Is NPP rushing President Kufuor out of
A GNA feature by Francis Ameyibor
Accra, Sept. 12, Ghanadot/GNA - Ghana's fifth successive presidential
and parliamentary elections under the Fourth Republican
Constitution is about 15 months away and as expected the
various political parties, especially the ruling New
Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National
Democratic Congress (NDC), have activated their
electioneering machine into motion.
As President John Agyekum Kufuor winds down his second and
final four-year term, the NPP is facing a bigger version of
the problem the NDC faced in 1998 as the then President,
Jerry John Rawlings wound down his final four-year term of
At the moment, about 20 leading members of NPP compared to
six in 1998, have indicated their desire to contest for
presidential ticket of the Party for Election 2008, even
though, the Party is yet to formally open nominations on
September 22, 2007.
ARRAY OF ASPIRANTS
The array of aspirants to succeed President Kufuor includes
former Ministers of State, Members of Parliament (MP),
Medical Practitioners, Lawyers, Contractors and Businessmen.
The list includes: Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama; Mr
Daniel Kwaku Botwe, Former Minister of Information and
National Orientation and General Secretary of the Party;
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, MP for Abuakwa and Former
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and New
Partnership For Africa's Development.
Others are Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, MP for Akim Oda and Former
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Education,
Science and Sports; Dr Arthur Kwabena Kennedy, a medical
doctor based in the United States of America; the Reverend
Professor Mike Ocquaye, MP for Dome Kwabenya and Former
Minister of Communications and Energy; Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku,
MP for Ofinso North and Former Minister of Trade and
Industry and President's Special Initiatives; Dr Kwame
Addo-Kufuor, MP for Manhyia and Former Minister of Defence
and Mr Kwabena Adjei Agyepong, Former President’s Spokesman
and Press Secretary.
The rest are Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Heart Surgeon
and Former Chief Executive Officer of Korle-Bu Teaching
Hospital; Captain Nkreabea Effah Dartey (Rtd), MP for
Berekum and Former Deputy Minister of the Interior; Mr Alan
Kyerematen, Former Minister of Trade, Industry and
President’s Special Initiative (PSI); Mr Hackman
Owusu-Agyemang, MP for New Juabeng North and Former Minister
of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Mr Mohammed Musah,
a Former Regional Youth Organiser of the Party.
At the October 24, 1998 National Delegates' Conference of
NPP, the then Candidate Kufuor, who had led the Party into
Election 1996 but lost to Former President Jerry John
Rawlings, again defeated six other leading members to win
the slot to lead the Party for the second time for Elections
The official results declared by the Electoral Commission at
the close of polls gave Candidate Kufuor, 1,286 votes,
representing almost 65 per cent of the total votes cast;
Nana Akufo-Addo had 628 of the votes cast (31 per cent) and
Dr Apraku received 52 votes.
The remaining aspirants, Mr Kwame Kodua, a Lawyer; Mr Malik
Alhassan Yakubu MP for Yendi and current Second Deputy
Speaker of Parliament, and Mr John Henry Mensah, Former
Senior Minister and Former Minority Leader, had eight, seven
and three of the total votes cast, in that order.
Nine votes were rejected and seven delegates did not vote.
Mr Owusu-Agyemang withdrew from the race, a decision he
said, was in response to a call by the Party's supporters
"Although I have met the financial requirements of a
prospective candidate and have all the qualities needed to
lead the Party, I declare my decision to withdraw from the
current race in the interest of consensus building and to
allay the fears of our supporters," he said at the time.
As the clock winds down to the epic Congress on December
22,2007 political analysts GNA spoke to have predicted an
acrimonious electoral campaign as the numerous presidential
aspirants crisscrossed the country to canvass for votes.
THE SELF-DESTRUCT BUTTON
The question many political pundits have asked is: "Will the
NPP press the self-destruct button?" The Ghanaian electorate
and political observers are watching the developments with
The various aspirants have intensified their vigorous
campaigns to woo the delegates to cast their votes in their
favour during the Congress.
The mode of operations includes the formation of "friend
clubs", building clout based on ethnic or class
affiliations, setting up of websites and buying pages in
newspapers and time on the airwaves to sell themselves.
Various leading members have expressed concern about the
campaign format of the aspirants and their supporters, which
seemed to have created personality blocks within the
political family of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition.
