Politics of Friday, 24 June 2016
The battle lines have been drawn; boots are being laced in a contest expected to be fierce in the Odododiodoo Constituency as the country gears up for the 2016 election.
With less than 150 days to November 7, three political parties — the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) have elected candidates to contest for the close to 100,000 votes in that constituency.
The candidates are Nii Lante Vanderpuye, the incumbent NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency, Nii Lante Bannerman, the NPP candidate and Rev. William Larbi, aka ‘Stopper One’, the candidate for the PPP.
However, going by the voting trends there, it appears to be a contest of two Nii Lantes — an incumbent, who has by far given his party the widest victory margin in the history of Odododiodoo parliamentary elections, and another, a new entrant in the race which the NDC has won five times since 1992.
All the same, the influence of Rev Larbi as a local boy cannot be discounted in this year’s polls even though he is contesting for the first time. He is counting on his influence as a local boy to make great inroads.
Described as one of the country’s political thermometers because of its cosmopolitan nature, the Odododiodoo Constituency, from results of parliamentary elections since 1992, has an interesting record. With the exception of 2004, any party that won the Odododiodoo seat sent his presidential candidate to the Castle or Flagstaff House.
Since 1996, the elections in the constituency have been a two-horse race between the ruling NDC and NPP. This year’s does not appear to be different, as Nii Lante Vanderpuye, the incumbent MP and Nii Lantey Bannerman, the NPP candidate, are the clear favourites.
Since the inception of the Fourth Republic, all other parties that took part in elections in this constituency — the Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), National Reform Party (NRP), Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) and the National Convention Party (NCP) — just added to the numbers. They made little impact.
If Odododiodoo is a mouthful, so are the local politics.With bubbling commercial centres, including 31st December, Makola No. 2, Kantamanto and Agblogloshie markets, deep in its belly, the coastal constituency has a history of heavy turnout during elections.
It is also famous for its rich boxing and football history as well as fishing prowess. A cosmopolitan constituency by all standards, Odododiodoo’s diversity makes it a very important political centre which every party sees as a must-win.
In 2012, even before the race took off, the constituency came on the national political radar as people because worried about violence between members and supporters of the NPP and the NDC during the biometric voters registration.
The web of the constituency extends to areas including Jamestown, Ga Mashie, Korle Wonko, Kinka and Mudor. Ngleshie, Nmlitsagono, Korle Wonkon, Amamomo and Korle Dudor, which make up the electoral areas of the densely populated Odododiodoo Constituency.
What makes Odododiodoo tough to analyse is the DNA of its electorate. Traders, female porters through to office workers; the constituency has them all. While the female porters (kayayei), some food crop dealers and a section of the indigenes will likely endorse the NDC, the food crop traders, second-hand clothes dealers and a section of the local communities will go for the NPP. The office workers may be split between the two parties.
Interestingly, even with the diversity of its constituents, the NPP and the NDC have always elected people of Ga extraction to contest the seat since 1996.
In 2012, Mr Vanderpuye and the NPP candidate, Captain Victor Okaikoi, started on a clean sheet as first-time combatants but Mr Vanderpuye won the race decisively with almost 20,000 votes, the first time any candidate had stretched the victory margin that high in the constituency.
Nii Lante Vanderpuye
The year 2012 was a battle of billboards—one that Mr Vanderpuye, who is also the current Minister of Youth and Sports, won with giant ones that dwarfed all other candidates. This year, the skies of the constituency are yet to be occupied by the mega boards.
In the last elections, it appeared Nii Lante had a slight edge, given the incumbency advantage of a ruling party candidate and the fact that his previous attempt in 2000 was aborted. Nii Lante is also quite appealing to the youth because of his sports background.
A former broadcast journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Gold and although quite popular in the constituency, Mr Vanderpuye, however, faces an uphill task in his bid to retain the seat for the NDC, if his opponent’s drive is anything to go by.
One odd against him, however, is the post-June 3, 2015 demolitions which caused hundreds of slum dwellers in Old Fadama to lose their homes.
Nii Lante Bannerman
Mr Bannerman might have entered the race as relatively unknown but the popularity of the NPP in the constituency could be the trump card for him. Added to that is the Bannerman family name, which is seen as an intellectual pillar in the constituency, if not in Ghana.
Already he has started pulling stitches out of Mr Vanderpuye’s dream of retaining his seat, insisting that the MP has failed to fulfil his promises, including the improvement of the landing sites for fishermen, but Mr Vandepuye has dismissed the claims.
As if to build a sports clout among the electorate, Mr Bannerman in April launched a card-playing competition to unite his constituents and also help discard the notion that his constituency was among the violent ones in the country.
Rev. William Larbi, aka Stopper One
Not much is known about the political credentials of the PPP candidate but if his nickname, Stopper One, is anything to go by, then perhaps, he may be the first candidate outside the perennial ‘race of two’ to stop the NDC and the NPP in their tracks.
With four months to the elections, the other parties, including the CPP and PNC, are yet to elect candidates for the November polls.
From the trend and figures, the parliamentary candidates who win the Odododiodoo seat tend to do better than their presidential candidates. It was only in 1996 and 2008 that former President Jerry John Rawlings and Professor J.E.A. Mills respectively performed better than their parliamentary candidates.
The only time the NPP won the seat (in 2000), it performed better than the NDC candidate by 2,188 votes. Former President J.A. Kufuor won the election in the constituency in that year with 4,961 votes.
Although the NDC won in the last election, Mr Vanderpuye performed better than President John Dramani Mahama. While the MP beat his opponent with 19,688 votes, the President beat the NPP Presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo with 18,508 votes, representing 1,180 votes difference.
The NDC’s worst performance in the constituency was in 2000 when its votes decreased by 6,198 in the presidential elections and 4,961 in the parliamentary polls from what it had in 1996. The NPP’s worst performance was in 2012 when its votes appreciated by 774 votes in the parliamentary race and 1,201 votes in the presidential polls but it lost the parliamentary polls by 19,688 votes and the presidential election by 18,508.
In 2008 when the NDC added 47 votes to the figures it had in 2004 in the presidential election, the NPP’s votes in 2008 decreased by 6,200.
As the nation prepares for this year’s election, the question is can the NPP wrest this seat from the NDC? Does the NPP have the
plan and the men to drown the almost 20,000 votes and pull out victory from the jaws of defeat if the statistics are anything to go by? November 7 will decide.