Kumasi, Sept. 18, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Saturday nominated Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama as his running mate for the 2004 Presidential elections. Announcing his running mate at the three-day national annual delegates conference of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Kumasi, President Kufuor said "he is a hard working and affable pillar of support for me; he has shown considerable grace under fire. I present to you my running mate for campaign 2004 and the next Vice President of Ghana, your own Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama". The delegates accepted the nomination with an acclamation and a standing ovation.
President Kufuor said before the campaign got into full gear, the conference was a suitable time to extend a hand of reconciliation and friendship to all because during the past four hectic years, some mistakes had been made and very likely some toes stepped upon. "I reach out today to all who may have been wronged and ask for forgiveness. Let us all rally together at this time, as we recognised that our common cause of uplifting Ghana is greater than anyone of us".
"I also want to thank all members of our party for their support through these difficult years. I thank especially that core group, the ever faithful and strong traditionalists of the Danquah-Busia family for continuing to be the anchor of the party. Writers of our history will never forget their endurance, courage and sacrifice. I thank them all".
President Kufuor called on Ghanaians including those in the opposition parties to join the Government "because we are moving with a vision that is not partisan. A vision that will propel our country into greatness and prosperity for all". He asked Ghanaians to hold themselves individually and collectively responsible and committed to a peaceful, free and fair elections.
To members of the party, President Kufuor said "today we are attending a conference on the eve of victory 2004. Victory we are working for, victory that we deserve and a victory that will surely be ours". "I charge you each and everyone to go back to the people of Ghana. Go in confidence but with humility, enthusiastic but not overbearing keeping in mind that ours is a tradition of service". He said, "go back to Ghanaians with the message that the Positive Change Kufuor promised is here and that it is real. Go to the people of Ghana and ask them to send Kufuor and his Party back to lead Ghana into its destiny of Freedom, Justice, Peace and Prosperity for all".
Vice President Mahama in his acceptance speech said "With humility and gratitude I accept your nomination as the running mate and the next Vice President of Ghana". He said about four years ago he was chosen by President Kufuor as the running mate to seek the mandate of the good people of Ghana to bring Positive Change, vibrant economy, better health care, social services and greater job opportunities to Ghanaians. Vice President Mahama said with responsible leadership and good governance under President Kufuor, "We have delivered our promises and Ghanaians are greatly impressed by the humility, wisdom, vision and profound understanding with which we have tackled major issues of our country". He said President Kufuor had shown exemplary leadership by not being arrogant, cynical and aggressive, Ghanaians should therefore give
President Kufuor and the NPP another four more years to continue to care for the poor masses and vulnerable in society. "We have complete judgment in the decision of our people to return us to power as the best party to develop the country in freedom. Join me to pledge to make the campaign all that we have to make President Kufuor, President for the next four years". "The elephant is battle ready, it would not be an easy fight, take the campaign to all parts of the country for a convincing victory in December 2004", he added.
Mr Harona Esseku, National Chairman of the NPP, said the national executive committee had taken note of the difficulties and problems encountered during the primaries and would address them in future. He said the party deserved a second term in office and therefore urged all members and sympathizers to join in the campaign rail.
Mr Esseku appealed to the members, supporters and sympathizers who have any problem with the Party to put them behind and refrain from "the skirt and blouse" idea of voting for President Kufuor and any Parliamentary Candidate of their choice other than the Party's Parliamentary Candidate. "Your vote should be for the Party but not any individual, anyone who votes 'skirt and blouse' would stab the Party in the heart to kill it". "Let us vote massively for convincing victory in the first round. Let us all pledge to work for one round during the election".
There were fraternal messages from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) delivered by Mr Baba Jamal, Deputy General Secretary and Mr Ludwig Hlodze, Special Assistant to the NDC flag bearer who presented a copy of the NDC manifesto "Better Ghana" to President Kufuor. Mr Mike Eghan, Second National Vice-Chairman of the Convention People's Party (CPP) delivered the Party's message while Mr John Ndebugre; First Vice-Chairman of the People's National Convention (PNC) delivered their message.