Before The Landslide
Dr Kwabena Adjei, National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress, said the party has now established rules and conventions that would ensure that its vision and mission have precedence over individual ambitions.
The new procedures for the selection of the presidential candidate this year would help deepen the party’s internal democracy, he stated.
Dr. Adjei explained that following the violent incidents at the Koforidua Congress last year, a special investigation committee was set up, but the alleged victims failed to appear before the committee.
The party had therefore decided to leave the matter to rest and focus on its internal organization and not allow itself to be detracted from its objectives.
He said contrary to the perception that the NDC was encountering serious difficulties, 'the NDC is stronger, more robust, agile and credible than before.'
Dr. Adjei asked representativeS of other political parties to see themselves as partners and not enemies.
Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the party, said the credit for the successful organisation of the party should be shared by the foot soldiers and council of elders.
There were solidarity messages Professor Nii Noi Dowuona, the General Secretary of the Convention Peoples (CPP) said his party shared a common vision with the NDC in ensuring political pluralism.
He said such a vision should be devoid of acrimony and bitterness.
Professor Dowuona wished the NDC a successful congress and urged the election of a presidential candidate who can ensure a healthy inter-party dialogue for national development.
John Boadu, National Youth Organiser of the New Patriotic Party, extended the fraternal greetings of President Kufuor and the party to the congress.
He hoped the selection of the presidential candidate would act as a catalyst for inter-party democracy in the country.
Alhaji Ahmed Ramadam, Vice-Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC) urged aspirants to make the interest of the people a key priority.
Hajia Berekisu Shardow, an executive of the National Reform Party (NRP), urged the NDC to put the past behind it and chart a clear future.
Danny Ofori-Atta of the Egle Party urged the delegates to vote for a flagbearer who is capable of winning the 2008 presidential elections.
Kwesi Pratt representing the Ccommittee for Joint Action said his group was prepared to work together with democratic forces to check corruption and all opposition in society.
The Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) which recently broke away from the NDC was conspicuously absent.
John Mahama, Director of Communications, debunked media reports that the DFP was not invited.
'I personally directed that an invitation should be extended to the DFP to attend the ceremony, 'he told the Times.
There were other solidarity messages from the party’s overseas branches, and the party’s caucus in Parliament.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the venue, University of Ghana.
As early as 6 am, the delegates, clad in party colours, started arriving at the M-Block of the university where the two-day event was being held under the theme:, 'Unity for victory 2008.'
Various groups supporting the four aspiring flagbearers could be seen drumming and dancing to brass band and music against the background of dominant party colours of red, black, white and green and giant posters and banners of the aspirants at the university premises.
By 9 am, the singing, drumming and dancing outside had intensified while the hall had been fully packed with delegates, party executives, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of other political parties and observers.
Security was tight with only delegates and accredited officials being allowed into the hall. An adjoining hall filled with a projector screened proceedings to the non-delegates.
The arrival of the candidates created a hysterical atmosphere as supporters gave each of them a rousing welcome.
Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah was the first to arrive followed by Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu then Professor John Evans Atta Mills and Mr Eddie Annan.
Prof. Mills arrived at the entrance of the hall with the largest following and a brass band.
The entry of the former Jerry Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu at 12.35 pm, as usual generated a lot of excitement and Haruna Iddrisu, the National Youth Organiser, who was conducting proceedings cut short his assignment to usher the couple to their seats.
In a brief statement, Mr Rawlings urged the delegates to elect a Presidential candidate who the Ghanaian electorate could vote for as president in the 2008.