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The Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who is seriously lobbying delegates to maintain him in the position he inherited after his boss exited prematurely through an acid attack, has declared himself the “President’s Darling Boy” ahead of the April’s polls.
The declaration comes in response to a question Starr News posed to him at a news conference he organised Thursday minutes before he took his turn to face the party’s regional vetting committee in the regional capital, Bolgatanga.
The question was on some recent claims made at a separate press conference by a very furious-looking regional chairmanship aspirant, Alhaji Abdallah Otito Achuliwor, that two party big shots (whose names he declined to mention but whose identities he gave the public a clear clue about) had been vigorously showing to delegates a list of names they said were President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s preferred aspirants in the upcoming regional executive elections.
Obviously, the composition of that so-called list from the President does not favour Alhaji Otito, and the names said to be on it, to some degree, have remained speculative. His fury, the depth from which he had to summon the press to a conference, only shows his inflexible belief in the existence of a list of that sort and the 'two messengers' joining forces with opponents to do a counter-campaign with that 'explosive material'.
The incumbent chairman and members of his campaign team present at the news conference shook their heads strongly in denial of any knowledge of the unsubstantiated list. But the chairman stated with emphasis that he was the ‘apple of the President’s eye’.
“To be sincere with you, as for being the darling boy of the President, it’s yes! I’m the darling boy of the President because I am the incumbent [chair] of the party in the region and we’ve been together during the hard times.
“So, I’m his darling boy. But about what you’re saying— the purported list coming from [the] Flagstaff House (now the Jubilee House) — if not today, I’ve never heard of it. I’ve never heard of that thing at all,” replied Mohammed Murtala Ibrahim with his trademark gap-toothed smile in front of news cameras.
Murtala relishes Campaign Trump Cards
It remains to be seen if Mr. Ibrahim's “Darling boy of the President” statement can invoke any sleepless nights in the tents and camps of his rivals, but the vitality that accompanied the declaration may be worth considering from the onset for both the hopefuls and the ‘doubtfuls’ in the chairmanship race.
As he addressed the press Thursday, he laid claim to some positive strides the party had taken since he, as First Vice Regional Chairman, took over from the late Adams Mahama in May, 2015, and for which he entreated delegates to ask him to continue as substantive chair for another four years.
He also prided himself on restructuring a regional party structure he said was bequeathed to him in “disarray” and blew his trumpet on what everyone present, including the journalists, knew he definitely would mention— the increase of the party’s parliamentary seats from 1 to 3 at the 2016 general elections under his leadership.
“We organised the ‘Adopt a Polling Station’ programme, which was very, very successful. I led the party into the regional elections. I led the first ever fundraising ceremony [for the region] held in Accra. Let’s talk about the popular votes— the presidential votes.
“In the history of the New Patriotic Party, we have never crossed the mark of 30% in this region. But during my tenure of office as Regional Chairman, we have crossed the mark and we have hit 38.99% in the Upper East region,” he added as his credentials and confidence evoked claps from his campaign corps and observers.
We don’t need to Change the Winning Team— Murtala
As his news conference coincided with President Akufo-Addo’s 74th birthday, the ‘darling boy’ spiced the talks with good wishes for his ‘beloved father’.
He also dropped a strong hint of doing what some may consider unimaginable: winning at least 7 of the 15 seats in the stronghold of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2020.
“I’m appealing to all delegates to give me their thumbs and mandate to continue the good work so that in the year 2020 we can hit 50% or more. And we are going to share the number of seats in the Upper East region. We are targeting 8, the worst should be 7 seats, in the Upper East region, which has never happened in the history of the NPP in the region.
“I’m very confident that I’m going to win this election hands down because I worked tirelessly for this party with my subordinates and regional executive committee behind me. I don’t think we need to change the winning team. I stand tall among my contenders,” the chairman stressed as a deeply aroused member of his electioneering crew clapped strongly, gazing at his own palms as they struck each other, and muttered firmly in the background, “This is not a time for trial and error!”
Vetting and the much-awaited balloting of all five regional chairmanship aspirants had been done as of the time of filing this report.
Lawyer Anthony Namoo is number-one on the ballot paper and Alhaji Otito follows with Mr. Ibrahim at number three. Joseph Agongo comes fourth and Filson Awankua takes the fifth slot. With every contender now informed where they fall on the ballot sheet for all the positions, it looks pretty much like the whistle has just been blown from a rooftop for the campaign to now fully begin with no time to spare but with a new message to the 'hospitable' waiting delegates.
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