Unity in diversity was given a resounding endorsement at a mammoth rally at Kasoa yesterday when each of the 17 presidential aspirants of the New Patriotic Party re-affirmed his support for whoever emerges as the party's flag-bearer at the December 22 Congress.
By their collective resolve, the presidential aspirants also put to rest any apprehensions of the party faithful and political watchers that the party could split after the decisive congress at the University of Ghana to elect the flag-bearer.
At the rally in Kasoa to introduce the aspirants, all the speakers indicated the supremacy of the party above individual interests and pledged to support whoever emerged as the presidential candidate for 2008.
In what appeared to be an unwritten testament, President J.A. Kufuor also made a commitment to rally behind any person who would be elected as the flagbearer of the party.
He said he attended the rally to observe for himself whether or not there would be any signs that cracks and anger would emerge among the aspirants, but got convinced by what he saw that sceptics had been proven wrong as the candidates and their supporters exhibited cohesion and unity of purpose in their activities and presentations.
The President said there was a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the NPP to provide good governance to Ghanaians in 2008 and noted that many of the successes the country had attained under his administration were not due to his personal effort only but the collective action of the NPP faithful.
He advised the party supporters to choose a candidate who could take care of all Ghanaians Taking his turn, Dr Baffour Agyei Bawuah, said it was only the NPP that could develop the country and promised to build one industry in each constituency when given the nod to lead the party.
Mr Alan Kyeremanten said for the party to be victorious in the 2008 general elections, the delegates should vote for a marketable candidate and one who would create jobs that would put money into their pockets.
For his part, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng said it was time that Ghana had a leader who would use science and technology to develop the nation since the country was developing its production capacity instead of over relying on external markets.
Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor said that the track record of the government under the leadership of President Kufuor was enough to retain the NPP in power but underlined the importance of the delegates to elect someone who could continue with the good foundation already laid.
He cited the Bui Dam, West African Gas Pipeline Millennium Challenge Account among others as examples. He therefore urged the delegates to vote for a hardworking leader to continue with the development started by President Kufuor.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo who used the occasion to call for a minute silence for all the departed souls of the party said the December 22 congress was purely a family affair.
He urged the delegates to give him the mandate to lead the party to victory but reminded them that as he did during the 1996 congress of the party by pledging his support for the then candidate Kufuor he expressed they hope that the others would do same.
Mr Kyeremateng Agyarko stated that the party was poised to remain in power for the next 50 years because comparing NDC and NPP the latter had done unprecedented development.
He said what was required was unity, care for the foot soldiers and positioning of the party in good stead and reminded the candidates that they should all remain steadfast behind whoever would be selected in December 22.
Prof Mike Oquaye, recounted the great strides that the party had attained which include, HIPC, debt cancellation, school feeding projects and the solid micro economic achievements all under President Kufuor's Administration.
He gave the assurance that the party would emerge from the congress more united than ever and promised that when given the mandate he would create a new era for women.
Dr Kofi Konadu Appraku, said the large crowd of party faithfuls gathered at the rally grounds should send strong signals that the party would win the 2008 elections.
He express the hope that God would direct the hearts of the delegates to select a candidate who is a core member of the party through thick and thin and also pledged that if he lost he would support whoever that the congress would elect.
Papa Owusu Ankomah commended the party supporters and sympathisers for the sacrifices they had made for the to reach its current stage and express the hope that they would elect a winnable candidate at the congress.
He said like the founders of the party, the delegates should be guided by truthfulness and unity in the selection of a candidate to lead the NPP which he described as a party of opportunities for anyone irrespective of his or her religion, ethnicity or race.
When the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, stood behind the microphones, the crowd cheered aloud and he took the opportunity to described himself as the best among the lot to take the party to a third successive victory because of the experience he had amassed over the years.
“I have served President Kufuor and the nation well and if we want to talk about smooth transition, it should be the handing over of power from President Kufuor to his Vice Aliu Mahama because they both championed the progress of the country since 2001”, he added.
The last speaker among the aspirants, Mr Kwabena Agyepong who was also the immediate past Press Secretary to the President, said the party needed a youthful mind such as him to lead it to victory come 2008.
According to him, the task ahead was going to be tough and indicated that having started with the party during the days it was struggling to win power in opposition, he was better poised to lead the party to victory.
Dr Kobina Arthur Kennedy asked the party supporters to be mindful of what he described as the role of the “Johns” in Ghana politics.
The road to Kasoa, the venue for the rally and the entire grounds itself was decorated with giant billboards depicting the pictures of all the aspirants.
Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, said what was more paramount was for the party to remain united after the delegates congress.
He said his achievements during his tenure as the finance minister and Sports and education bears testimony to his ability to lead the party to victory in 2008 and urged the delegates to choose him to deliver that promise.
Mr Felix Owusu Agyepong said the three qualities that the party delegates needed to watch out for were party person, trouble free person and finally a great leader and a unifier.
When he took his turn, Mr Jake Okanta Obetsebi- Lamptey asked the party not to be over confident but work hard to ensure a resounding victory come 2008.
Mr Dan Botwe, said he fought in his capacity as the general secretary when the party was in opposition to win power and retain it.
Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang recounted his successes as a Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing and said the same traits would be exhibited when he is elected to lead the party and eventually win the race in 2008.
The disqualified aspirant, Capt Nkrabea Effah-Darteh, who was introduced as a member of the party, used the occasion to offer a song to inspire the party supporters.
Story by Charles Benoni Okine& Donald Ato Dapatem