Voting continued deep into the night at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in one of the most “electrifying” congresses by the Convention People's Party (CPP) to elect national officers and a flag bearer to lead the party into the 2008 general election.
It was a big event, widely acclaimed by political observers as the grandest congregation of the CPP family since the return of constitutional rule in 1992.
And the calibre of men who presented themselves for the flagbearership race and other offices, as well as the atmosphere created in the Great Hall of the university, gave meaning to the delegates' claim that the “sleeping political giant” which formed the first government in post-colonial Ghana, under Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, had, indeed, been awakened.
Addressing delegates ahead of the day's business, the incumbent National Chairman of the CPP, Dr Edmund Delle, who stood for re-election, sent a clear message that the party was poised to assume the reins of government in 2009, after re-igniting the traditional fighting spirit that had deserted it for some time now.
Watching the huge assembly of enthusiastic delegates at the Great Hall and the thousands of party supporters who travelled from across the length and breadth of the country to witness the occasion, Dr Delle shed tears of joy and said, “I salute all of you in the name of the Great Osagyefo of blessed memory.”
“The CPP is a party worth dying for and you must all strengthen the unity and capacity shown here in our forward march to victory in 2008,” he added.
Indeed, all the other parties which sent goodwill messages indicated that the CPP had put its better foot forward towards the 2008 general election, in fulfilment of its congress theme , “CPP on the move”.
The Ashanti Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Robert Amankwaa, said, “You are charting a new course, to the admiration of the NPP,” but added rather sarcastically, “I think you have to put your weight behind the NPP in the next elections,” a statement which attracted boos and shouts of “No, no” from the delegates.
The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, who delivered the party's solidarity message, said, “A strong CPP is good for our democracy because there will be sufficient alternative ruling parties to check any bad activities of the incumbent government.”
The Ashanti Regional chairman of the People's National Convention (PNC), Mr Thomas Akum-Yong, also had this to say, “We are all in the same Nkrumah family and I think we must congratulate you on the huge congress, which has shown that you are on the right path and back to life.”
Dr Delle, whose speech was met with intermittent applause by the delegates, was very particular about party loyalty, which he described as very crucial in maintaining party focus.
He, therefore, told the delegates, “In choosing your leader, you should think of loyalty to the party.”
“Anyone whose loyalty is questionable cannot be said to be a true member of this great party,” he said.
He commended all the aspirants for showing maturity in their campaign and expressed the hope that whoever would be elected the flag bearer would have the support of the others.
On the flip side, the six candidates were doing their own thing to bring life into the congress just before the programme kicked off at 12 noon.
The candidates who stole the show before the congress took off were Mr George Oposika Aggudey, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom and Prof Agyeman Badu Akosa.
Dr Nduom arrived on the campus in the biggest convoy, led by several motorbikes. Mr Aggudey, with a clenched fist, also stood in a open top Land Cruiser, accompanied by a number of vehicles, as he waved to the cheering crowd.
Prof Akosa was also followed by scores of his fans, some of whom drummed and danced as the renowned pathologist shook hands with people.
Even though the arrival of Dr Kwaku Osafo, Mr Bright Akwetey and Dr Patrick William Asante Akuffo could not be said to match the enthusiasm that surrounded that of the others, they also went their own way to spice up the event.
When Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr, who was the master of ceremonies for the day, introduced the aspirants one after another, the Great Hall shook to its very foundations with chanting and shouting.
In separate interviews before the voting started, all the aspirants were confident of winning the ticket to become the flag bearer of the party.
Prof Akosa said from his own assessment, victory was in sight, but cautioned that in politics anything could happen in matters of elections.
Dr Nduom said no matter the negative campaigning against him by Mr Akwetey, God had ordained him to win the day.
For his part, Mr Akwetey said his chances were as bright as his name and that no one could pose a threat to his ambition to lead the party.
Dr Osafo, Mr Aggudey and Dr Akuffo also claimed that their interactions with the delegates showed that they would win.
A giant close circuit television was placed at the main entrance to the Great Hall for the many others who did not have the opportunity to enter the hall to see proceedings going on there.
A delegation from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party was also in attendance, as well as a delegation from the UK and Ireland Branch of the CPP.
Story by Kwame Asare Boadu & Enoch Darfah Frimpong,