Alot of things played out in the recentlyheld Assin North by-election which was won by the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) James Gyakye Quayson.
Some of the communities in the constituency which is largely made up of farmers and traders include Assin Bereku, the constituency’s capital, Asempaneye, Endwa, Akonfudi, Aponsie, Gangaa, Assin Kushea and Assin Praso
The development projects that the people enjoyed under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government were the major political campaign messages.
And rightly so, as the 31.2km Assin Praso-Assin Fosu Road recently commissioned by the Vice–President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, which has 18km of it running through the constituency, as well as other road projects that had been undertaken or are ongoing.
There is also the Agenda 111 hospital project which is near completion, an Astroturf, and other infrastructural projects which the NPP believed, and severally stated, should win them the election.
The NDC on the other hand campaigned largely on the fact that the economic situation in the country had worsened under the NPP government, urging the electorate to tell the government by means of the election that they were not happy about it.
While there are a lot of settler communities in Assin North that vote almost en bloc for the NDC irrespective of the candidates, there are also the trivia of the campaign, which was critical to who won or lost.
Gyakye Quayson is said to be from the Assin Bereku royal family.
The Daily Graphic gathered that his mother was once a queenmother at Assin Bereku. His family is known and respectable. For not being a chief, the people of the area could do with him as a Member of Parliament (MP).
The decision to renounce his Canadian citizenship was also another fact that impacted the election.
Some of the electorate were convinced that renouncing a Canadian citizenship could only be done by someone who meant well for the people.
The issue of the LGBTQ and the anti-LGBTQ bill before Parliament also played out greatly in the election.
First, it was the NDC who used it in their campaign, saying that a vote to elect Charles Opoku would give the NPP an advantage to quash the passing of the anti-LGBTQ bill into law.
It worked for the NDC greatly.
The sensitivities of many in the communities were touched. There was no way their votes in any way would go to enhance the practice of LGBTQ activities in the country.
However, the NPP turned that campaign around to a large extent.
The NPP campaign team said Gyakye Quayson, a Canadian, accepted LGBTQ activities and lived in such a country as Canada even before 2020.
Then the issue of who had built a house at Assin Bereku became another campaign message.
Both candidates of the NDC and NPP hail from Assin Bereku, the constituency’s capital that held a lot of the votes.
The NPP told the electorate that Gyakye Quayson was not with them since he did not even have his home at Assin Bereku, the constituency capital, where both Gyakye Quayson and Charles Opoku hail from.
“If he sees himself as coming from here why does he not have a house here?” they queried at the campaign.
The facts, though, are that Gyakye Quayson has a house at nearby Assin Fosu, which is more cosmopolitan and resides in his mother’s house when he visits Bereku.
The NDC would also counter that campaign with the fact that Charles Opoku was not a registered voter in the constituency.
Apparently, Charles Opoku had registered at Tarkwa, where he stays and works.
The NDC queried how a person who did not even vote in the constituency expected to win and represent the constituency in Parliament.
Another blow to the NPP campaign was President Nana Akufo-Addo’s query in a last-minute campaign as to whether the people wanted to vote for someone who would go to jail, which did not augur too well for the party.
That, in many communities, did not go down well with the people who saw it as a dare.
“They say they will jail Gyakye Quayson. We want to vote for him and repeat history by creating another Kwame Nkrumah. We will make sure he wins power from prison,” one of the residents said.
“The President himself says we should vote for James Gyakye Quayson and that is what I did. God used the President to tell us whom to vote for,” another voter said.
An Astro turf at Assin Bereku
The popular danceable song fane fom was the theme song of the NDC’s Gyakye Quayson, who was last on the ballot.
It obviously caught on well with the people and contributed to his popularity and his win.
Age was also critical in the campaign.
The NPP campaigned for the electorate to vote for fresh blood, a younger person with fresh ideas to represent them.
“You can’t vote for anyone to use parliament as his pension,” some of the supporters were heard saying in the days leading to the election.
Money, items sharing
Then there was the money and items sharing, which invariably hurt the incumbent more than the opposition.
While both parties were guilty, it hurt the NPP more because it is the incumbent government.
The electorate saw any money shared from the NPP as the taxpayer’s money and that from the NDC as something to alleviate their plight and their suffering, which they attributed to the NPP government.
No matter how trivial these issues may seem, they impacted the election and influenced who won it.
The MP-elect for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson, said his overwhelming win in the by-election was a rejection of “monecracy.”
He said his win was a reminder to politicians that the conscience of the electorate could not be bought with money.
A section of the 31.2 km Assin Praso-Assin Fosu road
The demeanour of the man whose name arguably has become the most popular was calm even after he was declared the winner.
Quayson won with 17,245 votes, representing 57.56 per cent of the valid votes cast, with the NPP candidate, Charles Opoku, coming second with 12,630 votes, representing 42.15 per cent.
The Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) candidate, Sefenu Bernice Enyonam, got 87 votes, representing 0.29 per cent.
A total of 41,168 electorates were expected to cast their votes in 99 polling stations during the by-election.
The Director of Elections at the Electoral Commission, Dr Serebour Quaicoe, said turnout was more than 50 per cent by midday.
The electorates were excited about choosing an MP.
A community member of Assin Endwa, who only gave his name as Impraim, said the communities were tired of the negative impact the absence of an MP had had on the development of the area.
In all the interviews, the people who wanted Gyakye Quayson would rather not speak.
It was also apparent that Charles Opoku was a great choice for the NPP, as the people had almost no negative comments to say about him.
Some said they wished he was in a different contest at a different time.
For the people of Assin Bereku, it was more difficult. It was a contest between two sons of the land.
The manner in which all the mighty men in the country’s body politic trooped to the constituency to campaign for the votes of the people and the lessons learnt from the election, no matter how trivial, would inform both parties in future elections.