Two-time flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Thursday announced that he would contest the party’s ticket for the 2016 presidential election, with the declaration: “We have an unfinished business and I am ready to go back to work.”
“I feel physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and patriotically strong enough to remain in frontline politics,” he told journalists during a news conference at his Nima residence in Accra.
The news conference was overwhelmed by party faithful who received his message with a deafening applause that must have reverberated far and near.
He said there had been a unanimous call on him to remain in frontline politics, adding, “In spite of all the disappointments of these few years, I cannot ignore these calls.”
Flanked by his wife, Rebecca; his running mate in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and wife, Samira, and with the unflinching support of some current and former NPP members of Parliament (MPs) and ministers of state, Nana Akufo-Addo said he would be ready to lead the NPP when it opened nominations for the flag-bearer position later this year.
Nana Akufo-Addo, who turns 70 on March 29, 2014, may go into a third presidential election in 2016 at age 72 and his opponents have promptly flagged the question of his age for political gain.
But in his unwavering conviction and commitment to become President of Ghana after more than 40 years of political activism, Nana Akufo-Addo said in his characteristic firm tone: “I have asked the hard questions about my body, not my age.”
In apparent response to his critics and opponents who had called for his resignation from politics, Nana Akufo-Addo said fortunately, he had chosen two careers which did not have a retiring age – law and politics.
“I’m humbled by the confidence reposed in me and I am profoundly grateful that so many people want me to run even at the young age of 70,” he added.
After the Supreme Court ruling on the election petition on August 29, 2013, Nana Akufo-Addo travelled to London for six months and, according to him, that period of his ‘political vacation’ afforded him the opportunity to deeply reflect on the past and his future political direction.
He said although he would forever regret the fact that he could not lead the NPP into electoral victory in 2008 and also could not secure a Supreme Court verdict for the party in the 2012 election petition, he had decided, after broad consultations with his family, friends and leaders of the NPP, to take a third bite of the cherry.
But even before he formally declared his intention at the news conference, the writing was visible on the wall, as the atmosphere in respect of inscriptions on placards carried by some party supporters, rehashed lyrics of his campaign songs by popular Ghanaian musicians Daddy Lumba, Isaiah Ampong and Diana Asamoah, and the chants of party faithful around all revealed the plot for a third-time bid.
Nana Akufo-Addo expressed gratitude to his supporters that they considered him worthy to lead the nation.
The third-time bid by Nana Akufo-Addo to bear the flag of the NPP and seek the presidency may be informed by many considerations.
First, it may be borne out of the local adage that the Old Lady (held to be the wise one) is consulted three times for success.
Second (to which many NPP supporters would readily point) is the fact that in 2008 Nana Akufo-Addo lost the presidential election to the late Prof J. E. A. Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) by the narrowest of margins ever recorded in the political history of Ghana.
Again, he lost by a whisker of a margin in the 2012 presidential election, as declared by the Electoral Commission but which he won in the eyes of NPP supporters.
Third (a point which many NPP supporters may dismiss as trivial), Nana Akufo-Addo may be taking a cue from the late Prof Mills, who succeeded in winning the presidential election to become President of Ghana after a third-time bid.
Unity for success
Nana Akufo-Addo used his 29-minute speech to also launch a campaign for unity in the NPP to ensure victory in Election 2016, a message that was captured on a big banner at the news conference thus: “Unite for change”.
He urged members of the party not to allow internal competition for positions to be done at the expense of party unity, adding that there was no issue in the party that could not be resolved amicably.
Even as he warmed himself into the much familiar political game after his vacation and prepared to secure the NPP’s ticket for the 2016 presidential election, Nana Akufo-Addo has mapped out a two-pronged strategy to ensure victory in the next election — the NPP has to ensure that it wins majority of votes of the electorate in 2016 and endeavour to protect every single of those votes from the point of casting to their final declaration.
The 2012 NPP flag bearer also shared thoughts on some national issues, including the economy, energy and education, which he believed were in total mess and must be fixed.
He said the government could not continue to blame the energy crisis on an act of God and Nigeria, pointing out that the problem was Ghana-made and must be fixed by Ghanaians.