The religion card will not be as significant in who gets elected to represent the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) as the latter party’s Presidential Candidate in the 2024 General Election, contrary to what the locally renowned Election Watcher Mr. Ben Ephson would have the general Ghanaian public believe (See “NPP Will Play the Religious[sic] Card in Presidential Contest – Ben Ephson” Ghanaweb.com 10/6/21). Historically, it is the ethnic-minority stronghold establishment of the Jerry John Rawlings-founded main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that has made the Islamic suasion a significant political factor in the country’s general elections. But Muslim candidates being placed at the very top of the NDC’s Presidential Ticket has not been a critical component in the party’s presidential electioneering campaigns.
For the putative Akan-majority founded and controlled New Patriotic Party, on the other hand, the Muslim Factor in the running-mate or number-two spot has been strategically indispensable since anybody can remember. It was only under the Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia-led Progress Party (PP) Westminster system of governance that the Muslim factor does not seem to have played any palpably significant role, although the rural-development agenda of the PP government had been decidedly cross-regionally inclusive. About the only puzzle here, heading into the 2024 Presidential Election, is the alleged “neutrality” of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo vis-à-vis which of the major candidates spoiling for his present post gets the nod or the endorsement of the most internally and factionally antagonized and maligned party stalwart ever to be elected Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party.
The politically catastrophic events of the pre-2008 Presidential Election – actually the post-primary election of 2007 – is highly unlikely to be forgotten in the leadup to the 2024 Presidential Election, especially since two key players from the period are likely to prominently feature in the pre-2024 New Patriotic Party Presidential Primary. And these two key players are, of course, the now Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and Mr. Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, the man who unceremoniously but predictably resigned his membership of the New Patriotic Party, with barely four months to the 2008 Presidential Election. But that former President John Agyekum-Kufuor’s Minister for Trade and Industry and Special Presidential Initiatives had vengefully left the party primarily on account of his decisive defeat in the 2007 Presidential Primary at the hands of the then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, presently President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is highly unlikely to be forgotten or forgiven by both party stalwarts and diehard rank-and-file membership of the New Patriotic Party anytime soon.
Which is why when Mr. Ben Ephson, himself a staunch or diehard member of Ghana’s main opposition National Democratic Congress’ listing of Mr. Kyerematen as the most formidable challenger to Vice-President Bawumia, in the leadup to the NPP’s Presidential Primary, can only be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt. Personally, for reasons that can readily be gleaned from my extensive corpus of writings on the man and his pathologically ethnocentric political temperament and orientation, about all that I can say at this relatively premature juncture is that at best, I can only bring myself to campaign for Mr. Kyerematen only if the latter is fielded as the running-mate of Vice-President Bawumia. But even that would mean quite a lot of convincing and holding my nose for the long-term good or interest of the party and, of course, the greater good and interest of our beloved nation and the Ghanaian people at large.
For me, personally, short of a catastrophic accident, any talk of a Kyerematen Presidency lies at least some eight years from now, Divine Providence willing – my profound apologies to Kwame Gonja, of course. Inasmuch as he has been widely lauded for his yeomanly performance as Food and Agriculture Minister, I sincerely don’t see Dr. Owusu-Afriyie Akoto’s being a fetching or winsome candidate for the Presidency. Not even as a Vice-Presidential Candidate. Dr. Akoto or Afriyie-Akoto does not come off to me as any remarkably inspiring speaker. His general demeanor and temperament, that of insufferable arrogance, has made the banner news headlines in the recent past. He may not be alone or all by himself in this most critical aspect of his public and political profile, but it is still a significant Achilles Heel that cannot be taken for granted if, indeed, the leadership of the New Patriotic Party is really serious about breaking the so-called Eight-Year Governance Jinx.
I also sincerely don’t see Mr. Joseph “Joe” Ghartey, the former Railroad Development Minister, as a formidable presidential candidate at this juncture, although he appears to offer some promise down the pike, as it were. Not very long ago, some rather politically uncomplimentary remarks were widely attributed to Mr. Ghartey by the media that had the effect of seriously undermining whatever remarkable contributions he may be fairly envisaged to brought to bear on the activities and general development of the railroad industry in the country. As for Messrs. Boakye Agyarko and Kofi Konadu Apraku, I prefer to reserve any comments or prognosis for now.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
October 23, 2021
E-mail: [email protected]