy to win the seat, the disqualified Parliamentary Aspirant who lost the 2016 primaries narrowly to the sitting MP, said he was bent on galvanizing massive grassroot support for a landslide electoral victory in the 2020 polls.
In addition to that he is working assiduously to identify dedicated sympathisers and galvanise their support and involvement to win the seat.
“Considering the tremendous work I am doing at the grassroot level to attract more floating voters as well as members of other political parties to my fold, I am confident of winning the seat.
Mr Damtse was full of praise for the Party supporters who have declared their support for him to contest and urged them to assist him to achieve his priority concern to place the wellbeing of the people far above partisan politics.
He called on Ghanaians to change their voting pattern to effect the desired structural transformation of the economy to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Mr Damtse urged Party members to desist from inflammatory statements, acrimony and rancour to maintain the peace within the Party. They should eschew all bitterness and anger irrespective of their individual or collective differences, close their ranks and unite with all and work to win the seat.
Mr. Nicholas Nana Baffoe, the NDC candidate who is a new entrant in the race but a doyen of politics indicated that his victory in the election was a forgone conclusion, since the electorate will not vote for the incumbent MP who had not done well to get the people out of endemic poverty.
According to him, the Constituency would also benefit from other development projects, especially education, to improve the declining standards particularly at the basic level.
When the GNA contacted Mr Baffoe, on his chances in the upcoming parliamentary election, he promised to chalk up a resounding victory over the others as they were no match for him.
He said the popularity of President John Dramani Mahama, coupled with the numerous development projects he and the NDC government had provided in the Constituency would convince the electorate to vote for him as the parliamentarian and President Mahama in government.
According to him, the constituents have vowed to also return former President Mahama to power and also vote for him as MP because he is articulate, and can champion their cause in Parliament to bring the desired development to the area.
Looking at the background of the three aspirants, it seems they have all paid their due but pundits believe what would do the trick is how best they are marketing themselves and the extent they are in constant touch with the people.
Not much has been heard in the Constituency about the other parties’ candidates but key watchers of the Constituency believe that any candidate from the other parties would have an arduous task of dislodging the NDC and the NPP candidates who are formidable at the grassroots.
The question now is who wins the slot? Certainly, the electorate in this constituency know exactly what they want and they would go for it!! The unpredictable nature of the electorate would therefore be brought to bear on the ‘D’ Day.
Will the sitting MP be second time lucky or will it be the turn of the NDC which is going all out to snatch the seat or will the independent candidate pull a surprise? Let’s wait and see how the electorate would decide on December 7.