Analysis of a series of opinion polls conducted by various pollsters from March 2006 till last weekend's annual delegates' conference at Koforidua have thrown up seven names as clear front runners in the race to be NPP flagbearer.
These names, Nana Akufo-Addo, Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Alan Kyerematen and Dan Botwe, with the exception of Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, incidentally, are the same individuals President Kufuor says are the next generation of NPP leaders.
It has been suggested that the President did not mention his Vice's name because unlike most, if not all, of the others, Alhaji Aliu Mahama has not publicly declared his intentions and the President, the astute politician that he is, chose not to force the question on his number 2.
The Statesman can reveal that the presidency commissioned a number of confidential opinion polls on the chances of the various wannabe presidents last year.
In the earliest, conducted in March, Nana Akufo-Addo, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Alhaji Mahama and Alan Kyerematen made a strong showing.
At the time, Dan Botwe had not made any moves towards the presidency. Another, in July, produced the same names, but with the addition of Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang. Mr Botwe, who had begun testing the waters after his sacking from the Cabinet a few months earlier, made the list of strong show-ers in the survey conducted in the third quarter of the year.
Other opinion polls conducted by some respected pollsters have produced much the same results.
A poll conducted by Ben Ephson of the Daily Dispatch between July and October, and published in December, placed Alan Kyerematen at the top of the pile with 21.2 percent, followed by Alhaji Aliu Mahama with 20.1 percent and Nana Akufo-Addo with 19.5 percent.
Hackman Owusu-Agyemang placed fourth with 13.2 percent. Yaw Osafo-Maafo was a distant seventh with 3.4 percent, Kwame Addo-Kufuor fared even worse, placing ninth (last) with 2.3 percent.
Mr Osafo-Maafo's showing was explained as being due to his apparent vacillation between running or not running. Instructively, the first four garnered over 73 percent of the total vote.
But the accuracy of this survey was questioned, most notably by the campaign office of Dr Addo-Kufuor. Frank Appeagyei, Dr Addo-Kufuor's campaign manager, told The Statesman that his candidate was "in the front row; in fact he is the front runner.” Aides of the other hopefuls, especially those close to the bottom of the table also challenged the results.
They were not the only ones. The partial results of a scientific survey, according to the Crusading Guide apparently commissioned by Dr Addo-Kufuor's office and conducted by Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh of the School of Communication Studies released a few days after Mr Ephson's survey found out Nana Akufo-Addo was the favourite of NPP delegates with 22.5 percent. Again, the Vice President placed second, this time with 20.4 percent, while Dr Addo-Kufuor placed third with 16.7 percent. Next in line were Yaw Osafo-Maafo (6.9 percent), and Alan Kyerematen (5.1 percent).
Other polls, including an ongoing one on Ghanaweb, last night gave Nana Akufo-Addo 34.9 percent, Yaw Osafo-Maafo 14.4 percent, Aliu Mahama 10.9 percent, Alan Kyerematen 0.1 percent, while other hopefuls, including Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Dan Botwe, Kofi Konadu Apraku and Kwabena Frimpong Boateng had less than 10 percent of the vote each.
While this poll may be woefully unscientific, being the views of visitors to the site, it does reflect a trend noticed elsewhere.
But it may not be the entire picture.
A poll conducted by some concerned NPP activists, not connected to any of the leading contenders, at the annual delegates' conference, showed Mr Kyerematen was a force to be reckoned with.
75 delegates interviewed by the activists gave Mr Kyerematen and Nana Akufo-Addo the same odds on chances, while Alhaji Aliu Mahama came third.
Similarly, another poll conducted through the enterprise of Nikki Yeboah, Associate Editor of the Saturday Statesman, the full results of which will be published this Saturday, indicated that if the congress were held today, the first to fifth positions would be occupied by Nana Akufo-Addo, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, and Dan Botwe. But, if the cheers each speaker received, first within the conference hall and later at the rally grounds are anything to go by, then all seven of them are certainly forces to reckon with.