As the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) goes to the polls on Saturday to elect its parliamentary candidates for the 2020 general election, its members in the Bono Region have only one thing in mind.
That is the resolve to elect winnable candidates to recapture seats they had lost to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2016 general election and possibly snatch some of the seats that have become the preserve or stronghold of the NPP over the years.
Out of the 12 seats in the current Bono Region, the NDC has only one seat, that is, the Banda Constituency while the NPP occupies the remaining 11 seats.
The 11 seats currently occupied by the NPP are Dormaa West, Dormaa Central, Dormaa East, Berekum East, Berekum West, Jaman North, Jaman South, Tain, Wenchi, Sunyani East and Sunyani West.
Prior to the 2016 general election, the NDC had three out of the 12 constituencies forming the current Bono Region, however in that election, NDC lost the Dormaa West and Tain constituencies to the NPP.
In the August 24, 2019 primary, 22 aspirants will be seeking the mandate of the delegates to contest eight out of the 12 seats in the region while four aspirants are going unopposed.
Those standing unopposed are the incumbent MP for Banda, Ahmed Ibrahim; Okofo Dartey Williams, Jaman South; Fredrick Ahenkwaa, Jaman North, and Simon Ampabeng Kyeremeh, Berekum East.
Notable among the aspirants is the former NDC MP for Dormaa West, Mr Vincent Oppong Asamoah, who was also a former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports and is seeking a comeback after he lost his seat during the 2016 general election.
But he will have to battle it out with two other aspirants, Ali Mohammed and Ayirigiya Daniel Ayambire in order to have the chance to contest for the seat in 2020.
Another former MP, Kwasi Agyemang Gyan-Tutu is seeking to re-enter Parliament but he has to beat his only contender in the primary, Sulemana Adama, before getting his name on the ballot paper to contest for the Tain seat which he lost in 2016.
Lining up to seek the mandate of delegates to wrest the Dormaa Central seat from the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, are five NDC stalwarts.
They are Gordon Asubonteng, a former Dormaa Municipal Chief Executive, Godfred Kumi Acheaw, Professor Kwame Agyenim Boateng, John Kwame Adu Jack and Eric Boateng, alias 4040.
A female contestant, Rachel Owusuah and Seth Kwaku Anorson are the only aspirants for Dormaa East while Dickson Kyere-Duah and Daniel Owusu Brempong are the aspirants for Berekum West.
NPP’s pledge for Banda
With the creation of two more regions out of the erstwhile Brong Ahafo Region, the Banda Constituency remains the only ‘orphaned’ constituency out of the 12 constituencies in the current Bono Region.
But the NPP has vowed to win the Banda Constituency, which is currently being occupied by a Minority Deputy Whip in Parliament, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, in the 2020 general election.
It is in this vein that four stalwarts of the NPP in the constituency have been cleared after filing their nominations to seek the mandate of their delegates to contest the seat.
They are former Member of Parliament for Wenchi West, Mr Joe Dankwa, a former Municipal Chief Executive for Wenchi and DCE for Tain, Madam Farizana Bintu, Dr Felix Opoku, a lecturer at the University of Cape Coast and Mr Paul Baffoe.
The Tain Constituency used to be known as Wenchi West since 1992 when it was occupied by Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah but became the Tain Constituency when President John Agyekum Kufuor created the Tain District out of the Wenchi Municipality with Nsawkaw as its capital.
In 2004, Ahmed Ibrahim contested the then Member of Parliament for Wenchi West, Joe Dankwa, lost but won the seat during the 2008 general election.
When the Banda District was carved out of the Tain District in 2012 by the then President J.E.A. Mills, a new Banda Constituency was also created.
Ahmed Ibrahim vrs Joe Dankwa
Since then Ahmed and Dankwa have taken their political rivalry to the Banda Constituency with Ahmed winning both the 2012 and the 2016 elections.
Ahmed Ibrahim, who is standing unopposed for NDC in the party’s forthcoming primary in the Banda Constituency has thus become the strongman of the area in recent times.
Should Mr Dankwa succeed in winning his party’s primary once again, another battle line will be drawn between the two in the struggle for the only seat being held by the NDC in the Bono Region.
The question is, can Dankwa or any of the other NPP aspirants who have been cleared to contest the forthcoming primary, find an antidote to the winning formula of Ahmed that had ensured his dominance in the Banda politics in recent times?
Difficult seats for NDC
The battle for the Wenchi Constituency Seat, which is currently being occupied by the Minister of Planning, Professor George Gyang-Baffuor, will be keen in 2020 but before that, the NDC has to settle on either Alhaji Seidu Haruna or Emmanuel Akyereko Twum to determine which of them would be the party’s candidate.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffuor-Awuah, has survived election after election since the Sunyani West Constituency was created.
During the 2016 general election the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Justice Samuel Adjei of the NDC vowed to unseat Mr Baffuor-Awuah but he was unable to do so.
On August 24, 2019, Mr Adjei would have to go past two other contestants, Millicent Yeboah Amankwaa and Abdulai Yahya to secure the mandate of his party to contest for the Sunyani West seat once again.
Apart from the 1992 general election when the NPP boycotted the parliamentary election because of what the party termed as Stolen Verdict during the presidential election, the Sunyani East Constituency has never been won by the NDC in the Fourth Republic.
With the incumbent MP, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, who is Majority Chief Whip, winning one election after the other after succeeding the late J.H Mensah, it could be a battle-impossible for the NDC to unseat him should he get the nod from his party to contest once again.
Any of the three NDC stalwarts; Collins Mahama, Allan Sekyere and Said Mubarak who wins the primary will, therefore, have an onerous task to change the status quo by taking the Sunyani East seat from the NPP.