FORMER FINANCE and Economic Planning Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo has stated that the contest for the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is not about blood relationship and family issues, but basically about the future of the country and who is most suitable for the job.
The former minister, who is the MP for Akim Oda, said these when he formally launched his campaign to contest the flagbearership race of the party last Friday at Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region.
He told the cheering crowd in Twi: “Moma yenhwe no yie. Party asem na yeka no, enye anuasem, enye abusua asem. Eye oman neyie ho asem na yeka. Eye oman ne mpuntuo ho asem na yeka”.
(“Let us be very careful. This is a party matter and has nothing to do with family or blood relationship. It is about the country and its development”.)
He claimed that amongst the 19 presidential aspirants of the ruling NPP, he was best placed and prepared to lead the party in the 2008 elections.
“I am not running for the presidency for the sake of being president. I want to move the nation to the next level, and that can only be done by a man of vision,” he said.
Describing the forthcoming general elections as a super final match between the two major political parties in the country, the ruling NPP and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Osafo-Maafo said in a contest like that only skilled and proven players were selected to play.
He therefore urged the delegates not to view the flagbearership race through family or ethnic lenses.
The Electoral College of the party, he said, ought to be quick in listening to what the rest of the country was saying about the aspirants before making any ultimate choice at the party's National Delegates' Congress scheduled for December 22 at the University of Ghana, Legon.
The former Finance Minister further told the delegates to bear in mind that the candidate they would elect on December 22 would not only serve the interest of the NPP but also that of the whole nation, adding that NPP supporters alone could not vote for the party's candidate to win the 2008 elections.
Hon. Osafo Maafo told delegates that the party's flagbearer should be a person who would be accepted by a vast majority of the population so they should scrutinize the backgrounds and achievements of each of the 19 aspirants to establish who was best placed to lead the party to victory.
To him, the eventual candidate must be able to attract the votes of the floating or undecided voters, whom he said usually voted based on the candidate's track record and capabilities.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo recalled his achievements in the Finance Ministry, and how he took the nation to the completion point of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative within a record time of two and a half years.
He said through his efficient handling of the economy, some $4billion of the country's foreign debt was cancelled by her creditors, saying funds ploughed back as a result of the HIPC initiative were going into the provision of schools, hospitals and feeder roads.
"It is about time Ghanaians began to think outside the box and develop a new economic paradigm for this country".
He said Ghana at her present state should graduate from production of raw materials to provider of services in West Africa, stressing that but for his hardwork, the country would not have benefited from the Millennium Challenge Account.
The official launching of Hon. Osafo Maafo's campaign attracted hundreds of party activists, constituency executives and sympathizers from various parts of the country, with traditional rulers also in attendance.
An unprecedented crowd of nearly half a kilometer long of human traffic greeted and escorted him on a march through the principal streets of the Ashanti Regional capital, amidst drumming and dancing. The retinue moved from Adum, through Kejetia, Central Market to the Prempeh Assembly Hall at Fante New Town.
Riding in an open Toyota Land Cruiser, the MP for Oda and his convoy responded to cheers from the thick crowd that thronged the streets, some of them climbing on rooftops.
From Bennett Akuaku, James Quansah, & Stella Danso, Kumasi