Protests broke out on Tuesday at Winkogo, a key electoral area in the Talensi District, 24 hours before President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s timetabled tour of the Upper East Region.
The protests were staged by the community members of Goriko, an integral suburb of Winkogo, where the now-governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) organised its last rally whilst in opposition ahead of the eventful Talensi by-election in 2015.
In fact, polls watchers have always said Winkogo is to the Talensi Constituency what Florida is to America in the light of electoral importance. The Tuesday’s protests had the agitators threaten to ban all political parties from campaigning in the area ahead of the December 7 general elections if their demand was not met in seven days.
The protests were provoked by three core issues: Goriko has not had electricity since it came into being centuries ago; a project initiated by government to connect the community to the national grid has been abandoned since 2016; yet the same abandoned project has been deceitfully declared to have been completed in a document sighted by the community.
The protesters were wearing blood-red bands and vehemently showing placards to news cameras as they chanted in unison and repeatedly: “No electricity, no vote!”
The Goriko Youth Association convened a news conference on the same day, with the Chief of Winkogo and both the immediate-past and the current assemblymen of the electoral area in attendance.
According to the association’s narrative, the contract was awarded to the E.K. Asare Enterprise under the government’s Self-Help Electrification Programme (SHEP). Work was in progress until the project came to a standstill in the last quarter of 2016. When asked why the execution was halted, the contractor said government failed to provide him with some “high-tension poles, wiring cables and stays” required to complete the job. Then, he told members of the community to get involved in a monthly meeting held by contractors at the conference room of the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) in the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga, so that they could verify his claims there.
As representatives of the community attended the contractors’ meetings, they eventually discovered a copy of minutes taken in a meeting held on Thursday 31st May, 2018, stating that the electrification project at Goriko had been completed and was awaiting commissioning. The community’s representatives left the meeting, shell-shocked as the project in question actually was yet far from completed and had remained abandoned.
“The assertion in their minutes is rather on the contrary, misleading and does not conform to the reality,” the association remarked in a statement read by its Chairman, Abugre Stephen Ategebire, at Tuesday’s news conference.
The statement continued: “Again, we proceeded to the [Talensi] District Assembly to either confirm such information on the minutes or prove otherwise. Then and there, the current DCE, Dr Boatbil Christopher, showed us a document with information not different from what we intercepted in the minutes. Based on the information gathered, we the community have the suspicions that the project has been abandoned and will not be continued.”
A community in grief over four evils
The depth of the wrath in the hearts of the agitators could be felt in the heavy sound of their feet as they tramped around places where the contractor had planted electricity poles and left them to waste away in their holes.