The New Patriotic Party (NPP) “must win” the 2016 elections “at all costs,” Alan Kyeremanteng, the party’s twice-defeated flagbearer aspirant has said.
Touting himself as the best candidate to win power for the NPP in the next elections, Mr. Kyeremanteng told the NPP’s New York Chapter on Friday that “the thought of losing” the next Presidential election was “frightening” and “difficult to contemplate.
The former Ghana Ambassador to the United States of America under John Kufuor’s reign as President is in the American city on what he called “a short visit”. Over the weekend, he used his visit to the US to canvass for votes among party loyalists and potential delegates in New York ahead of the NPP’s presidential primary.
Mr. Kyeremanteng lost his first NPP flagbearership race to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2007. In 2010, Mr. Kyeremanteng again lost the NPP presidential primary to Nana Akufo-Addo. Ahead of the 2016 elections, the two men, including at least five other party heavyweights, have announced plans to run for the party’s presidential ticket.
Addressing party loyalists over the weekend, Mr. Kyremanteng said party delegates must give him victory in the next presidential primary elections or risk losing the 2016 elections.
“I believe that our main focus as true genuine NPP members should be one thing –– how do we get back into power in 2016,” Mr. Kyeremanteng, who turns 59 in October this year, declared. “For me this must be our overriding objective.”
He went on, “Whatever it takes for us to get into power in 2016; that is what we ought to do. And I am saying at all costs because the thought of not being in power in 2016 is so frightening that it is difficult to contemplate”.
But, he said, getting back into power will “require two things”. First, “we need to fix our” party, he said. Secondly, “we need to choose a leader that will restore us to power”.
According to the former Minister of Trade and Industry under President John Kufuor’s rule, “The first is a necessary condition but is not a sufficient condition. But if we have to fix our party… we have to make sure we mobilize the grassroots to be at the center of our campaign… If you don’t have an effective grassroots machine it is very difficult to win power”.
“Secondly, we need to work as a united family,” he said. “I believe what you hear or see in print may not be as frightening as what is on the ground. I am sure most of you may not know this, but I have a very good relationship with Nana Akufo Addo… [And] we still maintain that relationship and I believe we will continue to do that”.
In calling for unity among the grassroots of the NPP in Ghana and around the world, Mr. Kyeremanteng said, “It is our challenge for all those who will be competing for leadership to make sure that we translate this brotherliness to our supporters on the ground. I think that is where the problem [is].”
“If we fix the party, I still believe that we need to be able to elect a candidate who the people of Ghana will vote because it is all about power; any other consideration must be secondary,” he stated.
After years in opposition, the NPP led by John Kufuor formed a government in 2001 after winning Ghana’s national elections. In 2004, Ghanaians re-elected the NPP for another four-year term. In 2009, however, the NPP led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lost power to Professor John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress, Ghana’s largest opposition at the time. Again, in 2012, Akufo-Addo led the NPP to another election defeat.
According to Mr. Kyeremanteng, the NPP cannot afford to lose the next national elections and that the time has come for the party to give Ghanaian voters a new presidential candidate instead of repeating Nana Addo as its flagbearer.
“I want to be very upfront…I think that we have our own senior brother, Nana Akufo-Addo. He’s represented the party very well on two previous occasions. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it’s not been possible for us to get into power. I think that we must explore other opportunities and that is why I will be putting myself up as a candidate when the nominations open and I am here to seek your support,” he said.
Mr. Kyeremanteng said the NPP lost the last two elections largely because of two main factors– apathetic party grassroots and swing voters who did not vote NPP.
“The challenge that we have is not convincing our core voters in the party,” he explained. “… Almost invariably you can imagine that if everything goes well, you can expect that our core voters will vote for us. The difference lays in how we convince the swing voters…”
“Let us try to understand the psychology of these swing voters…” he explained. “They are swing voters because there are not aligned necessarily to any party. When you want to deal with a floating voter, you’ve got to understand his psychology and almost invariably it is a question of this is the man I want… The advantage that I have is that I have an appeal, somehow, to these floating voters.”
“We have a margin of between 300 and 500,000 people who always decide the final vote and so I ask for your support because if indeed we can all work together to put me as the next flagbearer, I can assure you that 2016 we’ll be back in power,” he said to a rousing applause from his audience.
In April this year, NPP delegates elected a new national leadership to run the party for the next four years. However, the party is yet to announce the date for its national congress to elect a presidential nominee for the 2016 national elections.