THE QUESTION of who partners the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, Prof John Evans Atta Mills in the December general elections is still raging, creating division and tension among party members and supporters especially in Tamale, as the party's leadership holds an emergency National Executive Committee meeting in Accra today.
Top on the agenda is the consideration of a running mate for Prof Mills, who has come under intense pressure in recent times following his dilly-dallying in the naming of a candidate to partner him.
The presidential candidate is expected to present the names of Betty Mould-Iddrisu, the choice of former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings; John Dramani Mahama, the choice of the NDC founder, Jerry John Rawlings; and Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, the 2004 running mate who enjoys the support of Tamale NDC members, especially Azorka and his gang of hoodlums.
However, the name of the running mate may not be made public today as the flagbearer has the party's Council of Elders headed by Rawlings to consult as part of the consultative process, after which the name could be announced.
According to Mills' Campaign Coordinator, Alex Segbefia, the whole process cannot be completed today, therefore anxious party members would have to wait a bit longer.
The angling for control by various interest groups has piled pressure on Prof Mills, who is struggling to assert his authority in the choice of a running mate, particularly with Mrs Rawlings openly meddling in the selection process.
The former First Lady said Mills would not be treated with kids' gloves this time around as heavy punches await him if he made a choice other than Betty Mould Iddrisu, a Legal Director at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
She described Betty as NDC's new kid on the block. Her meddling has attracted the opprobrium of many, with Jerry Rawlings' apologists turning their guns on her.
While the Azorka boys are rooting for Lawyer Mohammed Mumuni, another group also thinks the Member of Parliament for Bole/Bamboi, Hon. Mahama, should be given the nod.
The situation has created tension and panic within the party and the Tamale Metropolis after the Azorka Boys hit the streets in protest against the recent alleged announcement of John as running mate.
The counter group, led by Mohammed Aboagye, condemned the action of the demonstrators and their request for a Northern Moslem as running mate for Prof. Mills.
This nearly resulted in fatalities as members of the opposing groups almost engaged in a clash over the issue.
NDC activists in the region are now living in perpetual fear as there is the possibility of a clash, should any of the two be named by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party as the running mate in the future.
The defacing of Atta Mills and Rawlings' pictures at the party's regional secretariat had particularly sent shivers down the spines of party activists, with some disassociating themselves from the two factions for fear of any bloodbath.
Reports of alleged attacks on members of the feuding factions are heightening on a daily basis in the city.
Even though the matter was said to have been resolved by the party's hierarchy after a crunch meeting organized by the NEC, DAILY GUIDE's investigations have revealed that the uproar among party faithful in the region over the running mate issue as well as the true health status of Prof. Mills still reigns.
The notorious Azorka Boys, a group of NDC hoodlums, are still threatening supporters of Hon. Mahama, who was rumoured to have been tipped to partner the party's presidential candidate.
The Azorka Boys, led by Sofo Awudu, aka Azorka, last week took Tamale by storm, registering their strong opposition to media reports that Hon Mahama, NDC Director of Communications, had been picked to partner Prof. Mills. They are also hunting down supporters of the Bole/Bamboi MP.
One of such persons was Mohammed Aboagye, who is currently on the run.
Aboagye, a close pal of Azorka, incurred the wrath of the group when he led a counter NDC group to hold a press conference to condemn the demonstration by Azorka and his group.
These occurrences among others have put the party on a time bomb in the face of stiff competition by the ruling New Patriotic Party.
Though it is the prerogative of the presidential candidate to choose his running mate, for the NDC, it seems that is not the case.
From Stephen Zoure, Tamale