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The Wa Central parliamentary race in the Upper West Region is heading for a close fight as the country heads to the polls on Monday.
Beyond every doubt, it will be a straight contest between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Before the 2016 general election, the NDC monopolised all the 11 seats in the region, but the NPP snatched five of them during the last polls.
The region was part of the then Upper Region until 1983 when it became Upper West and Upper East regions.
The NDC under Ft Lt Rawlings as President poached a number of good human resources from various backgrounds, including the Upper West stable.
These included Alhaji Iddrisu Mahama, Mr Ali Salifu, Mr Alban Kingsford Bagbin, Mr Edward Salia, Mr Amin Amidu Sulemani, among other personalities, which changed the political dynamics in the area in the favour of the party. The people also showed their appreciation and rallied behind the NDC government.
Hitherto, the region was a stronghold of the United Party (UP) under the joint leadership of Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia and Simon D. Dombo. Other stalwarts of the party then included Mumuni Dumbia, B.K. Adama and Jato Kaleo, and Karbo.
In the past seven elections, Wa Central has voted for the NDC parliamentary candidates, including incumbent Mr Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, a 56-year-old development consultant, who has served the constituency for 16 years as a legislator.
However, in the 2016 parliamentary election, the NPP narrowed down the margins although NDC retained the seat. Out of 57,489 votes cast, the NDC had 25,319, with the NPP coming just 571 votes short.
The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) came third, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) came fourth, People’s National Convention (PNC) was fifth, while Ghana Consolidated Popular Party followed in sixth place.
This year, parties contesting the parliamentary polls in the constituency are Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), the PPP, the NDC and the NPP.
The LPG is represented by Dr Kuuyine Edgard Yelyaga, a 34-year-old banker; the PPP by Mr Mohammed Sharif, a teacher; and the NPP by Hajia Humu Awudu, a 36-year-old businesswoman, all three are fighting to unseat Mr Pelpuo of the NDC.
Dr Pelpuo, vying for a fifth term in Parliament, is highly tipped to retain the seat given his vast experience, resources, and general appeal.
As December 7 elections approach, all the four parliamentary candidates are criss-crossing the communities with their respective campaigns, with particularly more door-to-door campaigning.
The NPP’s Hajia Awudu has two major hurdles to clear in her quest to capture the Wa Central seat. The first is to overcome the male dominant socio-cultural beliefs and practice of the society that have hindered the progress of women over the years. The second is how to defeat the incumbent who has been on the seat since 2004.
As the sole female parliamentary candidate contesting in the 11 constituencies of the region, Hajia Awudu came to the scene in a whirlwind fashion by winning the NPP primary hands down. From there, she has grown in stature.
With her battle cry of “Yelmaana”, meaning restoration of hope, Hajia Awudu has rallied some youth who sound convinced of a new face leading the constituency but could this face be a female and from the NPP? After the NPP broke the monopoly of NDC to capture five parliamentary seats in the region, anything seems possible now.
The NDC has also shifted gear to recapture the seats the party lost.
Voting trends have always been dictated by tribal and clan links in line with chieftaincy and religion, and both the NDC and the NPP candidates in Wa Central belong to the same clan, making it an interesting case.
The constituency shares boundaries with Nadowli/Kaleo, Wa East and the Wa West. It has its capital as Wa, the regional capital.
The Wa Central Constituency has 88,731 registered voters and 200 polling centres, including the two special voting centres.
The demands of the electorate include job avenues, efficient environmental sanitation and waste management, dual carriageway across the Wa township, especially with the appearance of articulated trucks from the south to neighbouring countries posing threats.