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22.11.2007 Politics

Alan calls for alliance: As reality of low popularity sets in

By Political Desk
Alan calls for alliance: As reality of low popularity sets in

Barely a month after he publicly declared that he would not enter into an alliance in his bid to win the flagbearership race of the New Patriotic Party based on a belief that he would win the contest 'one touch,' aspiring flagbearer Alan Kyerematen appears to have shelved that resolve, telling an audience in the Western Region on Tuesday that even though he expected to win the presidential race in the first round, he would accept a strategic alliance with any of the aspirants to boost his chances.

"I will not rule out any strategic alliance with any of the aspirants to boost my chances” he said at a media briefing in Takoradi on his campaign tour of the Western Region.

With exactly a month before the NPP national congress, Mr Kyerematen's change of tune is likely to be interpreted as a reality check. On the ground checks made by The Statesman indicate that in spite of the expensive and extensive work done by the former Trade Minister in the last three years, his candidacy is not enjoying the kind of grassroots enthusiasm him and his sponsors hoped for.

Observers have criticised him for seeking to “buy” popularity and recognition in a party that has been built over the decades from naked loyalty, conviction and principles.

Part of his plan has been to provide polling station executives with small portraits of himself as a way of planting himself in their memory bank.

However, he remains very much one of the leading candidates. But, many party insiders dismiss his popularity as one achieved on the two wings of President John Agyekum Kufuor and cash.

Though Mr Kyerematen makes his acclaimed marketability a strong point in his campaign, his critics say he has never been tested for any indication of his popularity or appeal to the floating voter to be gauged.

Abdulai Samuel, an NPP youth activist said on Angel FM, Kumasi last week that Mr Kyerematen is disadvantaged by the fact that he'd never even contested a district assembly election.

Abu argued that it would be too experimental for the NPP to choose such an electorally untested material in a presidential election after a two-term presidency, facing a two-term popular contestant like John Evans Atta-Mills.

But despite his looking for an alliance, the former Trade Minister predicts a margin of victory that is quite staggering and will cause some of his competitors to revise their notes.

Mr Kyerematen said after touring the 22 constituencies in the Region and other parts of the country, he was sure to win by a margin of between 60 and 70 percent of the total votes when the party goes to congress in December.

He said even though he had the respect and admiration for the other aspirants, the combination of skills, career profile both local and international placed him "streets ahead" of all of them.

"In all humility, I am the one cut for the job among the lot", Mr. Kyerematen said, adding that he had adopted "effective campaign strategy, efficient organisation and good quality message to make him the best choice of the delegates.

He said looking carefully at the background, exposure, experience and credibility of all the aspirants; none of them could match him in the struggle for the mantle of leadership of the NPP.

The NPP presidential aspirant said he would give priority attention to industrialisation with a bias for agriculture, information and communication technology, infrastructure and tourism development if he became president.

"The people must choose a president who can add value to what had been achieved during the past seven years", he said. He said he would create jobs and engage in "grassroots capitalisation that would make poverty a thing of the past".

On the current situation about the Presidents Special Initiative, Mr Kyerematen said the programme was one of the proud achievements of the government to expand the economy even though "some people only re-echo negative comments about it".

He commended the media for its contribution towards the successful implementation of government programmes to enhance development but cautioned practitioners to be circumspect in their reportage so as not to infringe on the rights and independence of individuals.

With additional GNA file