ATTITUDE OF SOME ASPIRANTS
In a cautious statement, Professor Al-Hassan Wayo Seini, NPP
Former National Vice Chairman, said for a Party that had the
incumbent President, the attitude of some of the aspirants
and their supporters created the erroneous impression that
President Kufuor was being rushed out of office.
He said: "If all that we hear in both the print and
electronic media are about presidential hopefuls rather than
the achievements of the government, then all that we are
doing is committing suicide long before Election 2008 are
"Yet, any successful candidate in the long run will have to
base his campaign primarily on the success of the government
before making other additions that may border on his own
"My feeling is that for a congress that will certainly be
taking place in December the NPP presidential hopefuls ought
to be patient until the whistle is blown for the kick-off."
Another leading member also expressed similar sentiments
noting that the Party may break up after congress if the
current wave of competition for the presidential candidature
remained unchecked by the National Executives of the party.
Alhaji Issahaku, NPP Constituency Chairman for
Gambaga-Nalerigu in the Northern Region, explained that "not
only are the number of people vying to succeed President
Kufuor too many, but many of them are accomplished
'heavyweights' who command some considerable support and
following in the Party'".
“If all these men think that they are good enough to lead
the nation, then they could be forced to pursue their
ambition with another political vehicle if they fail to win
the NPP slot,” he said.
Another hurdle that the NPP faces is the emergence of
political groupings within the Party whose allegiance hinges
on either ethnic or religious linkages.
During the 1998 contest, the "Group of 15" (G15) emerged
from the Nana Akufo-Addo camp, which many perceived as anti-Kufuor
and against any other aspirant, a claim Nana Akufo-Addo
He explained that the formation of the G15 was not to create
rancour and division in the rank and file of the Party but
to help to solve the financial problems confronting the
Party at the time.
With the activities of the Groups, according to Prof.
Frimpong-Boateng, presidential aspirants, risked polarising
the Party, stressing that their continuous existence was not
in the best interest of the Party as far as the Elections
2008 was concerned.
Dr Kwame Amoako Tuffuor, a member of the National Council of
Elders, considers this as a dangerous phenomenon, saying the
agenda of these groupings should be focused rather in the
direction of the Party and not individuals.
He said emergence of the groupings presupposed that
something had created a vacuum in the political system of
the Party and suggested that the Party hierarchy should
create directions for the groups.
Another school of thought, however, sees the emerging
development as good omen for the Party as it has generated
interest and also confirmed the NPP as the doyen of Ghana's
Mr Akenten Appiah-Menka, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of
the Council of Elders of the Party said: "I see nothing
wrong with the increasing number of aspirants jockeying for
the party's 2008 flag bearership, since the Party believes
and practises the principles of democracy.
"I admit that at the end of the day just a few of them ... I
can vouch that not many can make it to the party's
Mr Appiah-Menkah debunked speculations that too many
aspirants would produce a non-credible and non-popular
Some political economists have estimated that the various
aspirants need approximately 20 billion cedis to be able to
launch an effective bid for the presidential slot of the
While it may be argued that this could be unhealthy for
Ghanaian politics, the counter argument is that if you could
not raise billions of cedis to contest for the elections how
can anyone convince the whole nation to vote for him or her
as presidential candidate.
It is about time the NPP pooled resources to become a
formidable contender in the race to the “Flagstaff House”.
Already, Mr Owusu-Agyemang has donated a club house in Accra
to the Party while Nana Akufo-Addo has slotted in 243
motorbikes among others who have elected to pay for the
running on the Party at the regional and constituency
NPP's political tradition, the Danquah-Busia-Dombo ideology,
has been in the opposition for about 30 years, after losing
power in 1972 through a coup d'état led by General Kutu
Acheampong that overthrew the Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s
Progress Party Government.
To the credit of the NPP's political tradition, the
Danquah-Busia kept its unity, no matter how fragile until
1979, when it split into two - the Popular Front Party (PFP)
and the United National Convention (UNC), which led to their
defeat by the Nkrumaists’ People's National Party (PNP) of
Dr Hilla Limann.
The Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition learnt from its electoral
defeat of 1979 and when the ban on party politics was lifted
in 1992, the NPP was formed from the amalgamation of the
remnants of PFP and UNC.
It is the hope of this Writer that December 22, 2007 would
come and go and leave the NPP intact and those who would
lose would quickly lick up their wounds, mend fences and
join forces with the winner to accomplish the task of
retaining political power.