Accra, Nov. 8, Statesman -- OBED Yao Asamoah, National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress, may be in for more trouble than he currently realises in his bid to ensure the growth of the NDC but not in the founder's image.
The Statesman can reveal that former President Jerry Rawlings has compiled a list of his favourites for each national executive position in the party, and is bent on seeing them elected into those key positions. Their task is to beat the current Chairman into oblivion and then serve as Mr Rawlings' campaign hit squad to win power from the New Patriotic Party in December 2008. Ominously for Dr Asamoah, just two people on the list of 27 names, seen by The Statesman, are members of the current executive.
Reliable sources in the Party told this paper that the former president sees the task to influence the next executive membership of the Party as a “kind of life and death situation. The target is to get Obed out. Period.”
The contest for national executive positions has been so shrouded in suspicion that any candidate who shows signs of pseudo-independence is viewed by Mr Rawlings as of the 'Obed Camp,' our sources maintain.
And, the most important task so far, as far as Mr Rawlings is concerned, is to remove Dr Obed Asamoah from a position where he could even be faintly seen as remotely controlling the affairs of the NDC. “Call it political paranoia,” a source close to Dr Obed Asamoah told this paper.
Already the second part of the 'Get The Against People Out' campaign has started. At the weekend, the National Women's Organiser, who has won the title 'Hurricane Assiam', was thrown out when she showed up to supervise the Party's Regional Women and Youth elections at Cape Coast. The harassment against Frances Assiam at Cape Coast was allegedly organised by serial caller and Rawlings disciple, Jemima Anita De-Souza.
As far as the Rawlings hit squad goes, Mr Rawlings' preferred choices for Chairman are all from the Volta Region. The calculation is that to defeat the incumbent the contender must also come from the Region from which the Party draws its greatest strength, the Volta Region.
For the position of National Chairman, Mr Rawlings would like to see either Kwabena Adjei, the last Majority Leader in the last term of the NDC government, or Hudson Ablordepey, owner of Volta View hotel.
James Victor Gbeho, a former Foreign Affairs Minister and independent MP for the Anlo Constituency, widely seen as strong enough to withstand the Obed 'threat,' is not on the list. His highly questionable loyalty to the Party, after contesting the last two consecutive elections as an independent candidate, is likely to see him fall at the vetting stage.
Though Mr Ablordepey's deep pockets are considered a very important factor, Dr Adjei appears to have the edge over him. His candidature is said to be especially welcome, having been a Member of Parliament for Biakoye in the Volta Region– ironically, the very constituency Dr Asamoah represented in the Third Republican Parliament. Rawlings strategists see his presence in the race for Chairman, given his popularity in the party, as likely to split Dr Asamoah votes.
Another name that has come up for National Chairman, but which is also not on the list, is Fred Ohene Kena, currently Eastern Regional Chairman of the party and former Minister for Mines. Mr Ohene Kena, whose ministerial appointment was terminated in rather embarrassing circumstances by President Rawlings, is, interestingly, another strong Rawlings loyalist. However, his hailing from the Eastern Region was a major mark against him, insiders told this paper.
Enoch Tei Mensah, MP for Ningo-Prampram and former Youth and Sports Minister; Saeed Sinare, disappointed parliamentary candidate for Ayawaso Central in the 2004 election; J H Owusu Acheampong, former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs; Ibrahim Adam, recently released after serving time in the Nsawam Prisons; Farouk Braimah, former Deputy Minister for Environment, Science and Technology; Kofi Awoonor; and Hilda Salifu, have all found favour in the sight of Mr Rawlings and have been short-listed for the position of Vice Chair persons. Under the NDC constitution, there are several Vice Chairpersons, chosen to represent the various regions.
Only Mr Tei Mensah and Prof Awoonor are members of the current executive. Bede Ziedeng, acting General Secretary, will not be in office at the end of the NDC's National Delegates Congress, a date and venue for which is still being decided, according to our sources, if Mr Rawlings has his way. Kofi Portuphy, former National Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation, is the preferred choice for General Secretary.
Hurricane Assiam, current Women's Organiser, is naturally in the line of fire. Arguably Mr Rawlings' worst nightmare in recent times, Ms Assiam is marked for liquidation, to be replaced by Ama 'Chavez' Benyiwa Doe, former MP for Gomoa West and former Deputy Minister for Employment and Social Welfare. A lady whose verbal and physical upper cuts have made her a radio star on the Akan-speaking stations, she is expected to heckle her way quite effortlessly to replace Hurricane Assiam, who is highly tipped to quit the NDC.
National Organiser Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Deputy General Secretary Baba Jamal, National Youth Organiser Haruna Iddrisu and Research Director Ato Ahwoi are all set to lose their jobs if the Rawlings blitz blows through the party. Other names that have turned up for consideration for various executive positions are Johnson Asiedu Nketia, popularly known as General Mosquito, former deputy Minister for Agriculture and MP for Wenchi West and lately studio panellist on some of Accra's radio stations, for National Propaganda Secretary or General Secretary; Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, disappointed parliamentary candidate for Odododiodio, and whose charge of committing electoral malpractice is still before the courts, for National Youth Organiser; Hannah Tetteh, former MP for Awutu, for Deputy National Treasurer; and Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Special Assistant to John Evans Atta Mills, for Deputy General Secretary.
Even radio 'serial callers' are being considered. Peter Tee, a serial caller who claims to live in Ablekuma Central, and Jemima Anita De-Souza are both potential national officers. While Peter has been penciled in by Mr Rawlings for Deputy National Organiser, Anita is the preferred candidate for Deputy National Women's Organiser.