•Mac Manu shocked & downplays report
•Effah-Dartey mounts defence but Apraku keeps mum
•Lord Commey says `no comment yet`, Dan Botwe`s boys say `no fears`
A directive given by President John Agyekum Kufuor last Friday, to Ashanti regional Executives of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) that has called into question his neutrality in the party's flagbearership as reported by The Chronicle yesterday has kept party activists and top members wondering what might be happening.
Some were quick to disbelieve the story but a reaction by the Deputy Ashanti regional Minister and immediate past vice regional Chairman of the party, Mr. Osei Asibbey, who said on Joy FM that he could not deny or affirm the story as published by The Chronicle yesterday, left no doubt about the authenticity of the report.
Party Chairman, Mr. Peter Mac Manu, who has been described as 'Millennium Chairman' and Mr. Lord Commey, the National Organiser described as the NPP's 'Field Marshal' refused to give detailed comments on the issue, when the paper contacted them, for their reactions on the comments made by the President.
Mr. Mac Manu did not believe that the President would go to the extent to which the reports indicated. “I don't expect that the President would go that far because he knows the Constitution of our party. I am not sure of the report.”
He said he could not even assume that: “I can't assume anything, it would be like putting the cart before the horse. As a responsible Chairman, I must do my own investigations before speaking. I don't just react to newspaper reports.”
Mr. Commey, in a like manner, declined to give any account on the matter, saying he was yet to get the full report and ascertain its veracity or otherwise.
In an interview with this paper, Captain Kwame Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (Rtd), the former Deputy Minister of Interior and NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Berekum in the Brong Ahafo Region who is a victim of the 'presidential order', said obviously the President perhaps was not referring to him if indeed he did say what he was reported to have said.
According to him he was not a cabinet minister who had the opportunity of awarding contracts and that he was only a deputy minister.
To him, if what was reported was true, then, he was not the one being referred to because he was not sacked for any wrongdoing and that the President agonised in giving him relief of the post.
“In fact before I was relieved of my post, the president told me that he regretted relieving me of my position because I was a hard-working Minister and that I should work hard to help the party win the next elections. He told me that I had not committed any crime and that I did not do anything wrong except that he wanted to cut down the numbers.”
Having this in mind, he said, “I don't think that the President was talking about me,” continuing that, “I don't have an opportunity to run a Ministry to award contracts to anybody. I was just a deputy minister.”
Asked whether he was scared about the reported comments of the President, the Berekum legislator underscored that he was not worried or afraid about anything except God.
“Apart from God, I don't fear anything but whatever anybody does both positive and negative, would work well for my victory.”
Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, one of the NPP aspirants and the MP for Offinso-North, who was sacked last year by the President, and thus also becomes a victim of the presidential advice to delegates declined to comment on the matter when contacted.
“I have no comment for now,” he submitted.
Mr. Francis Botwe, Communications Manager of Dr. Apraku, who earlier on told our editor that they were preparing to issue a statement, beat a retreat after less than three hours and stated that, “We have decided to hold on for now.
We are studying the statement and at the appropriate time, we shall come out with an appropriate response.”
Efforts to reach Dan Kwaku Botwe, former Minister of Information and Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, former Minister of Education, Science and Sports, proved futile as they were reported to have gone to the northern parts of the country to canvass for votes in line with their presidential aspirations.
Mr. Alex Akurugu, a member of a group calling itself “Patriotic Force,” which is fronting for Mr. Botwe, stated that though they did not believe the reported story, they were not scared even if it was true.
“It is now left for the delegates to make head or tail out of what President Kufuor was reported to have said because we believe that President Kufuor is an individual.”
Responding to suggestions that such comments from the President would create confusion among the party members, the national chairman of the party, Mr. Peter Mac Manu stated otherwise.
According to him, he does not believe that the President would go out of his way to say something, which would be at variance with the party's constitution.
He told this paper that the NPP as a party had a constitution, which spells out who should be dropped from the race based upon the findings of the vetting committee of the party.
The press secretary to the President, Mr. Andrew Awuni, also could not comment on the issue because he said he was out of town.
Referring to the party's position on the issue of flagbearership, the NPP Chairman took the paper through Article 9 (CF) of the constitution, which gives guidelines to who qualifies to lead the party, stating that the party would soon come out with the guidelines and the venue for the congress.
Throwing more light on the constitution, he said any applicant who was disqualified by the vetting Committee has an opportunity to appeal and the National Executive Committee would look at the merits or demerits of that appeal.
From Kumasi, Ernest Kofi Adu Reports that news about the Presidential directive to Ashanti Regional Constituency executives of the NPP last Friday, yesterday took centre stage in radio discussions in Kumasi.
The news became a matter of concern to many believed to be sympathisers of the ruling party. Even though reactions were generally mixed, majority of people were worried about the serious repercussions it might have on the NPP.
Many, in diplomatic posture, raised questions about the 'presidential order'.
The general concerns were about party unity and purpose ahead of the 2008 presidential and parliamentary polls, charging that all members of the elephant family should desist from fanaticism and intolerance.
But others preferred to cast doubt on The Chronicle's news report, indicating that the paper was only bent on causing mischief in the NPP.
They described the publication as untrue since, fearing that if it turned out to be the opposite, it would cause great disaffection among the rank and file of the party.
The President, at a secret meeting amidst tight security in Kumasi, allegedly told Constituency Executives of the party in the Ashanti Region not to vote for any of those aspirants who he (Kufuor) had dismissed as ministers of state.