Ahead of Ghana’s September 1 district level elections, several female aspirants in the northern part of the country are poised to win their bids. According to them, despite the heavy blow to their campaign as a result of the cancellation of the elections in March this year, they still stand a better chance of winning and are not resting on their oars.
“The cancellation really affected us; because a lot of us had put in a lot of resources – financial, time and human; we campaigned in many communities within our electoral areas only to hear the news that the elections had been cancelled. Some of my colleagues were really demoralized but thank God we are bouncing back and we will make it,” said Hon. Hajia Issah Zelia, incumbent aspirant for the Sagnerigu electoral area in the Northern region.
The women expressed the optimism when the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) brought together 25 female aspirants in this year’s district-level elections to a Refresher Training in Tamale on “Crafting Winnable Campaign Messages and Communicating effectively with the media”. The female aspirants – made up of first timers and incumbents were drawn from 25 districts in the Upper-East, Upper-West and Northern regions of Ghana, to reflect, restrategise, share experiences and improve their skills in crafting winnable campaign messages aimed at convincing voters in their communities.
Last year, the MFWA in collaboration with FOSDA and IBIS-Ghana trained 60 female aspirants from 60 districts across the three northern regions of Ghana on “Effective Media Engagement skills, confidence building and Networking”. Local radio stations within the selected districts were later financially supported to produce specific programmes (personality profiles, interviews, documentaries and features) to boost the visibility of the female aspirants ahead of the elections.
“Last year’s training was very helpful; Might FM in Savelugu after the training invited me several times to the studio to speak about my work and plans for my community when elected; it made people to hear about me” –said Abdul Rahaman Zenabu Rosina of Jegung electoral area in the Salvelugu-Nanton district. Another participant contesting in the Bongo-Tongo Wakii electoral area, Beatrice Adongo said “even though I was contesting in my area, many people did not know about it. But my continuous appearance on A1 Radio in Bolga made me more popular. People would sometimes call my family to listen because their daughter is on radio”
Adam Mariama from Yendi said “even though our opponents used the phone-in segment on the radio programmes to sometimes malign us, the radio visibility has been very good for us because other people also called in to encourage and compliment us”.
The Refresher training took participants through topics such as how to identify the focus of their campaign, the target groups and how to identify and communicate their best-selling points effectively. Each participant at the hand-on session brainstormed and developed brief campaign messages. They later took turns to present their messages to an audience of journalists, colleague aspirants and some civil society representatives for review and feedback.
Madam Abu Zina is contesting the Pusuga electoral area in the Northern region for the third time. She engaged actively in the practical sessions on crafting winnable campaign messages and was overly excited as she took her turn at delivering her campaign messages to the audience. “I was very happy to participate in the training; the feedback I received from the audience is good for me; I have learnt to engage the media better and also plan my campaign messages to be more convincing. I am very hopeful of my chances.”