NPP Flagbearer Race Hots Up As 10 Declare Bids
It appears the decision by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to accommodate a high number of aspirants for the party’s presidential primary in 2008,which largely cost the party’s defeat in the general elections, is about to repeat itself.
The chairman of the party’s Council of Elders, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, in a recentinterview, admitted that the decision to accommodate the 17 aspirants at the time was a “major mistake,” and thatthat incident was partly responsible for the party’s defeat in the 2008 presidential election.
But, presently, more stalwarts of the NPP continue to declare their intention for the flagbearer race to be elected as a successor to President Nana Akufo-Addo, who will be exiting power in January 2025.
So far, The Anchor has counted about10 bigwigs of the party who have come public or are lacing their boots for the big race.
They are theimmediate past Trade and Industry Minister, John Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten;Vice President Dr.MahamuduBawumia,Assin Central MP, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, a former General Secretary, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, former MP for Mampong, Francis Addai-Nimoh.
The others are the former Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto;MP for Essikado-Ketan, Mr. Joe Ghartey; former Minister of Energy, Boakye KyerematengAgyarko; a former Minister of Regional Cooperation and one-time MP for Offinso North, Kofi Konadu Apraku, and an energy expert, Kwadwo NsafoahPoku.
But even before the big election, the party has the first hurdle to surmount by way of downsizing the number of contestants to five candidates. This means that, the party will need to organize a special delegates conference to trim the number.
Aside from the Vice President, Dr.Bawumia, who appears to be the only one yet to come out publicly because of his peculiar position, the rest of his nine competitors have all made public their plans.
Even though he is unable to come out now, his campaign team and supporters are on the ground galvanizing for votes for him.
Interestingly, the party and government are at a crossroads and unable to agree on which date to organize the election.
Last week, the two bodies met at the Alisa Hotel in Accra to discuss a date for the contest, which many had wanted it held later this year. Unfortunately for those who are rooting for that early contest, there was a deadlock.
This paper gathered from the meeting that, while the party wanted an early contest this year, government and for that matter President Akufo-Addo argued for next year.
President Akufo-Addo’s reason, according to reports, is that the election of a new leader will mean that all attention would be shifted from him to the new flagbearer, a development which will not augur well for the smooth running of government.
Many have expressed serious misgivings about this position, because they say it is an attempt by the President to continue to control both the party and the government, even as his time as the leader is coming to a close.
Almost all the presidential hopefuls have hit the ground running with Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten,who resigned from his ministerial position in January,this year, touring and consulting across the country.
Unlike the others, Mr.Kyeremanten is not new to this contest, as this is his fourth consecutive time. He says his decision to contest was borne out of the mounting pressures from the party’s grassroots supporters.
In the past, he contested the now President in 2007, 2010 and 2014, and came second after fierce contests.
Indeed, in the NPP, it is the position of some that, it is time for the former Trade Minister, having always placed second to the President in all the contests in the past.
Little wonder that the paramount chief of the Goaso Traditional Area in the Ahafo Region, Nana AkwasiBosompra I, over the weekend, said that it is the turn of Mr. Kyeremanten to lead the NPP for victory 2024.
According to the traditional ruler, the former minister possesses the qualities of a leader and has been a good servant of the NPP since 1992.
Nana Bosompra said this when Mr. Kyeremanten and his team called on nananom last Friday to announce his bid to contest for the flagbeareship.
Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, another presidential hopeful who declared his intention as far back as last year, is promising Ghanaians that, he will not take salaries when he gets the nod as President.
It is the first time the outspoken parliamentarian, who is serving his last term in the august House, is joining the race. He is tipped as a third force behind Dr.Bawumia and Mr.Kyeremanten.
Indeed, some surveys have pointed to the fact that Mr. Agyapong will do so well in the election that he will be the decider between Dr.Bawumia and Mr.Kyeremanten. He has been on the campaign trail since last year, promising everything he can lay his hand on.
