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General News
NPP sets Dec 15 for Prez Nomination 4/16/2007
The date is provisionally set for Saturday, December 15, 2007. The venue is tentatively the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra. There and then about 2,500 members of the New Patriotic Party will gather to elect potentially the next President of the Republic.

In an interview with The Statesman Thursday National Chairman of the NPP, Peter Mac Manu confirmed that the date for the National Congress has been provisionally fixed for “the Middle of December but it would also depend on when the Universities close for the holiday.”

But, the 3rd Vice Chairperson of the party, Abdul Rahman Musa was more emphatic, confirming that the December 15 has been provisionally set. This date is, however, subject to approval by the National Executive Committee of the party.

Nana Ohene Ntow, the NPP General Secretary also told The Statesman that the December date, although far from firmed up, is very likely to be unchallenged. He, however, added that several people, including some aspirants this paper has learnt, continue to urge for an earlier date. What seems very clear is that the December date, supported by both the party chairman and President John Agyekum Kufuor is almost a done deal, subject, of course, to NEC approval.

At the moment, 18 people are expected to file when nominations open on Friday, September 14. Eight Cabinet Members are expected to resign before September ending, after filing their names to contest for the position of the next presidential candidate of the NPP. At least, one such high profile Minister is making plans to vacate his seat in May to spend more quality time with his presidential ambition.

It is furious, competitive and flaming expensive.

Our findings are that, so far all the high profile aspirants have tested enough of the party waters to form an initial opinion of their own chances of success. The Statesman can reveal that from Vice President Aliu Mahama to former Press Secretary Kwabena Agyapong, an average of 70 percent of all 230 constituencies have been intimately covered by all the aspirants and the results have been very revealing for those willing to see beyond the legendary Ghanaian polite Akwaaba that they receive from the party''s constituency executives. One young and initially very optimistic aspirant told The Statesman after visiting 130 constituencies, "I’m a realist."

Another said this week, after completing three regional tours in the last few weeks, "I’m talking to the others to see how we can bring some sanity into this."

A third said, "I’m willing to work with whoever emerges."

A fourth admitted, "My time is more and more occupied by the campaign. Our ministerial duties are very much affected by this and I’m not only in favour of resigning but I intend resigning much sooner than later."

Our intelligence findings are that, with an estimated five months to the nominations being opened, only six of the nineteen names have any realistic chance of putting up some form of a credible contest. Moreover, only four of the six are members of Cabinet.

Again, only four names, out of the 18, are coming up as showing any clear signs of being able to win the contest. Their names are being withheld for now. The numbers, rather than going up significantly are expected to go down to about 12 by August. Eventually, not more than nine are likely to file their nominations, going by this paper’s observations and soundings.

The reality tours check embarked on by the aspirants in the last couple of months have inspired an intense horse-trading among some of the aspirants. At the moment, the strategy is to be seen to be nice to all rivals, while keeping a permanent eye on whose direction the pendulum appears to be swinging. Communication lines are opened and cross-lobbying is on and running. However, attempts to draw ethnic or regional lines around aspirants are proving difficult.

The country’s two biggest regions, with a combined total of 57 constituencies, are from where more than half of the aspirants hail.

The Eastern Region alone is currently presenting six aspirants, Nana Akufo-Addo, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Dan Botwe and, the rank outsider, Boakye Kyerematen Agyarko.

Paapa Owusu-Ankomah even has ethnic claims to Kwahu. Meanwhile, attempts so far by the Eastern Regional Chairman of the party to present some form of united front to delegates have failed.

Ashanti Region is also being represented by Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Kofi Konadu Apraku, Alan Kyerematen, Kwabena Agyapong and Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng. But, there too the competition is stiff, with no signs of compromise. The horse-trading, The Statesman is learning, is based on considerations other than ethnocentricism.

The Statesman can reveal that the first subject of common interest among some Minister-aspirants (a term first coined by The Statesman) was the controversial prospect of having eight Cabinet members resigning for a contest which only one person can win, leaving the President to reconstitute much of his Cabinet for the last important year of his Government.

What is becoming a growing worry for many of the eight Minister-aspirants is the party’s constitutional provision that Ministers, DCEs and the party’s national executives must resign on filing their nominations in September. So far, the dates agreed on by the National Executive Committee remain provisional.

Indeed, there have been calls for a constitutional amendment to change the requirement, and The Statesman can report that yesterday the National Executive of the party held a meeting in Asylum Down, Accra, to discuss issues relating to the selection process - more on this in Monday’s edition.

Though majority of the contestants, who are between the ages of 55 and 65, see this contest as offering their last shot at the presidency, there is also the anxiety of suffering a double whammy – losing your ministerial portfolio only to lose miserably in the NPP National Congress.

This has partly inspired the horse-trading among aspirants. But, beyond that, all the competing camps have, at least, their second choices. Also, there are intense rivalries that go beyond normal competition nuances.

There are some candidates who are never likely to form any electoral pact; who may rather work with others to ensure a particular candidate (or candidates) does (or do) not squeeze through.

To be continued... (More in next Monday’s edition).


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