Mike Oquaye, one of the 17 presidential aspirants of the ruling NPP, has stressed the urgent need for all activists of the party to take a look back at the struggle and sacrifices they had to make in the past before winning political power in 2000, and refrain from all practices that could pose a threat to the party's prospects of retaining power in the 2008 elections.
He particularly cautions the delegates who have the mandate to elect the party's presidential candidate this Saturday to stand firm, and not succumb to any move that could unduly influence them to make a wrong decision and vote for a candidate who would not be accepted by the party's rank and file and who would not be acceptable to the generality of Ghanaians.
In an exclusive interview with The Statesman, the Dome-Kwabenya MP said he expects delegates to vote to reward competence, loyalty, dedication as well as sacrifice to the cause of the party, to make the activists of the party see the NPP as a group that is worth dying for.
To Mr Oquaye, a regular columnist of The Statesman in 1992, when it comes to the issue of commitment and sacrifice to the NPP, he stands tall to be counted among the giants, insisting "I have always remained a loyal and dedicated apostle of the NPP both in words and deed.”
Describing himself as a true son of the Danquah-Busia tradition, Prof Oquaye took his time to explain to our reporter some of the contributions he had made toward advancing the cause of the NPP in particular and the democracy in general in the country.
"Before 1992, it was not just by the wish of Rawlings that we had the return to constitutional rule; It was by agitation and in that political agitation, I was at the very centre of it. When Prof Adu Boahen went and gave the three lectures that broke the culture of silence we were the people with him, his ever-faithful wife, Mrs Adu Boahen and Prof Oquaye," he told our reporter.
According to him it was through his effort that the late Adu Boahen got a bulk of materials for his lectures, adding "because of that I was heavily acknowledged in the body of his work and this shows a tract record of long association with Prof Adu Boahen, as I worked with him in the ideals of democracy, human rights and freedom pursuit in this country."
On his contribution to the cause of the NPP, he said he was not just a founding member of the party, but "a foundation member who contributed his time, energy and resources towards the noble cause of bringing this great party into being."
The presidential aspirant who is variously described as the intellectual colossus of the NPP, was a member of the Committee that drafted the party"s constitution, became the first Secretary of the Greater Accra Regional branch, a position he combined with the Chairmanship of the then Ga Rural constituency.
"In 1992, I was a part of the 15-member national campaign team, solely responsible for the Greater Accra Region. I travelled all over the region with my own resources without receiving a penny from the party.
"In every election since 19992, I contributed financially to support the campaign. In 2004, for instance, I gave Four Million Cedis to each of our parliamentary candidates in the Greater Accra Region in addition to l0 container load of logistics for the party. This tells you I have always remained a true blue party man," he told The Statesman.
The presidential aspirant described the NPP as "a party of destiny," explaining that the NPP has proved to the all and sundry that it is the only party that has got a credible and workable plan to move the nation into the realms of accelerated socio-economic development.
"That is why the delegates to our congress have to rise above any form of short-term personal gains and take a decision that would be in the best interest of the party and the entire nation, by electing a presidential candidate who would be accepted by all; a candidate who can retain power for us in the 2008 elections, and move ahead to take practical steps to tackle the developmental problems that confront us as a nation," he stated.
On the issue of monetary influence that seems to have taken a centre stage in the party's flagbearership contest, the learned Professor who sees himself as the best man to lead the NPP urges the delegates to "chop with their mouths and vote with their heads" to ensure that the flagbearership is not given to the highest bidder but the best person.
On his vision for the nation, Prof Oquaye intends to pay particular attention to one area of agriculture, which he passionately describes as the "Corn Revolution."
In his own words, "corn is eaten in Ghana for breakfast in the form of Koko, Ekuegbemi, Oblayoo, etc as well as corn bread; for lunch and supper we have Kenkey, Banku, Apapransa, Tuo Zaafi, Akple, etc.
"If you have corn you have chicken and if you have chicken you have egg. We are going to grow corn bountifully to eliminate hunger and bring up a new generation of children who will eat and egg a day. We are going to grow corn 365 days in a year through simple irrigation techniques including water pumps, water/rain harvesting, bole holes, etc."
Asked what had been the core issues underlying his campaign, the presidential aspirant told The Statesman that his campaign message is enormous and borders on transforming the agriculture sector, private sector development, education, ICT, youth and employment, health, women, law and order, the media, the NPP and the people of Ghana.
By Kwabena Amankwah