His latest promise is that, if elected as President, he will find the killers of investigative journalist Ahmed Suale and the MP for Abuakwa North, J.B. Danquah, who was gruesomely murdered in cold blood in his East Legon home in 2016.
Interestingly, Mr. Agyapong has been allegedly linked to the deaths of these two persons, even though the police are yet to find their killers.
Then there is one-time General Secretary of the NPP, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, who was removed from his elected position while the party was in opposition. The engineer and sports analyst has also been touring and granting interviews for a while now.
He was allegedly not in good terms with the President, but, ahead of the 2020 general elections, the two were seen together on the campaign trail.
Many had thought that he would be given a big role in the second term of the President, but he continues to sit outside of government. He has been outspoken, criticizing the President and his government, especially his inability to make a major reshuffle of his appointees.
Just last week, the former MP for Mampong,Mr. Addai-Nimoh, who also contested the party’s presidential primaries in 2014, declared his bid.
In a statement, the former legislator said his declaration to lead the party into the 2024 general elections is fueled by three convictions.
The former legislator said preliminary research conducted by his team, coupled with consultation and advice from some elders of the party, psyched himself to bring on board his professional knowledge and values to retain political power.
“I am humbled that my astute team has assessed my qualifications and motivations using some three criteria. Driven by my personal convictions, I am confident that my professional background and values can be useful in shaping the necessary initiatives that will significantly improve our country, coupled with the clarion call I have been receiving over these last years from our party members, rank and file and from wide consultations with elders of the party, I, Addai-Nimoh, I have thereby decided and officially announced my candidacy to be elected as the next flagbearer of the NPP.”
Dr. Afriyie Akoto
Also in the race is the resigned Food and Agriculture Minister. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who is an age mate and very good friend of President Akufo-Addo. He says, as a senior party man, it will be an honour if the delegates elect him.
Under his tenure as a minister, Dr. Akoto implemented several policies, such as Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development, etc.
There is also the MP for the Essikado-Ketan and Minister for Railways and Development, who was part of the party’s race in 2008 and came 3rd behind Nana Addo and Alan Kyerematen respectively.
Joe Ghartey declared his intention to contest the position again in the 2016 general elections.
He filed his nomination papers for the position, along with six other aspirants. There was a Special Delegates Congress on August 31, 2014, by the party to trim the number of aspirants down to five, under the constitution of the NPP.
He was third but chose not to go for the second round and supported the now President Akufo Addo.
An economist and former Minister of Trade and Industry under former President Kufuor, Kofi Konadu Apraku, has also announced his bid, claiming he is the best to lead to achieve the party’s ‘Break the 8’ mantra.
The 68-year-old former MP for the Offinso North constituency has been quiet since the emergence of the Akufo-Addo-led government.
Another stalwart of the party who has announced his candidature is banker, economist and sacked Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko. He was part of the 17 aspirants who contested the flagbearership of NPP in 2007, but polled 19 votes.
The 67-year-old was appointed National Campaign Manager of the NPP in the 2012 presidential election and policy adviser to the NPP flagbearer during the 2016 elections. He is relying on his vast experience as far as the party is concerned to come out as winner of the yet-to-be-held contest.
“I have an excellent record of service to this tradition for over 40 years without blemish to be able to lead this party with a good understanding of its ethos of history and its layout to be able to take it in my hands and nurture it and continue to a fuller maturity,” he said in a recent interview.
Perhaps the youngest of all the presidential aspirants, an energy expert, Kwadwo Nsafoah Poku, has also announced his intention to contest the presidential primary of the NPP.
Mr.Poku said he has harboured the intention to aspire for the presidential candidacy since February, last year and has already engaged the grassroots.
“I think my message with the grassroots is being received gladly across the country,” he said, adding that he will be the youngest aspirant if he files his nomination.
“I am a young guy who has been in business for the past 20 or so years . . . I don’t think I am a politician. I am an entrepreneur,” he said, adding that he has done “practical work” and has “practical knowledge” of how things should work in Ghana.