The Saturday Statesman has learnt that the December 22nd national congress of the New Patriotic Party will see some radical changes that may see the whole programme over by 6pm that Saturday.
Unlike other delegates' conferences, this time all ten Regions will vote at the same time. This may call for the provision of more than 10 boxes. Ashanti Region, with 390 delegates, is expected to be provided with at least two boxes.
The hope is that the whole voting exercise will be over within two hours. The counting is also expected not to take more than 3 hours, though up to 20 people may file.
The Saturday Statesman has, however, been reliably informed that at least one high profile aspirant, a former Cabinet Minister, does not intend to file. There are also diligent efforts on the part of the party headquarters to ensure that the integrity of the election process is of a standard high enough to be readily accepted by all contestants.
In this regard, one of the aspirants, Kwabena Agyepong is calling for a special election committee, compromising of senior party officers and representatives of all the aspirants to be formed to work out the modalities of the national congress to ensure the kind of fairness being demanded by all competing parties.
The Saturday Statesman has further learnt that the party has settled on renting the new International Hostel at Legon to accommodate all the delegates from the constituencies, 2,300 in all. The apartment blocks of the International Hostel can house about 3,200 people, more than enough for the congress.
In an exclusive interview with The Saturday Statesman earlier in the week, both Kwabena Agyepong and Hackman Owusu-Aagyemang supported the idea of restricting the majority of the ten mandatory delegates per constitution to the nine elected officers, plus one, who could be the MP, patron or respected party member.
They believe this to be the best compromise in ensuring that the selection of delegates does not create confusion and disgruntlement within camps. Their proposal is being considered by several aspirants.
However, The Saturday Statesman has learnt that it has not won the favour of the national officers of the party, particularly, National Chairman Peter Mac Manu. Concerns evolve on the legitimacy of such an option and how that can sit well with the NPP constitution.
Meanwhile, its advocates argue that so long as it wins the favour of most of the aspirants then its legitimacy can be assured and a more long term option considered at the next annual delegates' conference of the party, which is expected in January.
Earlier in the week, The Statesman reported that the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party has issued a circular to all regional and constituency branches of the party to begin with the process of selecting delegates for congress.
The circular instructs party officers to "select" the delegates in accordance with articles 12 and 16 of the NPP constitution and in line with "administrative practices" employed for the process since 1992. This is the first such contest since the party was formed 15 years ago.
The highest decision-making body of the party, the National Council, has directed that the full list of delegates, as represented in photo albums of all 230 constituencies, should only be made available to presidential nominees two weeks before the national congress.
All in all less than 2,350 delegates will take part in nominating the party's presidential candidate for the December 2008 general elections.
Under article 12 of the NPP constitution, the presidential candidate is elected by the national congress, "which shall comprise of (i) 10 delegates from each constituency; (ii) 1 representative of the Founding Members from each Region; (iii) 1 representative of the Patrons from each Region; and (v) 1 representative of each overseas branch of the Party that is entitled to send a representative to the National Delegates Conference."
Article 6, clause 18 of the same constitution illustrates how delegates are supposed to be chosen: "Every constituency executive committee shall convene an extraordinary constituency delegates conference to elect, when required, 6 members of the constituency who are not constituency Officers, together with 4 constituency officers, to be the 10 delegates of the constituency to attend the national congress."
The loose rule is that NPP delegates must reflect the popularity of the candidates at the constituency level because, after all a 'delegate' per se is not a free agent.
ostel can house about 3,200 people, more than enough for the congress.