THE NEW Patriotic Party (NPP), after holding on to the famous 'Asieho' bottom position in the 2000 general elections which catapulted it to power, has moved to 'Esoroho', taking the top position on the ballot for this year's crucial presidential and parliamentary elections, while its main opponent, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was left dangling in the number three position.
The photograph of Nana Akufo-Addo and the party's elephant symbol would therefore appear in the number one slot on the ballot paper in the December 7 elections, according to the balloting carried out at the Electoral Commission (EC) yesterday.
But even before the electoral exercise was carried out, the NDC cried foul, saying the ballot box containing the papers was too transparent. The NDC National Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei took issue with the nature of the box, saying its contents would be too visible.
“Can you give us any reason why you are using a transparent object”, he questioned officials of the EC.
With this objection, which was subsequently supported by other parties, the container was changed for an opaque one.
The second candidate on the ballot paper would be Dr Edward Nasigrie Mahama of the People's National Convention (PNC), while Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would be third on the ballot paper.
Mr. Emmanuel Ansah Antwi of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) would be fourth; Mr Thomas Ward-Brew of the Democratic People's Party would be fifth, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party, sixth; Mr Kwabena Adjei of the Reformed Patriotic Democrats, seventh; while Mr Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, an independent candidate is eighth.
The positions would be the same for parliamentary candidates, with independent candidates coming after candidates of the political parties in alphabetical order.
There were two rounds of balloting. The first was to choose the order of picking the ballot to determine the order on the ballot paper.
The order for that balloting was determined by the order in which the presidential candidates filed their papers at the EC last Thursday and Friday.
During those proceedings, the NPP played a central defence of number four in the first stage of balloting to determine the order in which political parties would pick their ballots, while the National Democratic Congress defended from the left flank - third.
In his second appearance to pick the much awaited result, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey picked the number one position with his eyes firmly shut, while journalists guessed he was in deep prayer.
After that round of balloting, the RPD picked first, followed by the CPP, NDC, NPP, DFP, PNC and DPP.
Commenting, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey said the top position for their candidate showed that they had moved from “asieho” (bottom of the ballot paper in 2000) to the top, adding that this showed that the party was moving forward.
He said the party was the first to file and first on the ballot paper.
Ahmed Ramadan, National Chairman of the PNC said their second position on the ballot paper confirmed their slogan of “Two Sure; Two Direct”.
Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, National Organiser of the NDC, said their position on the ballot paper was “divine” since it showed the “Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit”.
He said they were consistent in their position of the Holy Trinity, as they picked the third position in both rounds.
Ofosu-Ampofo said the Holy Trinity position was also confirmed by the fact that this was the third time Prof. Atta Mills was contesting the presidential election and they also had three Johns playing vital roles in their presidential race, namely John Evans Atta Mills, John Dramani Mahama, and former President Jerry John Rawlings.
The other parties appeared uncomfortable with their positions on the ballot paper because of the issue of marketability.
The EC team at the function was made up of Mr David Kanga, Deputy Chairman in charge of Finance and Administration, Mr Kwadwo Safo-Kantanka, Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations and Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, Director in charge of Elections.
Arhin told journalists that the EC would now print a “Notice of Polls” and then print the ballot papers in preparation for December 7.
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE as to what it felt like to be in the number one position, the National Chairman of NPP, Peter Mac Manu noted that the balloting had been very real, adding, “We have always said that we are number one and by divine intervention today, it has been demonstrated clearly that NPP is number one”.
He stated that selling the number one position to the electorate would be easy.
“NPP is the number one party in Ghana; NPP is number one on the ballot paper and NPP will be number one in the December results,” he stressed with optimism.
Asked how the party was going to intensify its campaign with the lucky number, he said, “We are going to print dummy ballot papers straight away and distribute it to all the nook and cranny of the country for people to know the position of NPP on the ballot paper”.
Ghanaians, he assured, should expect a clear victory for the party.
DAILY GUIDE's spirited attempts to speak to Mr. Asiedu Nketia, aka General Mosquito, General Secretary of the NDC were seriously rebuffed with the comment: “I would not talk to DAILY GUIDE because they misquote me”.
All efforts to solicit his view were shrugged off: “I am saying that I am prepared to talk to anybody so long as I am confident that you will report what I say”, he noted, adding, “If I talk to you once and you turn it upside down and its repeated, I won't take you to court but I can decide whom to talk to”.
For the CPP, Mr. Ladi Nylander who had earlier told journalists that he expected to pick the number one position because that was the best place on the ballot, pointed out when it was all over that certain positions were easier to sell, “but when you are at a disadvantage sometimes, you try harder so we will try harder”.
He believed that educating the people further would help justify a worthy cause. “As a matter of fact we would have been happy with any number”.
On the part of RPD, its representative, Francis Kyei said the party was going to win since Ghana had chosen December 7 to be the date for voting. “It is going to be a seven-seven success”, he added.
Asked how the PNC was going to escape from the hooks of the two giant parties - NDC and NPP - Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan said he believed the position was a way of rubbing shoulders with them and showing that “we are of equal strength and can achieve equal distinctions”.
He stated optimistically, “We are not intimidated at all; probably some of them will even be intimidated with our presence so close to them”.
The second position, he continued, was just a confirmation of the party's slogan of “Two Sure; Two Direct”, observing that “it is going to add a little bit to our arrangements and we will make sure that we can add it to the extra work we are doing on the grounds”.
Meanwhile there was excitement in New Patriotic Party (NPP) circles across the country yesterday after it clinched the first position.
No sooner had the results of the balloting been made public than party supporters around Accra started yelling “esoro ho” to wit “the top” along the lines of “asie ho”, “the bottom”, which was the party's position on the ballot in the 2000 elections.
In the 2000 polls the NPP got the bottom position on the ballot paper and party strategists came up with the “asie ho” refrain which swept across the country with such a ferocity that it became popular within a short time.
By Nathaniel Y. Yankson