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General News Tue, 1 Aug 2006

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Dan Botwe, Hawa warm up to run

Though it is early days yet, with the congress to elect the presidential candidate for the New Patriotic Party possibly taking place in December 2007, independent information and insider report reaching The Statesman indicate that Dan Botwe, top NPP strategist and Ghana's 'Iron Lady', Hawa Yakubu, have agreed on an electoral pact.

The two are strong allies working quietly on the grounds, with the twin prospect of becoming presidential candidate and running mate for the ruling party for the December 2008 general elections.

The arrangement currently stands thus: Dan for the number one slot and Hawa as his running mate.

Hawa, before her landslide victory as First Vice Chairperson of the NPP, made public her intention to run in the presidential primary. Political analysts were, however, unanimous in their observations, considering her chances then as very slim.

The idea of her teaming up with Yaw Osafo-Maafo was played up, seeming attractive and romantic at the time. But, since his dismissal from government, the former Minister of Education & Sports has been seeing his popularity taking a downward slide.

Mr Botwe, the highly-regarded former General Secretary of the NPP, was until two months ago, considered a very key member of the Osafo-Maafo camp. But, Mr Botwe has since the two men lost their Cabinet positions at the end of April, become bolder in charting a course for his own presidential ambition.

His one Achilles heel has been how to raise the kind of money necessary to be taken seriously as an NPP candidate. Some analysts predict it could take as much as $1 million in total for any of the candidates, from Nkrabea Effah-dartey to Aliu Mahama, to make any meaningful bid for the coveted nomination. But with Hawa Yakubu, one of West Africa's most energetic and well-connected fundraisers, likely to stay on board the Dan boat, his big money problems are likely to ease.

The other but more crucial task, which will be faced by all, is how to convince the party, from the Castle to the constituency level, about one's readiness and suitability for the job.

Dan Botwe, who spent a year in government after a very impressive two terms as NPP General Secretary, has consistently denied interest in contesting for the flagbearership. But, his actions, especially, in the last couple of months only confirm a report in The Statesman in May that he intended to run to lead the NPP as presidential candidate.

His boys in and around the party headquarters, who go by the name Al Qaeda, are at the forefront of pushing Dan's presidential agenda.

Over the years, the two have proven to be strong loyalist to the Danquah-Busia course, after Mrs Hawa Yakubu Ogede became almost a singular opposition voice in Parliament from January 1993 to January 1997.

In May 2002, President John Agyekum Kufuor accepted the resignation of Hawa Yakubu as Minister of Tourism. Though this allowed her to maintain her position as a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, she won great acclaims as one of the most forceful defenders of the NPP within and without the Ghanaian Parliament buildings.

The 48-year-old Dan Botwe is arguably the most visible on the ground of all the potential candidates. This is because of his long services as General Secretary until February 2005.

In 1996, he was the Director of Operations and Research for the NPP. He rose from that position to be elected General Secretary of the party in 1998, a position he held until his appointment as Information Minister in February 2005. Hawa, who is recovering from a major recent operation, made a brave, admirable gesture when she travelled to Juaben to pay her last respect to the late Adu Boahen, first Presidential candidate of the NPP.

Source: Statesman

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