Two leading members of the New Patriotic Party aspiring to be the party's presidential candidate for the 2008 general election yesterday filed their nominations at the party's headquarters amidst fanfare.
The aspirants — Mr Dan Kwaku Botwe, a former General Secretary and former Minister of Information, and Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, a former Minister of Defence — have become the 13th and 14th respectively, out of the 19, to file their nominations.
The NPP opened nominations on September 22, 2007 up to November 22, 2007, while the congress is scheduled for December 22, 2007 at the University of Ghana.
Mr Botwe was wearing a blue and white smock, accompanied by his wife, Maud, and a large number of supporters who could be said to be the largest number the party headquarters had witnessed so far since the filing of nominations began on September 22, 2007.
The supporters, who came in as early as 8 a.m. in buses numbering about 15, wore T-shirts embossed with Mr Botwe's picture and carried banners.
They also sang victory songs while others shouted “No general no vote”, “No Dan, no NPP”, “People's father” among others. Before entering the offices of the party, Mr Botwe joined his numerous supporters to sing victory songs.
After he had presented his nomination forms and the cheque for GH¢ 25,000 as filing fee to the General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Ohene Ntow, Mr Botwe told the media that the congress would be voting for a leader who was a dyed in the wool NPP member, “a marketable person who all Ghanaians will be prepared to buy and who strikes a cord with the ordinary Ghanaian, as well as and had proved to be a great political leader”.
“We are looking for a truly NPP person who has been with the party in the trenches, understand the philosophy of the party and has taken risk for the party so that if in future there is turbulence he will know how to steer affairs.”
He said before he publicly declared his intention to contest the flagbearership of the party, he discussed the issue with President Kufuor whom he had closely worked with for more than 20 years.
“When I take over in January 2009 as President of Ghana, I may give him (President Kufuor) about two months to rest because after that he is going to be on my right side.
I will take so much of his time and energy, because by practice when you leave a position you are always in a better state of mind to help others,” he added.
He said President Kufuor, Mr Kofi Annan and other Ghanaians with great talents would be tapped to form a strong human resource base for his government.
Mr Botwe debunked the notion that he was fronting for any candidate and said in his 25-year political history, he would never front for anybody because he was ready and capable to serve the party and the people of Ghana as President through hard work, and that was why he was in the race.
He said the filing of his nomination had brought back to him good memories of the time when he was General Secretary of the NPP in 1998 and in 2004 when he received nomination forms from other aspirants.
“Today as history will have it, I am also here to present the same thing I received from other people to my brother who is now the General Secretary.
I do this in all humility with great sense of honour and conscious of the Danquah-Busia tradition, which many people sacrificed their lives for,” Mr Botwe said.
He said as a one-time General Secretary, who admonished other people to be decorous in their campaigns at the constituency, regional and national level elections, “I think it is so clear that I will not do anything that will damage the image of the party.
I promise to prosecute this campaign even though very strongly, but very decently”. When it got to his turn, Dr Addo-Kufuor, who was also accompanied by some supporters in T-shirts imprinted with his picture, described President J. A. Kufuor's administration as perhaps the best that the country had witnessed since independence, because it had managed the affairs of the country with competence, integrity and compassion and “I have no doubt that the legacy of his excellency's government will be beneficial to this country for years to come”.
He said in the medium term, there were many promising signs for the country, which included the Bui Dam, the arrival of the West African Gas Pipeline, the smelter for Bauxite at Kyebi, the Millennium Challenge Accounts and the discovery of oil in the Tano Basin.
He said the country had a bright future and promised to build on the solid foundation and also gave a pledge to bring to the presidency visionary and competent leadership when he was sworn in January 2009 as President of Ghana.
Dr Addo-Kufuor, who is the longest serving Minister of Defence, said he would conduct a clean campaign devoid of personal attacks because all the aspirants were either his brothers or friends who were working together for the party to emerge stronger and more united after congress.
Story by Donald Ato Dapatem