I first of all want to extend congratulations to the New Patriotic Party(NPP) for successfully concluding its executive elections from the base to the apex.
The attention of the newly elected executive should immediately be to 2024 presidential and parliamentary primaries.
If the current composition of Parliament is anything to go by, then the 2024 election is more about parliamentary seats than the presidential position.
And what would be the contribution of the Upper East Region? This is the region that contributed only one seat, down from three, but disproportionately benefitted from appointments than other regions.
Check the list – Works and Housing Deputy Minister; Director General (DG),Ghana Port & Harbours Authority; DG, Maritime Authority; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Buffer Stock; CEO, Northern Electricity Distribution Co; CEO, Northern Development Authority; CEO, National Petroleum Authority and Regional NADMO Director.
What reason have all these eight heavyweights plus a Regional Minister, 15 M/DCES and 17 Regional Executives got not to deliver more than four seats from their home region? To whom much is given, much is expected.
For the NPP to break the 8, the regions must work to break their own records. In the case of the Upper East Region, their best result was in 2008 with four seats. So, the project goal for 2024 must be to ‘break the 4’. This can be achieved if the party works to avoid their internal self-destruction – the “either me or nobody else mentality”.
The work of the newly elected National Executive Council (NEC) is already cut out for them in the Upper East Region. First, NEC should bring all the 41 persons listed above into a room for a day and have a tough conversation with the goal of agreeing on a strategy and getting full commitment to delivering a minimum of five seats in the region.
As a follower of the fortunes of the party in the region, I make the following observations:
- Binduri (our only seat) should be protected by learning lessons from Navrongo, Zebilla and Tempane 2020. Regional Minister and Deputy Minister for Works and Housing (MP) MUST return the seat.
- Navrongo was given away in 2020 – it would take a miracle to win it back
- Bolgatanga Central, Bulsa South, Garu & Talense – These four constituencies have the 2020 candidates now as sitting DCEs. They all have their work cut out for them.
- Zebilla – winnable with a new good candidate and party executive unity.
- Bawku Central – Cannot be won with incumbent PC – look for a credible candidate from the other ethnic groups.
- China/Paga & Pusiga – “two birds of same feathers”. The 2020 candidates are both first-timers and former employees of the same bank (Stanbic). Their performance at the election was far beyond expectation, yet they are the two who have been ignored by way of appointments and left to their own fate. It is even being rumoured that the two are being starved of resources to prevent them from contesting in 2024 and for the party to field their preferred and wealthy candidates.
The two sitautions
Pusiga is more interesting, given that five of the eight above-listed appointees are from that constituency, which makes it a MUST Win seat, otherwise these appointees should be backlisted for future appointments.
It is also the trickiest in terms of the ethnic and self-interest dynamics. So, the party needs to play its cards carefully, and also get all the five government appointees plus the DCE to commit (hearts, mouths, and pockets) to a win.
Rumours are making the rounds that some government appointees conspired to ensure the 2020 candidate did not win to pave the way for their own interest in 2024; and that the 2024 candidature was bought out even before the December 7, 2020 elections. Those rumours are beginning to play out.
Though there is an ongoing court petition, a new potential candidate has already taken over the show. That is the CEO of Buffer Stock , Alhaji Abdul Wahab Hanan, who, during a day visit to the constituency during the 2020 campaign, made a promise of three ambulances to the Muslim community. That promise virtually laid the foundation for his interest in 2024.
If primaries were held today, Hanan would defeat Dubiure by a wide margin, and why not – money talks. Hanan has already “bought out” the 32 new constituency executives and electoral area coordinators with a motorbike each, and transports them to his plush residence in Tamale for meetings. But the bigger question is: Will he win the general elections?
For whatever reason, Hanan will pay any price for that seat. Beyond the delegates and into the general elections, Hanan is also preparing the grounds. He delivered the three state-of-the-art Ambulances, and sponsored 15 Muslims for Hajj 2022. He sponsored the Pusiga chief and many Muslim Clerics to Umrah during Ramadan 2022. He has provided 30 boreholes, and promised 40 more. He has built sheds for chiefs and sub-chiefs, and distributed articulated truckloads of rice, sugar, fertilizers, and plastic chair. He recently made a 7-day tour of the constituency, meeting chiefs, opinion leaders, youth groups as well as women groups.
No wonder he is variously nicknamed “Dangote”, ÄTM”, and “Cash man”. Hanan deserves a lot of credit for his support of the party in the 2020 elections. No wonder, he was honoured by the Savanah Region for his huge support. At his recent meeting with party delegates in the USA, he stated that he was the only government appointee who was going around the region during the elections.
Also, in a meeting with party members in Pusiga, he indicated that he had made similar contributions to seven constituencies, and if he decided to contest in any of them, he would win hands down. So, he was not contributing to Pusiga because he wanted to stand for MP.
Unfortunately, that cross-regional support did not help the Upper East [his home] region. He should have targeted a few (about 3) constituencies to ensure they were won.
Despite openly stating at the Pusiga meeting that he was not interested in the seat, a recent publication in “The Daily Dispatch” and commentaries on various social media platforms seem to suggest otherwise.
Come 2024, Hanan can win a minimum of two seats in the Upper East Region if he directs his wealth properly. The two seats which are most likely to be won through his efforts are Pusiga and Bawku Central. This can be achieved by him working with the other appointees from Pusiga to support the 2020 candidate win Pusiga. He [Hanan] should stand in Bawku Central, and beat Mahama Ayariga hands down.
This would surely benefit the party more than him pushing away the equality of the 2020 candidate to end up with one seat instead of two.
Let us rather support this man who is now ungratefully being described as an “old man” and “out of pocket”. We have already forgotten how he struggled to revive a “dying party” by moving the results from 7,209 in 2016 to 14,866 in 2020 at his age and with his own resources plus little support from a few personal friends
Let us wise up. The party has paid its dues to the Upper East. 2024 is the crucial time the region must pay her dues to the party by not giving it less than five seats. Let us put party interest above personal interest. It should be all hands-on deck, pushing towards one direction – “Break the 4”, and Hanan must stand up to be counted.