DAILY GUIDE'S independent investigations in the Eastern Region has placed six presidential aspirants of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as forerunners in the contest for flagbearership of the party.
Nana Akufo-Addo, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Dan Botwe, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang and the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama are the aspirants in strong contention to garner the region's votes.
Names of these aspirants consistently came up as DAILY GUIDE interviewed delegates with regard to the aspirants who were likely to get their votes.
The Eastern Region is ranked the second highest in the country in terms of constituencies, after Ashanti Region.
However, the paper gathered that delegates were doing wider consultations in their respective constituencies to find out who should be voted for because most of them believed that as delegates, they formed a fraction of the total voting population and that if the choice of the majority was not selected, the party would suffer during the 2008 general elections.
In Lower West Akim, Upper West Akim, Akwatia and Kade constituencies, Alan Kyerematen, Nana Akufo-Addo, Dan Botwe, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang and Yaw Osafo-Maafo made a strong showing as the choice of the people.
Across the eastern and middle belts of the region, Akufo-Addo, Alan, Osafo-Maafo and Dan Botwe comprised the list of preferred candidates, while in the northern belt of the region, the Vice President, in addition to the aforementioned, was also strongly represented.
In Koforidua, it is a straight fight between Nana Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyerematen.
DAILY GUIDE's independent investigation from the general voting population in the regional capital showed that Alan was seen as the preferred candidate by the majority of women who told the paper that he had the aura of a president.
“If Alan becomes president, Ghana would be respected and we would feel proud as a people," the ladies indicated.
The men also preferred Nana Akufo-Addo because they saw him as intelligent and firm.
Some of the delegates confided in the paper that they would make their final assessment on the day of voting after the aspirants had done their presentations.
Meanwhile, the aspirants this week descended on the Eastern Region in a final bid to convince known delegates to vote for them on Saturday when the party goes to elect a flagbearer for the 2008 general elections.
Nana Akufo-Addo, Alan Kyerematen, Prof Mike Oquaye, Dr Addo Kufuor, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Hon Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Dan Botwe and Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng were all billed to meet the 280 delegates in the region.
Delegates, seeing this congress as their 'cocoa season', were taking advantage of the mad rush for votes to make some quick bucks.
Aside a little misunderstanding in the Asuogyaman and Nkawkaw constituencies, which were later resolved, selection of delegates in the Eastern region went on smoothly.
The regional secretary of the party, Alecs Agobo, told DAILY GUIDE that Eastern Region was one of the regions that presented their lists to the national headquarters before the official deadline expired.
“The little problems at Asuogyaman and Nkawkaw were quickly resolved and now we are set to move to Accra on Friday,” he said.
From Cape Coast, Sarah Afful reports that though delegates are gearing up for the impending National Delegates Congress of the party, they seem to be divided and confused after listening to the messages of the aspirants who visited the region.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that since the list of the region's electoral college was revealed, delegates had not had a day's rest as they always attended meetings with NPP aspirants in the region.
Due to the multiplicity of messages, according to sources within the party, a number of the delegates were still undecided as to who to vote for at the party's presidential delegate's congress scheduled for December 22.
Some delegates had reportedly indicated that they were tired of the continuous meetings with presidential aspirants, as they sometimes slept throughout the addresses and only woke up to collect their envelopes.
Last Monday as many as three aspirants stormed the region to solicit for votes in the upcoming presidential primaries.
They were Alan Kyerematen, Papa Owusu-Ankomah and Mr Baffour Adjei-Barwuah.
Central Region, which had become the hotbed of Ghanaian politics due to the sweet victory it gave to the NPP in the 2004 general elections, played host to 15 aspirants as at the time of filing this report.
Due to the strategic importance of the region therefore, almost all the aspirants were doing all in their power to capture it.
Further interactions with some delegates, who pleaded anonymity, revealed that some of them were ready to meet Boakye Kyeremanten Agyako and Dr Arthur Kennedy, who according to them had a lot of ideas.
However when quizzed about the presidential primaries, some delegates told this paper that it was a straight fight between Alan Kyerematen and Nana Akufo-Addo.
They disclosed that initially, Alan Kyerematen enjoyed massive support in the region, but when the list of delegates came out about two weeks ago, Nana Akufo-Addo's foot soldiers intensified their campaign to woo many of them to their side.
Some of the delegates also indicated that Akufo-Addo had contributed a lot to the development of the country, hence the need to sympathize with him and give him their support.
Meanwhile, fresh rumours have it that delegates are meeting this evening to decide who Central Region would vote for in the midst of the confusion.
In a telephone interview, the Regional Organiser of the party, Alhaji Jibrine, said all was set for delegates from the region to report at Legon for the Congress on Friday.
In a related development, Emmanuel Opoku reports from Takoradi that the Western Regional branch of the party is also preparing feverishly to storm the University of Ghana, Legon, for the party's congress with its 222 delegates and thousands of party supporters.
To this end, leadership of the party in the region was arranging with officers of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) to get buses that would convey all the delegates and supporters from the region to and from the congress venue.
The party, as part of its preparations, was also organizing a three-day fasting and prayer at the regional jubilee grounds in Takoradi, which started on Wednesday, December 19, 2007, to ask for God's guidance and intervention during the congress.
Mr. K. K. Sam, Western Regional Secretary of NPP who made this known in an interview on SKYY POWER FM, a local radio station in Takoradi, explained that the spiritual exercise would be undertaken by individual party members nationwide.
He said members of party in the region had decided to converge at the jubilee grounds for the prayers because of the importance they attach to the upcoming congress.
He said senior pastors from some churches within the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and other religious bodies had been invited to join the party members to pray for peace and God's blessings for the nation in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, party members have been in a state of euphoria in the past weeks, as scores of them could be seen almost always arguing on which of the party's 17 presidential aspirants is likely to get the nod.
A walk through some parts of the metropolis revealed the continuous splashing of imposing posters and banners of some of the aspirants on electric posts, fence walls, bill boards, and at the various roundabouts.
In the random interviews DAILY GUIDE conducted in the twin-city as to which of the candidates was likely to win the NPP's presidential slot, most of the party faithful and some delegates said the contest was a straight fight involving four aspirants, namely Osafo-Maafo, Alan Kyerematen, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Koforidua