THE EVER-growing list of New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential aspirants is expected to go down to at most four candidates, when the party officially opens nominations to enlist serious contestants for the flagbearship position.Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, NPP Member of Parliament for Asokwa Constituency in Kumasi, says the number is swelling by each passing day because at the moment it's "free talk" for all without any financial commitment.
He believes some will stumble and fall along the way because of their own actions and commentaries, as the party's congress draws closer, as well as the amount of money the NPP will put on the heads of aspirants.
He told The Chronicle in an interview that though the so-called presidential hopefuls of the ruling NPP have articulated their ambition and vision in one way or the other to become the party's torchbearer for the 2008 elections, his personal interaction and observations had revealed that the majority was yet to take any concrete decision until nominations were finally opened and a price tag given.
"What Ghanaians need to know is that, at the moment, everyone is testing the waters. I'm sure a lot more have considered whether the time is right for them or not and majority will simply stumble along the way", MP Jumah, who is also known as Kofi Ghana, disclosed.
"It is obvious some of them will not go far and others want their names out there for future jobs and appointments and not for any serious business."
According to Mr. Jumah, this happens all the time in political strategies and works perfectly for those who engage in such an action.
The NPP firebrand man, nonetheless, failed to name those he considered to be serious contestants among the about 21 presidential hopefuls of the ruling party, indicating that it was still early for him to pinpoint the determined ones.
So far, names like Veep Aliu Mahama; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Foreign Affairs and NEPAD Minister; Messrs Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Water Resources, Works and Housing Minister; Alan Kyeremanteng, Trade Industry and PSI Minister; Yaw Osafo Marfo, MP for Akim-Oda; Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, Defence Minister; Dr. K.K. Apraku, MP for Offinso North; Paapa Owusu Ankomah, Education, Science and Sports Minister; Prof. Frimpong Boateng, Chief Executive of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, among others, have come up for the contest that promises to be a fierce one.
According to Mr. Jumah, one out of the four unnamed persons would be chosen to lead the NPP based on the country's mood at the time and not on whimsical beliefs and commentaries.
Left to the Asokwa MP alone, there is nothing wrong with so many NPP members expressing the desire to take up the topmost position of the party, intimating that the move is good for the party and also brings excitement because for a while, the NPP has had little or no activity at the local levels.
The advent of numerous presidential aspirants in the party and different spokespersons going round the country to first, explain the policies of the government to the local people, is a plus, he noted.
To him, if one looks at it from that angle, it is good for the NPP, which he believes, has become attractive to many, describing the several campaigns being embarked upon by the aspirants as added values.
Kofi Ghana dismissed suggestions that the huge number underscores what some people believe was the cheapening of the presidency by the NPP government.
He argued that each presidential aspirant of the NPP could stand toe to toe with any presidential candidate of all the political parties in the country and wondered why critics could make that allusion.
Mr. Jumah, who spoke at length with The Chronicle, also deflated suggestions in certain circles that NPP presidential hopefuls from the Eastern Region were in league to reach consensus in order to nominate one person for the flagbearer position in the name of what has been christened, "Eastern Block."
According to him, there is nothing like "Eastern Block" in the NPP, arguing that any move in that direction would fall flat due in part to the numerous ethnic groups in the area, unlike the Ashanti Region with one ethnic group.
Narrowing down on Vice-President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the Asokwa MP said he is a legitimate candidate with the biggest advantage ever, compared to all the other aspirants.
Ministers of State, he explained, have to step down from their various positions but he (Veep) will continue to stay on as the country's Vice-President even during the contest proper.
"He is a credible candidate and his good points can make him emerge as the party's choice for the 2008 elections though that is not easy in any way", he added.