OPINION: A unifying NPP parliamentary candidate emerges in the Nadowli-Kaleo constituency

Cornelius K. Belbah

Following the wise decision of the Nadowli-Kaleo Constituency Legislator, Hon ASK Bagbin, not to seek his eighth term re-election on the ticket of the NDC, many political pundits see it as a glorious opportunity for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to win the seat for the first time since 1992. According to these analysts, the NPP only need to do their homework very well and elect a marketable, credible, experienced and more importantly, a unifying candidate, in its upcoming Parliamentary Primaries slated on September 28, 2019.

The longest serving Member of Parliament,  after failing woefully to realize his Presidential ambition, was reported to have been secretly lacing his boots to seek for an eighth term re-election as MP. This incurred the wrath of majority of his constituents which resulted in intense agitation by various youth groups in the area especially from his own party, against his attempted comeback.

Within the rank and file of the NPP in the Nadowli-Kaleo Constituency, attempts are being made to elect a consensus and unifying candidate to represent the party in the 2020 elections. Our sources say, the delegates and elders of the party are unhappy with the status quo of disunity and factionalism within the Constituency, especially amongst the Executive Committee.

They alleged that the activities of the Upper West Regional Chairman, Hon. SB Kangberee, is rather fueling the tension in the constituency. This is a worry to the NPP in the constituency since he, the Regional Chairman is supposed to play the fatherly role rather than taking sides. It is alleged that he openly declared his support for a certain candidate at a meeting he held with some Electoral Area Coordinators in the Nadowli-Kaleo Constituency.

So far, three (3) persons appear to be battle-ready to contest the September 28, 2019 parliamentary primaries on the ticket of the NPP. They include: the current District Chief Executive, Hon. Mad. Kate Lankono, the 2016 PC and currently the Deputy National Organizer, Hon. Elvis Botah and Cornelius K. Belbah, a banker and Patron of the party. The fourth candidate is the former DCE under the Kufuor regime and 2008 Parliamentary Candidate.

According to some Elders, Constituency Executives, Electoral Area Coordinators and Polling Station Executives contacted in the constituency, Mr. Cornelius Belbah, the Greater Accra Regional Manager of Bank of Africa Ghana Limited, is the viable candidate to represent the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the upcoming parliamentary primaries.

We understand the elders of the party want to engage Cornelius and the DCE on mutual terms ahead of the primaries, since the 2016 PC appears to have no support within the council of elders and patrons any more. He is seen to be disrespectful to the elders, lacks integrity and credibility, and lied his way into the party in 2015 through to the top.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cornelius K. BELBAH, is largely seen as a unifying and consensus builder candidate, after two camps within the constituency appear to have sharply divided the Council of Elders, Patrons, Constituency Executives, Electoral Area Coordinators and Polling Station Executives, in the Nadowli-Kaleo Constituency. 

The rivalry camps, one formed behind the 2016 Parliamentary Candidate, Mr. Elvis Botah and the other behind the current DCE, Hon. Kate Lankono, have left the constituency largely fragmented and in an acrimonious state. Sources say, the division between the two rivalry camps led to the series of suspensions in the party including: some appointed constituency executives, the 2016 Parliamentary Candidate, Mr Elvis Botah, and the Constituency Chairman, Mr. Martin Andonye.

The Regional Chairman and his loyal surrogates, through overt and covert means, revoked the suspension of Mr. Elvis Botah; and succeeded in getting him appointed as one of the Deputy National Organizers to the NPP National Organizer, Hon. Sammy Awuku. The procedures leading to the revocation of Mr. Botah’s suspension remain in doubt; whether or not, the procedures adopted were valid constitutionally and followed the principles of Natural Justice.

It is also unclear what actually necessitated the suspension of the Constituency Chairman, Mr. Martin Andonye. But per the snippet of information our source gathered, his suspension was orchestrated by some Regional Executives loyal to Mr. Elvis Botah and backed by the Regional Chairman, Hon. SB Kangberee. It is largely believed that Hon. Kangberee has vowed to have his darling boy, Mr. Elvis Botah, declared as the NPP parliamentary candidate at all cost.

However, some elders and delegates contacted say,  Mr. Cornelius BELBAH is seen as an ideal and a unifying candidate in the constituency that is sharply divided, with dysfunctional structures at all levels of the party in the constituency. Some polling station executives admitted that, it is only Mr. Belbah who has been engaging them at polling stations and zonal levels without using insulting and disparaging words against his other potential contenders. They further indicated that he has been supporting them with fertilizers, cashew seedlings for planting, agrochemicals, improved seeds and tractor services at discounted price since 2017; and helping them start a zonal cashew and food crop farms. According to them, they see a lot of hope in him as the parliamentary candidate that can unseat the NDC.

Mr. Belbah’s youthful appeal and respect for all party faithfuls in a predominantly youthful constituency is expected to work in favour of the NPP if he is presented by the party as its parliamentary candidate for election 2020. In fact, one high ranking NDC Executive member contacted in Nadowli confessed that, if NPP presents Cornelius as the parliamentary candidate, their fear is that, he will weaken the base of their party in the Nadowli-Charikpong areas significantly.

Within the party in the constituency and beyond, Mr. Belbah is seen as respectful, politically savvy, experienced, competent, affable, humble and on good terms with all rivalry camps within the constituency. He is also on good terms with the party elders, patrons, electoral area coordinators, constituency executives and polling station executives in the constituency. His message of new hope, reconciliation, peace, unity, and having the welfare of polling station executives at heart that he consistently preaches, are clearly seen to be rejuvenating the rank and file of the party. 

Mr. Belbah has been highly commended for his contributions aimed at rebuilding and re-uniting the party to capture the seat in 2020. He is currently seen as the saviour and only hope for the party in the 2020 elections.

At the filling of his nomination forms on August 3, 2019, it  turned out to be the most visible endorsement of his candidature by over 350 of the delegates. Some delegates contacted say, if primaries had been held that day, Mr. Cornelius Belbah would have won over 60% of the votes, and eventually win the seat for the NPP for the first time since 1992.

Clearly, 28th September, 2019 will determine the fate of the NPP come 2020.

By Awudu Nelson, a native of Nadowli-Kaleo

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