As the term for the National Steering Committee the New Patriotic Party (NPP), draws to an end in September this year, when the party is expected to hold its National Annual Delegates Conference, some aspirants to the various offices have unofficially hit the campaign trail.
There is no provision like a political off-season in the party's constitution, barring this. National Chairman So far, two aspirants have set their eyes on the National Chairman, Mr. Harona Esseku's seat.
The First Vice-Chairperson of the party, Mr. Stephen Ntim, 47-year old business tycoon from the Brong Ahafo Region, is one of these.
The other is the Western Regional Chairman of the party, Mr. Mac Manu. Stephen Ntim: had already, donated ten Opel caravan vehicles, to the regional offices of the party. Whether the donation is meant to up his standing in the party for the purposes of closing in on his ambition, or the timing is just coincidental to his aspirations is not very clear. Not much was gathered in terms of political achievements within the party; however, his latter day generosity may turn some support his way. He seems to be covering more grounds by the day in a pre campaign lobbying.
He was sighted holding meetings with the Western Regional and constituency executives of the party last weekend.
He is also believed to have the backing of the President. That in it self may be either a negative or positive influence. Mr. Mac Manu twice delivered the Western Region to the party. In 2000, he spearheaded the party to win 9 out of the region's 19 seats, and helped deliver one to the CPP's candidate, Mr. Freddie Blay, while in 2004 out of the 22 seats he delivered 12 to his party, and 2 to the CPP, with the NDC taking the remaining 8. He is believed to have a large constituency, spanning the Ashanti Region, where he hails from, and the Western Region where his tenure has seen the fortunes of the NPP glitter. He also has the support of the youth. Political observers are however, unsure of how an election of Mr. Mac Manu, an Ashanti from Ejisu, would impact on the fortunes of the party, since the party has been striving to erase a perception of its 'Ashantiness'. This, it is believed would be an onerous task for the party, since having an Ashanti for a president and party chairman would feed deep into that perception. He has an uphill task ahead. Nevertheless, he is tipped to win the slot. Meanwhile Mr. Harona Esseku, the current Chairman is also seeking re-election. It is not clear if he still has the support of the President this time round. It would be recalled that Mr. Esseku was widely believed to have won the seat he occupies now, with the support of President Kufuor, who strategically relocated the then leading aspirant for the position, Prof. Mike Oquaye to India. Prof. Oquaye has since his return, secured a Parliamentary seat and been rewarded with an important ministerial position- Minister of Energy. The Chairman position of the party, over the last four terms had been occupied by two Gas, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey and Mr. S. A. Nii Odoi-Sykes and two Fantes, Mr. B. J. Da Rocha, and the current Chairman, Mr. Harona Esseku. General secretary For the position of General Secretary, the three early names that came up are, Mr. Lord Commey, the National Organizer, Mr. Kwadwo Afari, the Press Secretary, and the Acting General Secretary, Mr. Eddie Annan. Other names that are coming up are, Mr. Andy Appiah-Kubi, of the Ghana Free Zones Board, and Mr. Abeiku Dickson of the National Service Secretariat, both of them had been National Youth Organizers of the Party, with Abeiku succeeding Andy. Abeiku is a Fante, whilst Andy is an Ashanti. Mr. Eddie Annan: The 65-year old Acting General Secretary of the NPP (he was confirmed yesterday at an emergency National Executive Committee meeting) is accepted as somebody who had played a very active role in the party since 1992, when the party was formed. He had been involved in the party nationally as well. It is believed in certain constituencies within the party, that if the position should be given to a dedicated and committed member, then he must be returned to hold the position he is acting in now, in a substantive form. Kwadwo Afari: Mr. Kwadwo Afari, the Press Secretary, though has confirmed his intentions to contest for the position of General Secretary, would not say if he has started a survey of the turf. He believes it is early days yet, and when asked for his chances of winning the position, he would be vying for, Mr. Afari went philosophical saying, “People should be humble, as party positions are not about individual ambitions, but for the collective good of the party.” Mr. Lord Commey, the 35-year old National Organizer of the party would not categorically confirm setting his eyes on the General Secretary position even though his name has come up. According to him he has work to do, and that is where his focus is. He indicates that between now and September there is a lot of work to do and therefore positions must not be compromised to enable an effective transition. He said the onerous responsibility now is to hold a united front, as the party enters a transitional phase.
It is believed by insiders of the party that Lord Commey has going for him as National Organizer, the results of the last elections to show.
This he seem to be very much aware of, as his response to a question as to how he was likely to fare in the event he made up his mind he responded, “if it came to that I expect to be judged by what I have achieved while in office”.
Appiah-Kubi and Abeiku Dickson: Two names that have just come up for the position of General Secretary are Mr. Andy Appiah-Kubi, of the Ghana Free Zones Board, and Mr. Abeiku Dickson of the National Service Secretariat, both of them had been National Youth Organizers of the Party, with Abeiku succeeding Andy. Party insiders observe that between the two Abeiku had been more active in the party than Andy. Boakye Agyarko: Meanwhile, the North American Coordinator of the party, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, whose name came up as someone interested in the General Secretary position has indicated has dismissed the speculation, saying he would not contest. National Women's organizer/SECRETARY Ms. Rita Asobayire and Ms Tina Mensah, so far seem to be holding their own for their respective positions of National Women's Organizer, and National Women's Secretary.
Other influences Meanwhile, the positions up for grabs would not be won by the strengths of the aspirants alone.
Those who have their eyes set on the presidential slot would be aligning themselves to candidates for the various positions.
The weight of a presidential aspirant would also feed into the equation.
The names of the former Finance Minister, and now Minister of Education and Sports, Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Nana Akuffo Addo, the Minister for Trade and Industry Mr. Alan Kyerematen, and the Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, have all come up.
If all of them really have their eyes on the presidential slot and have the stomach, they would want to ensure they get some contestants in strategic positions. Some of them have started some moves already, contacting opinion leaders.
That would be another subject matter.
It is early days yet and more names are expected to come up in due course for the nine National Steering Committee office positions and the new ones that constitutional amendments are expected to introduce.
Meanwhile, other members would want to wait for the outcome of the mini congress that comes off next month, and is expected to create two or three positions such as Deputy General Secretary and Deputy National Organizer.
One of these is Mr. John Boadu, the National Youth Treasurer. Perhaps he wants a gradual climb up the ladder, or has not got a big heart to go for the ultimate positions, that are expected to be contested fiercely. The dynamics in the NPP, as a party in power is certainly going to be different from the NPP in opposition. This is just the beginning!