Mr. Daniel Kwaku Botwe and Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, two of the New Patriotic Party (NPP's) leading presidential aspirants, yesterday made good their promise to run the race to the finishing point, when they took turns to file their nominations for the December 22, 2007 delegates' congress of the party.
While Botwe said he was the best person for the job due to his track record in both party and government, Dr. Addo Kufuor's men described the former Defence Minister as “the man among the boys” in the race.
Mr. Botwe, in an interaction with the media said he would tap the experiences of the likes of President John Agyekum Kufuor, and Mr. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General.
And for his part, Dr. Addo-Kufuor said he would build on the gains and legacies of the current government, which he described as “probably the best government since independence”.
The first to arrive at the party headquarters was the one-time General Secretary of NPP, whose teeming supporters, mainly the youth in the party, had thronged the Asylum Down office as early as 7.30 am amid drumming and dancing to await his arrival.
Mr. Botwe kept to his time when he arrived at exactly 10.01am with a large entourage, some of whom were chanting “No Botwe, No NPP” and “Dan, the soul of the party”.
“My coming here today brings back great memories of 1998 and 2004, when I was the General Secretary and received forms from presidential aspirants. Today, as history would have it, I am presenting the very things I used to receive since 1998,” he recalled.
He said for a quarter of a century, he had been actively engaged in Ghanaian politics and had thus acquired a lot of experience, making him fit for the job of a president.
“My political journey has given me a front seat in terms of direct experience of the major political developments of our nation. It has also taken me to the farthest reaches of this country and given me a rare insight into the conditions of our people,” he said.
According to him, delegates at the December congress would have to look out for not only a party man, but also someone who was marketable and a proven political leader, adding that he was entering the fray with “a unique blend of experience, dynamism, vision and purpose”.
He promised that his two-term presidency would be characterized by eight years of hard work and selflessness.
Dr. Addo Kufuor, who arrived an hour later with a respectable number of supporters, said he would run a transparent government if given the nod.
In a rather short speech, he said he had a lot of respect for all the other 18 aspirants in the race and promised not to do anything to destroy the image of the party.
Being the only former minister to have submitted all contracts signed in his seven-year tenure to the Auditor-General, Dr Addo-Kufuor also offered to declare his assets before ascending to power as president.
Receiving the forms and filing fee of ¢250 million each, the NPP General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow advised both aspirants and their supporters to conduct their campaigns without acrimony, stressing that the unity of the party was paramount.
“Filing of nominations is very important, but at the end of the day only one person will carry the day. That is why we are handling the process efficiently. I wish to assure you that everything will be open and transparent,” he said.
Nana Ntow asked any aspirant who had concerns over any issue to feel free to come to him for clarification.
“I know our detractors who expect the party to split into 19 factions will be ashamed at the end of this exercise because the party will come out stronger and more united,” he concluded.
The two aspirants assured the General Secretary of a clean campaign.
With both of them claiming to be confident of being elected flagbearer, the former Information and Defence Ministers, have therefore become the 13th and 14th aspirants respectively to file nominations to contest the December Congress of the ruling party.
The congress to elect the NPP presidential candidate for the 2008 general election is seven weeks away.
By Bennett Akuaku