Nana, Jake call for healthy primaries
Ahead of the New Patriotic Party's historic nationwide parliamentary primaries which takes place Saturday, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2012 Presidential Candidate of the party, and Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, National party Chairman, have urged all the aspirants, delegates and other stakeholders to “have healthy primaries and continue to show to the country that we are a united force, deserving of their mandate”.
In a joint statement issued on behalf of the entire membership of the party, the two party leaders also extended their best wishes to the delegates, as well as the parliamentary hopefuls and urged them to remain committed to the various efforts that have been made since 2008 to ensure the success of the exercise.
The statement particularly urged the delegates to be guided by the successes, including the 2009 constitutional amendments, chalked by the party since 2008, warning that these might come to nothing if the parliamentary primaries were not conducted “with competence, maturity, spirit de corps and unity of purpose.”
The two party bigwigs reminded the delegates about the 2010 presidential primary which saw over 107,000 delegates electing a flag bearer, the first of its kind anywhere in Africa, taking place simultaneously in all constituencies nation-wide without any negative incident.
This, in their opinion, should serve as a guide and a motivating factor for the delegates to ensure the unity within the party is maintained and strengthened.
The statement further urged delegates to be guided by the NPP's ultimate objective which is to win power in the 2012 general election “and deliver for the Ghanaian people a brighter future and enhanced governance.”
This is the first time the party is holding its parliamentary primaries across the country at the same time. It is also the first in the country's political history.
The primaries are being held in all but 10 of the 230 constituencies. The exercise has been suspended in the Nkawkaw, Bekwai, Bosome-Freho, Zebila, Talensi, Jirapa, Sege, Sisala East and West, Sege and Obom-Domeabra constituencies for what party officials say is “strategic reasons”.
A total of 516 parliamentary aspirants, including 64 women, are contesting the primaries, with over 123,000 delegates expected to cast their votes to elect who represents the party as the 2012 parliamentary candidates in their respective constituencies. There will be no contests in 73 constituencies where the aspirants are running unopposed.
In February this year, Nana Akufo-Addo and Jake Obetsebi Lamptey embarked on a nation-wide tour to help the party to properly manage the upcoming parliamentary primaries.
The party, fully aware of how problems associated with the 2008 parliamentary primaries cost it dearly in the general elections, was determined to do whatever is legitimate and possible to ensure free, fair, disciplined and cordial contests in all constituencies.
The Presidential Candidate and National Chairman met with all the parliamentary hopefuls, resolved potential or outstanding disputes and read out the riot act.
The early primaries are expected to help give the party sufficient time to resolve any possible fallout from the race.
In 2009, the party undertook a series of constitutional reforms, including increasing the number of delegates for parliamentary primaries, at least four-fold. This means that all polling station executives will take part in choosing who represents the party in their various constituencies.
It is anticipated that this will inspire greater acceptability of whoever emerges from the process as candidate. The party is determined to have, as much as possible, problem-free parliamentary primaries.
Indeed, it was because of this that the National Executive Committee of the party resolved to hold all 230 primaries on the same day. In the past, primaries were staggered to allow regional executives to personally supervise the constituency contests.
But, the party has taken the decision that it is better to employ the Electoral Commission to supervise all the 230 contests. The EC conducted the historical August 7, 2010 presidential primary which saw Nana Akufo-Addo winning by nearly 80%.
But, getting the EC to do it comes with a heavy price tag, which is one of the reasons why the party had to significantly increase the filing fee this time.
On the average the Electoral College has shot up more than four times from an average of 80 delegates, prior to 2009, to about 460 delegates per constituency after the constitutional amendments were carried out.
The polls open at 9am and closes at 2pm. However, should there be queues of delegates who have not cast their votes at the close of voting, they will be allowed to vote before counting of the ballot begins.