All things being equal, the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress is said to be waiting to spring a huge surprise on the ranks and file of the party with the man he has chosen to be his running mate for the 2004 Elections. Unreachable sources within the hierarchy of the NDC have revealed that the Prof. has settled on a popular figure within circles but who is largely unknown to the local rank and file.
He is in the person of Alfred Vanderpuiye, a former chairman of the United States of America branch of the NDC. Mr Vanderpuye, who is believed to have important links to the space programme in the united states, currently lectures at the Richard One South Carolina capital School in the United States. Well placed sources in the party hinted the SEARCHLIGHT that already the Prof. has introduced his surprise choice, who is largely unknown figure locally, to the senior party officials including the founder of the NDC, Flt. Lt. JJ Rawlings, Dr. Obed Asamoah, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu and Dr. Kwesi Botwe. The SEARCH also learned that individual discussions have been going on between the National Executive Committee(NEC) members individually to await the formal official meeting between NEC some where next week after the completion of the refurbishment of the conference room at the party headquarters.
This newspaper also learnt that Prof. Mills will use the launching of the launching of the NDC campaign Cape Coast to name the candidate (running mate) at the launching day. The source said, "when we were hinted of the name we all felt very happy and proud to belong to give Ghana and Ghanaians the best! "This is a person that can be a match to the Prof, and we hope he will give us much clout. He is fit on tribal, religious, geographical lines. He also bridges the gap between the youth and the elderly," the source added.
The decision to go in for Mr. Vanderpuye, the SEARCHLIGHT learned, is based on sound and cold-blooded dispassionate calculation. The decision is based, we learned, in going for someone who carries similar clout in the party to the best in the party locally, but who is largely unstained by the messy politics that prevailed in Ghana over the last eleven and a half years. Again, Mr Vanderpuye is believed to be the key to much heavy funding from the USA branch of the party.
A well-known figure in the US, he is believed to be capable of bringing in further funding where necessary. Like Martin Amidu before in 2000, Vanderpuye is believed to be largely Mills' choice , although he has had to bargain and lobby in order to sell him to other party gurus. A Ghanaian with Ga-Fante parentage, the South-South ticket is expected to be off-set with more prominence being given to senior northern members of the party as well as drumming home the message that competence should be a higher bench mark as opposed to ensuring regional balance at the top.
Again, Mr. Vanderpuye's freshness on the scene, like Aliu Mahama for the NPP in 2000, should pose a problem for the pro-NPP press, who may find it highly impossible finding any publishable dirt on him. Vanderpuye has an academic background similar to Prof Mills and just as distinguished. The announcement that Vanderpuye is the man is likely to be made in the next few weeks when Prof Mills officially launches his campaign at Capa Coast, the central regional capital. With barely 179 weeks to election 2004 most analysts have been wondering and speculating as to who will partner Prof Mills, in the coming general elections.
Due to to this most of the newspapers have often speculated on names like the former Communications Minister Mr John Mahama, former Employment Minister Mohammed Mumuni, Prof Wayo Seini and recently Dr Mahama Alhassan of the CPP. All these candidates had their names cropping up because of this strong standing in the northern part of Ghana.
Again their affiliation is Islam (with the exception of John Mahama) gave the needed geographical, tribal and religious balance that is enshrined in the constitution. A selection of any of the previous candidates would have boosted the support base of the NDC in the Moslem community, and further hurt the fading support of the ruling NPP government in the three northern regions due to the unresolved gruesome murder of the the paramount chief of Dagbon.
Vanderpuye has won many international awards and has a space center built in his honour at Richland One Capital School in South Carolina. He is a chief in the Edina Traditional Area in the central region, and recently visited Ghana in the past few weeks