A week after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had successfully held its National Delegates Congress, tons of congratulatory messages continue to pour in, with some virtually falling over each other, and hailing both the ruling party and its 2008 presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Even though the initial messages flew in from a number of aspirants who had originally competed with Nana Akufo-Addo for the flagbearership, the most dramatic ones came from the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the Tertiary Education Students Confederacy of NPP (TESCON), National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, Prof John Evans Atta Mills and an Independent Presidential Candidate.
The seemingly endless messages, as if with one voice, captured the free and fair play that characterized the congress, noting that the NPP is one political party that can sustain democracy in the country.
For instance the DFP, in a release signed by its deputy general secretary, Bede A. Ziedeng, was not only impressed with the wonderful performance of the victorious candidate, but also amazed at the spirit of sportsmanship demonstrated by the 16 other aspirants in the race, which was described as unprecedented in the political history of the country.
The defeated aspirants, one after the other, conceded defeat and pledged their support to the party and flagbearer.
“For the DFP the orderly, peaceful and transparent manner in which the congress was organized, added to the level of comportment exhibited by all the contestants, and the pledge of support by all the 16 other contestants who lost is not only phenomenal, but also a classic example of democratic practice not only in Ghana but the whole of Africa”, it noted.
According to the DFP, the congress had further confirmed that democratic culture and practice was getting firmly rooted in Ghana, where the choice of political leadership is determined through competitive contests in democratic context.
The letter stated that the losers “have demonstrated that they are graceful by accepting the results declared by the Electoral Commission as representing the will of the people and congratulating the winner, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”.
It added that Nana Addo's remarkable display of good sportsmanship by acknowledging the good fight put up by all the contestants, particularly Alan Kyerematen, was worthy of note.
According to the DFP, the conduct of the supporters was commendable and hoped the same behaviour would be demonstrated by all the parties during the general elections in December next year.
“The DFP is happy to note that in spite of the apparent tension that appeared before and during the congress, real camaraderie won the day through the show of tolerance and accommodation, the hallmark of democracy,” it said.
The NDC presidential candidate, Prof Mills, in a goodwill message congratulated Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, joining the ranks of presidential candidates.
“To all those who contested and did not ride on personal victory waves, John Evans Atta Mills applauds them for being an integral part of the collective victory of the NPP.
“The NPP has obviously put its best foot forward and John Evans Atta Mills is more than ready to pitch his academic record, public service record, and more importantly, his vision for Ghana against whatever Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo brings to the table”, a statement signed by Koku Anyidoho, Mills' Communications Director said.
The battle is on, and John Evans Atta Mills and the NDC are more than prepared for it, the statement added.
In the same vein, the University of Ghana, Accra City Campus branch of TESCON noted that the congress had shown to Ghanaians the extent to which the NPP can sustain democracy in the country and thus accelerate development.
A release signed by its president, Seth Adu-Agyei, stated the party had not only repeated history, but also sent strong indications that it is ready to win the 2008 elections.
On behalf of the Vice President, the Greater Accra Regional Coordinator and a member of the campaign team, Nii Boye Laryea, congratulated Nana Addo, for what he described as a resounding victory.
He again commended the defeated aspirants, especially the runner-up, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen for the maturity and skilful manner in which he handled the contest.
He said Alan's decision to boldly concede defeat and throw his support behind the winner demonstrated that he meant well for the party and encouraged him to hold on to his dreams.
According to him, the uniqueness of the congress lay in the reconciliation and sportsmanship displayed by all the aspirants after the election, which he underscored, gave an indication that the battle ahead of the party was already won.
He said he was certain that the party was more united than ever before and asked the leadership to continue holding on to the principles of the Danquah-Busia tradition.
To Nana Akufo-Addo, the Regional Coordinator of Aliu Mahama's campaign team pledged their unflinching support and called on others to do same in the supreme interest of the NPP.
According to Nii Laryea, all that the defeated candidates said at the podium should reflect in their action and that it should not be a mere talk.
He praised the Vice President for coming out to contest thereby deepening democracy within the NPP.
“I know that he has fought a good fight and I commend him for what he has done. It is my wish that he would continue like that,” he said.
For his part, Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, the only Independent Candidate contesting the December 2008 general elections, congratulated Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party (CPP) for emerging flagbearers.
“Their election, in addition to National Democratic Congress' Prof. John Evans Attah Mills, People's National Convention's Dr. Edward Mahama and me as an Independent Candidate will invigorate the political awareness of the entire Ghanaian populace towards the 2008 elections.”
This was contained in a statement issued in Accra and signed by his spokesman, Frederick Acquaah.
He urged all the presidential candidates and their supporters to conduct a campaign devoid of acrimony to bring sanity to the political landscape.
“It is time to move from attacking personalities and focus on providing solutions to challenging issues,” he said.
By Bennett Akuaku