Two political giants of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Navrongo Central Constituency in the Upper East Region are lacing their boots for a showdown in what promises to be one of the keenest contests in the forthcoming NPP parliamentary primaries.
Barring any hitches, on Saturday, June 20, 2020, the current Upper East Regional Minister, Ms Tangoba Abayage, and the Minister of Aviation and the sitting Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, will slug it out at the local primary.
The constituency is largely considered a swing seat, mainly dominated by the NPP and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Godfrey Abullu of the NDC (1992), independent candidate John Setuni Achuliwor following a by-election (1995), NDC’s Clement Tumfuga Bugase (1996), and then Achuliwor again, this time on NPP’s ticket (2000) came to spice the parliamentary contests in the constituency. Unfortunately, Achuliwor’s tenure was short-lived as he died through a motor accident on January 25, 2003, compelling a by-election which sent Mr Adda to Parliament in 2003.
He went on to win subsequent elections until he was defeated in 2012 by the NDC's Mark Owen Woyongo. Mr Woyongo, however, lost the seat in 2016 to Mr Adda.
Both Ms Abayage and Mr Adda have rich and solid backgrounds and rich experiences in their different career paths.
While Mr Adda has been an MP for about 13 years, his rival comes in with the advantage of ‘incumbency’ in local governance.
Ms Abayage is the first female substantive Regional Minister of the Upper East Region after succeeding Mr Rockson Ayine Bukari in the latter part of 2018.
She has been a gender activist for more than 30 years, serving as the Regional Director of the Department of Gender in the Upper East, Central and Western regions.
She is also a former Ghana Ambassador to Rome, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration (Human Resource Management) from the University of Ghana, Legon.
Between 1998 and 2007, Ms Abayage designed, produced and presented a programme known as “Women in Development” at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation's GBC- URA Radio at Bolgatanga.
Mr Adda, on the other hand, was a Minister of Energy in the NPP government under former President John Ayekum Kufuor.
He is also a financial economist and a management consultant.
Mr Adda worked as an Executive Officer at the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1979. Between 1983 and 1984, he worked as a Research Analyst intern at the Third World Trade Institute, New York, USA.
From 1994, Mr Adda was the Director of Omni Consulting International (Ghana) Limited. Between 1996 and 2000, he worked in various capacities at the Ministry of Finance.
He was appointed the Minister of Manpower Development and Employment by former President Kufuor in 2005. On April 28, 2006, he was moved in a cabinet reshuffle to the position of Minister of Energy. He was later replaced by Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong as Minister of Energy.
In May 2017, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo named Mr Adda as one of the 19 ministers who would form his cabinet.
For one thing, these two political bigwigs have on many platforms articulated their visions right from the time they filed their papers at the close of nominations on Thursday, February 20, 2020.
Mr Adda assured his constituents that his next tenure of office would witness massive development that would transform Navrongo into “a modern city”, saying the foundation had already been laid with the ongoing infrastructural projects.
Ms Abayage, who is affectionately called the “Lioness” by her supporters, stated that her vision included ensuring that the party became stronger at the constituency and at the regional level to prove to the NDC that the NPP was a formidable party.
She, therefore, pledged to unite the party and lead an issue and policy based campaign and not to indulge in the use of foul language just to win an election.
Ms Abayage observed that because of her crave for unity in the party, she continued to meet all executives of the party in the 35 electoral areas of the constituency.
Key watchers of happenings in the constituency have advised both candidates to ensure decorum and to be composed as they went about their respective campaigns in order not to end up giving their political opponents an upper hand in the parliamentary elections in December.