"One of the longest-serving parliamentarians, Mr Alban Bagbin, says he accepts his so-called "Mugabe" status"
One of the longest-serving parliamentarians, Mr Alban Bagbin, says he accepts his so-called "Mugabe" status in Parliament with pride, declaring: "I am even the Omar Bongo."
He made the declaration after he had submitted his nomination documents to contest the Nadowli-Kaleo parliamentary primary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be held on November 7, 2015.
On a day that signalled his campaign for a seventh term in Parliament, Mr Bagbin said a spontaneous demonstration by his constituents earlier in the week urging him not to quit Parliament had forced him to rescind an earlier decision that he would not be seeking re-election.
Indeed, more than 400 people had followed him to the constituency office where he submitted his documents, with a brass band and a singing army and dancers in attendance, before Mr Bagbin, attired in an all-white designer outfit, addressed a mini-rally.
"I am here today because of the love between the people and me; it is a way of repaying the investment the people have made in my life," he told the media afterwards.
"People say I have served for long, hence the reference to me as ‘Mugabe’, but it also shows how much work I have done over the years. I accept the tag with pride because it shows my experience, having started as a backbencher to reach the current Majority Leader position. I am not ashamed of my profile and longevity in parliamentary service," he said.
Mr Bagbin, who was once in private law practice, is one of a few who have survived the entire period of parliamentary elections in Ghana's Fourth Republic.
But this time he faces at least two competitors — Roger Gaali and David Jawara — from within his own party for the seat.
"I am used to competition for my seat," he said. "Since 1992, I have had serious competition from within the party for the parliamentary candidature, but I have prevailed because of my integrity and performance, both in the constituency and in Parliament."
Last Friday's event may have given an indication of his popularity, but given the weight of competition in terms of the number of opponents in the November 7 primary, it remains to be seen whether what happened was a virtual endorsement of his candidature.
In Jirapa, similar scenes of excitement among the youth were seen when a former MP for the constituency, Dr Francis Bawaana Dakurah, submitted his documents for the parliamentary primary of the NDC.
Dr Dakurah told a packed crowd at the Rev. Fr John McNaulty Hall that he was willing to right the wrongs of the last campaign which led to the NDC losing the seat to an independent candidate.
The sitting MP for Jirapa, Mr Paul Darigoba, ousted Dr Dakurah when he ran as an independent candidate after losing the NDC primary in 2012.
"This seat has always been for the NDC and we are going for it to return the constituency back on track," Dr Dakurah said to wild cheers. "After a smear campaign had stripped us of the seat, I believe people have seen the truth and the difference now."
His ambition faces initial challenge at the primary from Charles Lwanga Puozuing, a practising lawyer, and Vivian Nelly Kunko, the immediate past chief executive for the district.
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