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General News
Ministers Plead 6/19/2007
…Grant Us Leave of Absence
President J.A. Kufuor’s master stroke of a summons of at least eight minister-flag-bearer aspirants in his government to the Castle last week to inform them of the option of either staying in his government or resigning within a week to pursue their ambitions for flag-bearership has resulted in a call by at least four of them on him to consider giving them `a leave of absence` to enable them campaign.

The Minister-aspirants who spoke to this paper individually and in separate interviews did not betray any possibility of any prior agreement or a rehearsal to make such a plea to the President whose ultimatum clearly serves as a reminder that in spite of illusion by some persons within the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), the President is not primus inter pares.

In the view of one of the Minister-aspirants, `even though it is too late now and also because this whole thing is a novelty in our politics, even if the President does not heed to the call to grant ministers who are seeking to run for the NPP flagbearer leave of absence; in future we must establish a standard by allowing such appointees to take a leave of absence to campaign.’

`This decision by the President will rob him, the government and the party of some very capable brains. Between us we have some 48 years of working as ministers and that does not come cheap in any society. Ghana, government and the party will be the loser,` another of the affected ministers told this paper.

et another told GO that what the President must do and what future presidents of the country must do is to declare a season of campaign in every election year so that ministers who want the nominations of their party do not have to resign. `We can do with a season of campaign from September-December every election year,’ the affected minister said. GO’s forays into some of the ministries which are headed by some of the minister-aspirants have revealed that at least two of them have started clearing their desks sending clear signals that they will not call the President’s bluff.

When we asked one of them to confirm that he is clearing his desk, his response was clearly equivocal; though he waxed philosophical about the President’s orders.

A secretarial/ administrative staff in one such ministry told GO `our minister is very upset with the President but he also says he knows he was not born to be minister all his life and is thus prepared to go and try his luck in the primaries.` Some of the ministers are also pointing at Vice President Aliu Mahama as the biggest beneficiary of the decision by the President but admit that the constitution clearly favours him under such circumstances as the No.2 man who also acts as their boss in the absence of President Kufuor.

The likes of Yaw Osafo Maafo, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku and Dan Botwe who were earlier dropped by President Kufuor may be smiling and applauding him for acting like a `leveller’ `No comparative advantage to anybody in the race by being a minister. We are all the same,` those three may well be heard to be saying now.

Dr. Apraku has been using his time since he was dropped meaningfully by campaigning and touching base with the people whereas Yaw Osafo Maafo is said to be campaigning in an unsure manner. Some are betting their last cedi on the fact that the former Finance Minister may not run at all.

Dan Botwe is also said to be using his connections and knowledge of the NPP delegate structure to pull a few strings but he comes out as a very courageous person who will have been the first to resign his position as a minister if he were still in the Kufuor government.

Many say Dan Botwe`s relationship with NPP General Secretary Nana Ohene Ntow is anything like that of John Rawlings and John Kufuor or George Bush Jnr and Saddam Hussein (when he was alive) and will not be allowed to use the delegates to advantage by any stretch. Of the `fateful eight, (GO’s description of the guys who were hauled before President Kufuor last week) Alan `Cash` Kyerematen and Nana Akufo-Addo are said to be sizing each other up with the former reportedly telling people that if he is able to beat Nana then he is the successor to President Kufuor.

Nana Akufo-Addo, it is said, knows he is the man to beat because on the field he best represents the NPP`s definition of a consummate politician. His detractors however say he is so confident he is not even campaigning as seriously as some of the other frontliners.

Resourceful Hackman Owusu Agyeman is also on the ground effectively striking the right cords to succeed Kufuor whereas Papa Owusu Ankomah who also even though he joined the race late has succeeded in pushing himself into the front with the mentionof his name sending some of the frontliners into fits of anger.

Enter Dome Kwabenya MP, Prof. Mike Oqauye, who clearly will be in the race to the last drop because he is a fighter and very taciturn and may well spring a surprise using his Indian tactics.

Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey will also not budge and will use his media touch to cause one of the greatest upsets. ine man, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor is also in the race and expected to go the full hog to prove that Philip Kwame Addo Kufuor is clearly different from John Agyekum Kufuor.

Whether President Kufuor will heed this prayer for a grant of leave of absence or not will be known in the days to come.
G. Observer

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