There is a clamour for the 2016 flag-bearer slot of the New Patriotic Party.
With the official declaration by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2012 presidential candidate of the party, to lead the NPP for the third time into the 2016 polls, many had expected that the intra-party contest for the presidential slot currently underway within the party would abate but interestingly the contrary seems to be the case, as a number of NPP aspirants, both young and old, have rather been emboldened and are lacing their boots to contest the slot.
Indeed, some of the aspirants are so emboldened that notwithstanding any last minute hitches, they are expected to publicly declare their intention before the week ends.
Since Nana Akufo-Addo’s declaration last Thursday, the race for the flag bearer position of the NPP is becoming keener each passing day, as many aspirants are stepping up their campaign bid.
Many have argued that the sheer weight of Nana Akufo-Addo within NPP makes him stand tall among other aspirants. His leadership and political maturity which he showed after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition challenging the outcome of the 2012 elections has endeared him to many Ghanaians.
Indeed, those in favour of Nana Akufo-Addo have touted his popularity and described him as a cult within NPP politics who cannot be pushed over easily. His popularity across the country has also reached an all-time high now. Therefore, it would be easier for the NPP to market him to win more votes to help the party to oust the NDC from power, his supporters claim.
However, others against his candidature are saying that they do not want any “Mugabe” or “Olele” to lead them into the 2016 elections. Nana Akufo-Addo turns 70 on March 29, 2014 and will be 72 years by 2016 when fresh elections are due.
His expected key rival, President John Dramani Mahama, turned 55 on November 29, last year and will be 57 in 2016.
Indeed, Nana Akufo-Addo’s internal competitors, as well as opponents in the governing National Democratic Congress, are playing the age card against the former Attorney General.
As things pan out towards the 2016 polls, will Nana Akufo-Addo be allowed to lead the NPP as its flag bearer unopposed to contest for the highest seat on the land for the third-time running or will he give way to a youthful person?
Alternatively, will the sheer weight of Nana Akufo-Addo compel the names that have so far popped up to chicken out at the last minute, when men must stand up to be counted. With Akufo-Addo’s declaration of intent, now is the time for all interested aspirants to either take the bull by the horn to challenge his ambition, all in a spirit of democracy, or support him to succeed.
Already some of the names circulating within NPP circles and in the media believed to be nursing ambitions to vie for the nomination include Nana Akufo-Addo’s 2012 Campaign Director, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, a former Health Minister, Dr Richard Anane, and twice-defeated flag bearer candidate and former Trade Minister, Alan Kwadjo Kyeremanten. Other names that have popped up are Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng (Asaabee), Mr Joe Ghartey, Second Deputy Speaker, Papa Owusu Ankomah, Mr Isaac Osei, MP for Subin and Ghana’s former High Commissioner to the UK and Ambassador to Ireland; Mr Kofi Osei Ameyaw, MP for Asuogyaman, and Dr Kwabena Frimpong Boateng.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s name comes up so strongly if Nana Akufo-Addo declines to contest the primaries and so is Mr Dan Kweku Botwe. Relatedly, Kofi Jumah has also indicated that if Nana Akufo-Addo had not declared his interest, he would have contested the flag-bearer slot.
Can these aspirants effectively retire Nana Akufo- Addo from active politics?
War of Ideas
Obviously, the war of ideas to win the heart and mind of the party is becoming more intriguing, hotter and fiercer. Already, some people within NPP circles have questioned the rational for Nana Akufo-Addo declaring his political future just three weeks to the national delegates conference of the party. They are of the impression that it could have an impact on the outcome of the conference. But Nana Akufo-Addo’s spokesperson, Mustapha Hamid, has strongly rebutted the assertion, arguing that Nana Akufo-Addo’s opponents are already out there in the field campaigning.
Indeed, the Office of Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku has said the former flag bearer aspirant is unperturbed by the announcement by two-time flag bearer Nana Akufo-Addo, to contest the same ticket again in 2016.
In an interview with XYZ News, Dr Apraku’s aide, Denis Kobina, said his boss was in a better position to win power for the main opposition, New Patriotic Party, in 2016.
Dr Apraku, it will be recalled, directed Nana Akufo-Addo’s campaign in 2012, and now nurses the ambition to run for president on the ticket of the NPP.
Last NPP Congress
During the last NPP Congress, Akufo-Addo garnered more than 80 per cent of the votes. Alan Kyeremanten who is seen by many political watchers as the heir apparent to the leadership slot if Akufo-Addo leaves the scene, got less than 10 per cent. What the two will garner if they should clash again this time around could be anybody’s guess.
From his press conference last week Thursday, the array of NPP bigwigs present were enough indication that Nana had a huge following within the party.
In my candid view, the aspirants whose names have popped up are known personalities, but beyond this, the NPP at this stage needs a strong personality, fully dedicated to the course of the NPP tradition, decisive in character and can stand on his grounds. The NPP needs a strong character who will not be a pushover by any of the power brokers and can also ensure discipline within the ranks of the party.
The NPP candidate must be a self-sufficient leader, a wise person not only from life experience and basic education, but someone more focused to ensure victory for the party in 2016.
The process of who leads the NPP to the 2016 presidential election must not threaten to divide the NPP. The party must exhibit characters of tolerance. Any aspirant who expresses a desire for a change in leadership should not be tagged as enemy of progress. While the party must also tolerate the many party bigwigs and grassroots supporters who have insisted that Nana Akufo-Addo must lead the party for the third time. NPP is a democratic party and must create room for all members.