Who chairs NPP for 2016?
In all the primaries leading to the national delegates conference of the New Patriotic Party on March 1, 2014, one can predict that the position of the national chairman of the party would be fiercely contested.
With barely 29 days to the close to 6,000-delegate conference, the sheer weight of such an array of formidable ensemble of party heavyweights contesting the national chairmanship is a clear signal that the party intends to leave nothing to chance come the 2016 elections.
The political anxiety within the NPP surged to the fore on Wednesday, when five prominent members of the party picked their nomination forms to contest the national chairmanship position of the party on their own strength and merit.
They are incumbent National Chairman, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey, first National Vice Chairman, Mr Fred Oware, a former first National Vice Chairman of the party, Mr Stephen Ntim, Mr Paul Afoko and Prof. Mike Oquaye Snr, all high profile members of the party.
With the battle lines drawn for the national chairmanship contest, all the aspirants have intensified their campaigns to win the hearts and minds of delegates who would decide who heads the NPP national secretariat.
The aspirants, in separate chats with the Daily Graphic, all pledged not to lend themselves to any perceived faction and are determined to work hard to help the NPP to annex political power in 2016.
Nevertheless, while the aspirants have played down the issue of factions or alliance within the party and insisted on competing on their own accord, political pundits have linked many of the aspirants to one or another faction in the party.
Mr Obetsebi Lamptey is trumpeting his track record and experience within the politics of the NPP. Among other things, he is also drawing his strength from the vital role he played during the eight-months of the 2012 election petition trial at the Supreme Court.
The NPP incumbent chairman, the 2012 presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his running mate Dr Mahamadu Bawumia were the three petitioners in the Supreme Court seeking the annulment of 3,931,339 votes cast in 10,119 polling stations across the country because of what they termed gross and widespread irregularities of over-voting, persons voting without undergoing biometric verification, some presiding officers not signing pink sheets (statement of poll and declaration of results form for the office of President) and some pink sheets having duplicate serial numbers.
Mr Paul Afoko, who is deeply rooted in party traditions and has attained a high profile party status from northern Ghana, told the Daily Graphic that he was an independent-minded person who would work in the total interest of the party.
Many political watchers have argued that it was time the NPP kept faith with members from the northern part of the country who aspired to contest national offices. That, they believed, would give the party a new image and brand.
In their view, Mr Afoko represented such a fresh change and breather if given the chance to chair the party.
Mr Afoko said the party needed re-branding to correct the perception by its political opponents that it was as an elitist and ethnic-based party. Such re-branding,if done well, will woo more members to wrest power from the ruling National Democratic Congress in the 2016 general election.
Mr Afoko, an oil magnate, real estate developer and farmer, said he would initiate a “New Plan for Power” architecture by introducing systems and far-reaching structures to invigorate the party.
He pledged to close the gap between the party and its rank and forge partnership with all, especially through structures that broadened the political space for easy engagement.
According to Mr Oware, his key objective was to bring to the leadership of the party unique abilities to pull everyone to the centre.
That, he explained, would mean strengthening, energising and resourcing the entire party structure, particularly at the constituency and polling-station levels to function effectively.
For the past four years, the first vice national chairman said he had actively raised resources and logistics for the party, having travelled to every corner of the country pursuing the party’s interest.
“The experience and contacts made in the electoral industry is too valuable to allow them to go to waste,” he told the Daily Graphic.
On what he was bringing to bear on the fortunes of the party, Mr Oware declared, “I bring to NPP a pair of safe, matured and experienced hands that everyone can trust. I am open and shall give access and hearing to the grass roots but would continue to be firm in the interest of the party.”
Mr Ntim, who contested the National chairmanship in 2005 and lost to Mr Peter Mac Manu, is a dye-in-the-wool NPP member. He also pointed out his requisite experience to steer the affairs of the party to win power in 2016.
He noted that the forthcoming elections was an intra-party contest, and that when it was over, all the contestants would have to come together to work in tandem to ensure victory for the party in the 2016 elections.
Mr Ntim said he would also strive to ensure that the politics of insult was eradicated within the party, and work with leaders of the other political parties in an effort to stamp out that culture of insult in the body politic of the country.
Mr Ntim, a system engineer, said the hallmark of his administration would be the infusion of technology such as Internet into the activities of the party to prevent any underhand technological manoeuvres from any quarters that could potentially affect their chances of winning the 2016 elections.
With Prof. Ocquaye, an astute NPP politician and former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, enriching the lineup at the last minute, an exciting contest is anticipated.
Already, the party has rolled out a road map for party elections which would be climaxed with the election of the party’s presidential candidate for the 2016 election later this year.
The party opened nominations on Monday, January 27, 2014 for persons interested in contesting the positions.
Forty-six members of the party picked nomination forms at the close of nomination on January 29, 2014.
Positions being contested
The 10 positions up for grabs at the national level include the national chairman, first, second and third national vice chairpersons, general secretary, national organiser, national women’s organiser, national treasurer, national youth organiser and Nasara co-ordinator.
From February 7 to 10, all the aspirants are expected to file their nomination forms for vetting to take place from February 12 and 13.
March 1, 2014, will be the election day in all the 10 regions of Ghana.
Other national executive members would be appointed to complement the work of the elected national officers in a strategic way to prosecute the party’s political agenda.
The party successfully conducted its polling station, constituency and regional elections on Saturday, January, 25, 2014.
The close to 6000 delegates list for the national elections include all the party’s parliamentarians, all national executive committee members, all constituency executive Committee members, 15 members of Council of Elders, 12 delegates from external branches,members of National Council, one TESCON representative each from recognised tertiary institutions,and all living founder members of the party.