Mr Alan Kyerematen, former Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives (PSIs), has formally launched his campaign for the flagbearership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
He also became the first candidate to file his nomination and pay the filing fee of GH¢25,000 (¢250 million) in banker's draft to the party.
At a rally to launch his campaign at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, he called on the delegates to select a candidate who was not only marketable and popular within the NPP but also marketable throughout the country.
He said as was the case all over the world, winning an election for the third consecutive time was not easy and, therefore, the NPP needed a new messenger with a new face who would convince the people of Ghana to give the party the mandate for the third time.
The rally was attended by hundreds of supporters drawn from all the regions who were clad in T-shirts embossed with Mr Kyerematen's photo and inscriptions such as “Job for the people, Cash for Ghanaians”.
According to Mr Kyerematen, any aspirant the party would elect as its presidential candidate for the 2008 election must fulfil some fundamental requirements, which included marketability and the ability to build on President Kufuor's legacy.
He added that the person must be a visionary with a new face and a new message.
He said he took the decision to contest the race after consulting with the rank and file of the NPP throughout the country for more than two and a half years and urged the delegates to vote for him in the December 22 national delegates congress of the party.
Mr Kyerematen, who said he had been a national executive member of the NPP by virtue of being the Chairman of the Young Executives Forum (YEF), a group within the NPP, since 1992, said the candidate must also have international experience and exposure and must have exhibited commitment, loyalty and leadership qualities within the NPP over the last 15 years.
He said the YEF had produced six cabinet ministers and the current National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Peter Mac Manu.
“We are looking for a President of Ghana, a President who will not only operate in Ghana but will represent Ghana throughout the whole world,” he said, and reminded the delegates that “the fight before us is a champion of champions match which requires professional players”.
Mr Kyerematen, whose speech was interspersed with songs from the sound system, also tasked the delegates to investigate carefully the backgrounds of all aspirants and select the one who had both local experience and a good track record.
He described himself as a person with a unifying gift from God to naturally unite the more than 20 aspirants and their various supporters after the congress.
Mr Kyerematen, who also spiced his speech with Fante, Twi, Ewe and Ga interludes, said within a short time, President Kufuor's government had achieved great strides unprecedented in the history of Ghana, especially in the areas of the economy, infrastructure, education, health, among other sectors, which needed to be built upon.
He noted that if what he had enumerated were what the delegates would consider before making their choice at the congress, “then their natural candidate will be Alan Kyerematen. Please remember also that you need somebody who can give you the balance that needs to be added to the record of the NPP. And it's about jobs and cash”.
Quoting from Ghana,s first president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Mr Kyerematen said, “Seek ye first the political kingdom and everything else shall be added unto you,” and said this year being the Jubilee Year, Ghanaians needed something more than politics.
“After 50 years of political independence, I, Alan Kyerematen, with the support of God and the people of this country, am ready to lead Ghana to attain economic independence and that economic independence for Ghana is going to be the philosophy and vision that will underpin my presidency,” he said.
To realise that vision, he proposed four priority areas — Industrialisation, with a bias for agriculture, infrastructural development, information technology and tourism — that he would tackle with all the seriousness they deserved.
Mr Kyerematen, who walked from the Holy Gardens at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the party headquarters at Asylum Down to file his nomination after the rally, said by filing just two days after taking the forms, he had demonstrated a high level of organisational efficiency that was critical for electoral victory in 2008.
“I am sure that if the delegates put their trust in me, it will be the same level of organisation, working together with executives, both at the constituency and national levels, that will enable the party to win the 2008 elections,” he said.
His supporters, some of whom had travelled from the Volta Region, started gathering at the rally grounds as early as 9.00 a.m. singing and dancing to music from brass band and sound systems and chanting choruses such as “Unto the Lord be the Glory”.