Filing of nominations by the contestants for the various national executive positions of the New Patriotic Party ended yesterday, with the candidates for the most coveted position of General Secretary attracting most of the attention in the contest.
Information reaching the New Statesman from the various constituencies across the country indicates that the race for the General Secretary is bound to be the closest yet in the history of the party, with Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, Yaw Buaben Asamoa and Nkrabea Effah-Dartey mounting a spirited challenge to unseat the incumbent Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
So tight is the contest that political pundits are still not sure of who will emerge victorious at the Tamale delegates’ conference slated for April 12.
It is, however, clear that Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John) and Kwabena Agyepong are the frontrunners in this contest, according to delegates spoken to by the paper, even though Yaw Buaben Asamoah cannot be underrated in anyway.
This appears to be confirmed by an online poll dedicated to this contest and setup on “Pollrunner” (www.goin.to/d09c2) for NPP sympathisers and Ghanaians in general to declare their choice as to who should become the next scribe of the NPP.
At the time of going to press yesterday, a total of 691 respondents had cast their vote in this online poll. When asked the question “Who would be the next General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party?” Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie was marginally in the lead, with 253 respondents, representing 36.61%, stating Sir John would emerge victorious.
Close on the heels of Sir John, with 33.28% (230 respondents) of the votes cast, is Kwabena Agyepong. Yaw Buaben Asamoa came in third with 192 votes, representing 27.78% of the votes cast while Capt (Rtd) Nkrabea Effah-Darteh came in fourth with 16 votes, representing 2.31% of votes cast. According to administrators of the poll, it will remain online until April 12, 2014.
But at the same time, what was said to be consistent polls had shown that a significant majority of the NPP supporters in the three northern regions want Kwabena Agyepong to be the party’s next General Secretary.
Karim Naatogmah reports that recent polls conducted by a civil society organization, Strepsil Consults, found that about 50 percent of NPP supporters in the three regions of the north wanted Mr Agyepong to replace the incumbent Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie. About 30 percent of them said Mr Owusu Afriyie should be retained.
Some of them reportedly argued that Mr Agyepong’s pedigree in Ghanaian politics is immeasurable compared to the other candidates.
Mr Agyepong’s popularity amplified when the NPP National Council endorsed his proposal to hold the party’s upcoming national delegates conference in Tamale.
Information from the grounds shows that Mr Agyepong has gained a huge support in the last couple of weeks, as the incumbents fight off criticisms of their tenure. Yet, some pundits believe Sir John remains the man to beat in the contest, anticipating that the extra one month allows him to recover and focus on what makes his candidacy credible
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie was elected as the General Secretary of the NPP at the 2010 delegates’ conference in Kumasi, obtaining a whopping 2,386 votes out of the 3,951 valid votes cast, representing some 60.39%.
The private legal practitioner describes himself as a lead grassroots man who understands the needs and concerns of the masses of the party. He is counting on the support he enjoys among the grassroots to get a renewal of mandate by the party’s delegates.
His core message to the party delegates is that he had been with them all the time, and understands their language as a grassroots person and so can work effectively with them to secure victory for the party in the 2016 elections.
Mr Owusu-Afriyie, who was the campaign manager of Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor in the 2007 presidential primary, led the party’s communication team for the northern sector (Ashanti Region and beyond) in the 2008 presidential election.
Many see his no-nonsense approach as a necessary “repellent” for the ruling NDC’s acerbic General Secretary, Johnson Aseidu Nketia, aka General Mosquito.
Party insiders describe Mr Agyapong as a “true-true party man” who knows the NPP “inside out” and who has a lot to offer.
His assurance to the NPP delegates is that he will be a practical and decisive General Secretary who will take pragmatic steps to win the 2016 general elections, by decentralising the activities of the party.
The leading contender is worried about the current state of the party, and has therefore been assuring the delegates of his plan to ensure that the “party machinery is well-oiled at the polling station level to ensure effective campaign for a resounding victory in the next election.”
Mr Agyepong became the Communications Director of the Akufo-Addo campaign during NPP presidential primary in 1998 and later played a key role in the National Campaign effort for the successful 2000 elections. He was once again nominated as one of the party’s representatives at the strongroom of the EC to monitor election results, a role he played again in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Mr Agyepong, a civil engineer by profession, served as Press Secretary to President Kufuor from 2001 until May 2006, when he resigned from his position. He contested in the 2007 NPP Presidential Primary against Nana Akufo-Addo and Mr Kyeremanten, among others.
Yaw Buaben Asamoa
A legal practitioner and one of the most persuasive and respected communicators of the NPP, this will be the second attempt by Mr Buaben Asamoa is making attempt at the General Secretary position of the party after his first bid in 2009.
Before that, YB served as Spokesperson to the late Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
The aspirant believes he has worked a lot for the party and gained considerable experience to be considered for the General Secretary position.
His core message to the party delegates is “unity to protect the ballots” so that there will be no need to go to the Supreme Court again to challenge results as it happened after the 2012 general elections.
Mr Buaben Asamoa was the initiator and co-founder of Ghana Integrity Initiative and Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition, and also served as consultant to the National Governance Programme in the Office of the President.
He was a convenor of the Danquah/Busia Club on Legon Campus, became the first Secretary of the NPP on Legon Campus, and was a youth representative on the inter-party Joint Action Committee formed after the 1992 general elections.
The one-time deputy minister for Local Government, and later Interior, in the erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP administration, was the first person to launch his “ALERT AND WIN” campaign for the General Secretary position of the NPP.
The thrust of the ‘Alert and Win’ mantra is that it would take extreme alertness and vigilance on the part of the NPP to win the 2016 elections.
The aspiring General Secretary believes the NPP lost both the 2008 and 2012 elections “for lack of alertness.”
“When you look at our track record in office, there was no conceivable reason why for the good of Ghana our party should lose Election 2008 but so painfully we saw power slip from our hands, with less than 40,000 votes, for lack of alertness,” he noted.
Even though some people see him as the obvious underdog in the contest, the retired Army Captain says he is the man to beat for the position.