Even before the dust settles on the outcome of the landmark election petition, serious and intense jockeying for various positions have begun in the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), with virtually every single slot up for grabs. Interestingly, the position of National Chairman is attracting more attention.
It all began after the nine-member Supreme Court justices ruled against the petitioners in the case; the party’s Presidential candidate in the 2012 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and NPP National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.
Barely a week after the ruling, names of individuals, likely to contest the various positions including those for the flagbearership position, have started popping up with the names of Nana Addo and Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen still high up on the cards.
However, Alan is said to be carefully weighing his options, especially if Nana Addo would be contesting with an indication that he would throw his weight behind him.
NPP General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John, has openly stated emphatically that Akufo-Addo would contest the 2016 presidential elections come what may ‘even if he is sitting in a wheel chair.’
It is also not clear if Alan would contest with the emergence of former Health Minister, Dr Richard Anane, since the two are considered to be coming from the same stable and also the fact that he is reported to have pledged not to run if Akufo-Addo happens to be in the race.
Dr Anane, MP for Nhyiaso, who has dominated the airwaves in the past days, had been a big time sponsor of Alan, but now says people are beckoning him to stand for the presidency.
Other names that have since popped up as likely contenders include head of the security committee of Akufo-Addo’s 2012 Campaign Team, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, former Attorney General and current second deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Ghartey, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (GCB) and MP for Subin, Isaac Osei, former Deputy Trade Minister and MP for Asuogyaman, Kofi Osei Ameyaw.
Dr Anane took the entire nation by storm on Monday jumping from one radio station to another claiming he had come under intense pressure from the rank and file of the party to vie for the flagbearership position of the NPP. This has raised the tempo of the game to another level.
The development has prompted concerns in the party with many wondering what could have compelled Dr Anane to stick his neck out this early since the party needed to elect executives to run the affairs at various levels before electing a presidential candidate later next year.
Pressure has been mounting on Nana Akufo-Addo from not just the grassroots members of the party but members at the constituency, regional and national levels of the NPP to seek re-election for the flagbearership position.
Some of these executives and party footsoldiers trooped to his Nima residence to urge him on until he recently left the country for the United Kingdom where he is going to cool off for the next couple of months.
Although he has not stated his position, Nana Akufo-Addo has equally not turned a deaf ear to the calls on him since he has indicated his preparedness to seek the face of God in arriving at a concrete decision.
Some have already started reading meaning into Nana Addo’s decision to cede his ‘thank you’ tour to Dr Bawumia; suggesting he was using that as an opportunity for his running mate in the previous elections to market himself and run since he may not seek re-election because of age. People have already ruled out the age factor, suggesting that Ghana needs quality leadership not an amateur.
People eyeing national positions have also started intense lobbying among the rank and file of the NPP in order to win their hearts ahead of the party’s national congress, which is likely to be held sometime March next year.
Chief among the names that are in the air as those likely to contest the Chairmanship position of the NPP are that of Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the incumbent, his 1st Vice Chairman, Fred Oware and former Attorney General and parliamentary candidate for Krowor (Nungua), Joseph Nii Ayikoi Otoo.
Also in contention for the chairmanship position is NPP former 1st Vice Chairman, Stephen Ntim, who contested but lost to Jake in the previous congress and former Greater Accra regional Chairman of the party, Sammy Crabbe.
It is not clear if Jake would cede his position to Fred Oware or the latter would step down for Jake. Mr Oware is said to have told Jake about his desire to go for the top position.
Paul Afoko, a staunch supporter of Alan Cash, is also interested in the chairmanship slot with rebranding as his message.
Stephen Asamoah Boateng, who has also been making noise in the airwaves, is said to be the campaign manager for Mr Afoko.
There also seems to be a hot race for Sir John’s position as party General Secretary.
Lawyer Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, who prides himself as ‘the only Sir in Ghana’s politics,’ has already given indications he would seek re-election. However, he is likely to face stiff competition from Lawyer Yaw Buaben Asamoa popularly called YB.
Former Presidential Press Secretary in the Kufuor administration, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong and Boniface Abubakar Saddique, former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Dr Obeng Buasia, former Ghana’s Consul General in New York are names which have also come up as those likely to bid for the position of NPP General Secretary.
Indeed a support group has emerged to drum up support for Kwabena Agyei Agyepong.
Some have suggested that Yaw Buaben Asamoa will step down for Sir John to have a smooth sailing.
Kwabena Agyepong supported Yaw Buaben in 2009 at the NPP congress against Sir John.
Sir John seems to draw a lot of support from the grassroots and a section of the middle class in the party with his style of politics and his human relations.
But it appears his style does not appeal to the upper class and the power brokers, some of who want him out.
Others have also had cause to complain about Kwabena Agyepong’s human relations.
They are also doubtful about his ability to occupy the position in spite of his good communication skills.
Party members have had cause to grumble about the output of the current occupant of the position of National Organiser, Alhaji Moctar Musa Bamba.
It appears he may likely not be the one to hold the position after congress since many are hoping to see his exit even though he has not indicated whether or not he would seek re-election.
Bamba’s position is being chased by the likes of Anthony Abayifaa Karbo, former National Youth Organiser and John Boadu, who once held the position of Youth Organiser and that of Hopeson Adorye of the Young Patriots fame.
Karbo resigned his position as Youth Organiser to contest the Lawra parliamentary seat in the 2012 elections while John Boadu has been a vociferous member of the party’s communications team as a Deputy Director.
Hopeson has equally made some mark for himself as a member of the communications team, representing the party on various political talk shows on radio.
With Karbo not showing any interest in coming back for his former position, the contest for the Youth Organiser becomes an open one.
Some had penciled Sammi Awuku, one of the NPP’s Deputy Directors of communication, to run for the position.
Although he has not shown any keen interest in the position, Awuku has, however, not ruled himself out.
What is, however, clear is that the likes of Pius Eyonam Hadzide, the party’s Volta Regional Youth Organiser and Emmanuel Attafuah, who was Karbo’s Deputy and now Acting National Youth Organiser are all gunning for the position while Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser, Gideon Buako, is said to have also whispered into the ears of people about his intentions to contest.
The name of David Asante of pressure group ‘Let My Vote Count Alliance’ and that of Evans Nimako, a Research and Policy analyst of the party have also emerged as possible contestants for the Youth Organiser’s position.
Most of these potential aspirants, however, seem to see Awuku as the biggest threat to their chances in case he opts to contest in view of the niche he has carved for himself over the years as an effective communicator and his popularity among the rank and file of the party.
Otiko Afisa Djaba’s position as Women’s Organiser also seems to be seriously under threat.
The name of Catherine Afeku, the former Member of Parliament for Evalue-Gwira, is likely to be in the game for a contest that promises to be interesting.
She seems to enjoy a lot of support from the various women groups in the party.
The name of Tina Mensah, one of Otiko’s Deputy Women’s Organiser is also being speculated as a likely contender for the position.
It is, however, not clear if she would stick her neck out for the prize.
What is, however, clear is that the positions of 1st and 2nd Vice chairpersons, which are currently being occupied by Fred Oware and Alhaji T.B Damba, is not receiving attention as much as the others.
The same goes for the position of National Treasurer which is currently occupied by Madam Esther Ofori, Co-ordinator of Nasara Club, which is also occupied by Abubakar Suleiman otherwise known as Laku Laku.
More names are, however, expected to come up in the comings days as the race heats up, generating a lot of interest.