One Touch or Round Two ?
That Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen are the front runners in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flag bearer race is a known fact. Perhaps, what many are not sure of is whether any of the two aspirants can get a clear-cut victory; that is, win more than 50 percent of valid votes cast.
Unfortunately, many of the 'pollsters' and 'prophets' who emerged in 2007 to give all kinds of predictions have gone underground, thereby failing to offer any help. Nana Addo, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Hon Isaac Osei and Mr. John Kwabena Kodua have been putting up arguments on the basis of commitment, popularity/appeal to masses beyond core party supporters, incorruptibility or being unifiers.
Unlike 2007, this year's primaries have been described as a novelty - it is bringing more delegates into the fray than ever before, and most importantly, voting is taking place in all the 230 constituencies across the country instead of the usual one-centre congregation of delegates over a three-day period.
"Each constituency shall represent a unit polling area and polling centre. The National Council of Elders, the National Council, Past National Officers and Representatives of our External Branches shall all vote at the National Headquarters in Asylum Down. All other delegates shall vote in the constituency at which their membership is registered," a statement signed by Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, National Chairman of the NPP, clarified.
When voting commences on Saturday at 8am, almost 113,000 delegates are expected to vote for the candidate of their choice in a contest in which the number of candidates has been reduced to five from 17 in 2007 following sweeping party reforms.
However, it is likely delegates from two of the NPP's best constituencies in the Greater Accra Region will miss the elections. According to the statement by Mr Obetsebi Lamptey, "The election will be conducted in all 230 constituencies except Ablekuma North and Ablekuma South Constituencies where certain outstanding issues are yet to be resolved."
We take a look at some of the qualities of the contenders. Nana Addo, as he is popularly called, describes himself as a true party man, having gone through the mill at various stages. He also prides himself as a champion of freedom and democracy.
Many delegates will cast their votes for him on the basis of his dedication and unalloyed commitment to the cause of the NPP over the years. It is believed he has served the Party with distinction and has the leadership qualities required to win a big electoral challenge in 2012.
Though he failed to edge out President Mills in a two-round presidential contest in 2008, he has promised to truncate a 'traditional' two-term presidency in the life of this Fourth Republic by defeating President Mills.
Alan's trump card is his physical appeal to the masses beyond the confines of the NPP. He is a fine gentleman and younger, having been born on October 3, 1955.
He promises an economic turnaround that will create jobs and put cash in people's pockets. That notwithstanding, many believe it is still not his time. Besides, he needs to overturn a defeat to Nana Addo.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is famous for his exploits at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where he successfully established the cardiothoracic center. He describes himself also as a farmer and industrialist.
He believes that the majority of people in the party consider him as the true and genuine unifier who can bring all the factions in the NPP together to defeat the NDC in 2012. He plays on the acrimony between the supporters of Nana Addo and Mr Kyerematen.
He traces his party roots to the time of his grandfather, who was a member of the United Party (UP), the ancestral party of the NPP, in 1958 and took him to party rallies many times.
Hon. Isaac Osei is considered as humble, God-fearing, affable, charismatic, competent and free from controversies. He is highly rated for his conciliatory position on issues within the party and this is reflected in his addresses and comments which are devoid of vitriolic attacks. He punctuates his speeches with unifying and inspiring comments.
Mr John Kwabena Kodua's campaign has gone largely unnoticed but he is reported to be the only man who has contested the NPP standard bearer position since Ghana's return to multi-party democracy in 1992. This is seen as a mark of endurance, perseverance and tenacity.