THE Great Hall of the University of Ghana, will on Saturday host a crucial Annual Delegates Conference of the ruling NPP. The most outstanding feature of the event will be decisions on the fate of some members of the party who have spent the past few months criss-crossing the country canvassing support from would be delegates for various positions to be contested at the conference. The positions are National Chairman, three National Vice-Chairmen, General Secretary, National Organiser, National Treasurer, National Women's Organiser and National Youth Organiser. GENERAL SECRETARY Constitutionally empowered with the day to day administration of the party, the post of General Secretary makes the holder the most prominent and arguably the most powerful man in the party, comparable in corporate terms to the Chief Executive Officer.
Contesting this position are Mustapha Hamid the current National Youth Organiser, Andy Appiah Kubi, former National Youth Organiser and former Deputy Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board, Abeeku Dickson, former National Youth Organiser and former Deputy Director of the National Service Secretariat, Nana Ohene Ntow, Government Spokesman for Finance and Economic Planning and Francis Kojo Smith, a legal practitioner. MUSTAPHA HAMID The youngest in the line-up, Mustapha has the advantage of being in the current executive of the party and therefore a current knowledge of and active rapport with potential delegates. This, however, comes with the baggage of being part of an administration which has been so criticized by the rank and file of the party for inactivity and insensitivity during the most glorious days of the party, 5 years in government.
His candidature has provided an opportunity to assess his performance as the National Youth Organiser, which many feel has been disappointing, his huge potential notwithstanding. He may have his excuses which he may have unveiled to his listeners on his campaign, without “Essekuing” the party or anybody. Mustapha's late entrance into the race may have taken its toll on his fortunes. Reports from the regions however show a growing interest in his manifesto and abilities, especially as far as his power of oratory has been able to convey. He remains the dark horse of the race. Chances: 6/10 ANDY APPIAH KUBI Another mainstreamer with positive party credentials for the position, Andy goes to congress on Saturday with a solid intellectual background vindicated by an enviable record as an administrative performer and achiever, with his tenure at the Ghana Free Zones Board as eloquent proof.
Listening to his incisive diagnosis of problems of the party and how to resolve them marks him out as the man for the job. However a conspiracy between his record as National Youth Organiser, which was aborted and his role in the “Aprakugate” that never was, are bound to impact negatively on his fortunes. Indeed there has been a lot of pressure on him to step down for Abeeku with whom he has such pact. Chances: 4/10 ABEEKU DICKSON A relatively late entrant into the race, Abeeku has with time, proved that the race is neither for the swift nor the most vocal. Cruising smoothly through the constituencies, he has marshaled such an awesome array of high profile and powerful personalities behind his bid that is almost frightening.
Without doubt, Abeeku, a lawyer by profession is the candidate of the back-to-basics majority for whom the NPP needs to recapture the spirit in opposition if it is to maintain the espirit d'corps and stay in power beyond 2008. With a solid record as a successful National Youth Organiser, he rejuvenated the Youth wing and established a large international network through which many youth in the party traveled abroad on courses, especially to Germany.
A dye-in-the-wool NPP with the enviable political degrees of dedication, commitment and sacrifice, he was seen as a symbol of the current NPP malaise of 'monkey work, baboon de chop,' when after a stint at the National Service Secretariat where he proved an effective reformer, he was shuffled away in favour of a “latter-day” saint, without any stated cause.
Recent attempts to get him to abandon his General Secretarial ambitions with an offer to return him to NSS as Director have been turned down so far. A quiet and smooth but effective operator, Abeeku with his solid party credentials and what he symbolises may well be the next General Secretary of the NPP. Chances: 8/10 NANA OHENE NTOW The first of the contestants to kick off his campaign, Ohene Ntow, the eloquent and convincing former Communications lecturer seems to have been in a hurry to overcome some handicaps in his bid to be General Secretary of the party, which his critics say, he denied in its hour of most need, when it was in opposition. A popular face on TV and eloquent voice on radio, he stands out of the pack as one who cannot claim to be a mainstreamer, having been associated with the NPP only as a ruling party. Indeed, he is said to have turned down offers to serve the NPP when it was in opposition and he was appointed to serve on its Communications Committee. However, since 2001, he has come across publicly as a 'work horse', serving in both two terms and being a strong member of the 2004 campaign team.
His defeat at the Akropong Constituency primaries last year was explained as a payback for his refusal in 1996 to contest the parliamentary candidature when he was proposed. His dogged determination to overcome that setback is a tribute to his persevering spirit. He has covered more ground, pressed more flesh and persuaded more delegates than any of the candidates. He is seen as having the most superior intellectual PR willpower and the eloquence to fight back enemy propaganda. He could, however, do with two strong deputies, one strong in administration and the other familiar with the grassroots. Mustapha Hamid is tipped as a possible deputy.
A stout defender of government, Ohene Ntow is however in this contest, seen as a symbol of the phenomenon of “latter-day saints” hijacking the process and reaping where party activists have sown. This baggage has been made heavier by strong charges that he is the Castle's candidate and has been liberally funded from the “big house.”
Widely seen as high on presentation, the jury is still out on his delivery. Ohene Ntow whose fortunes soared recently, now seems to need extra effort to get from the national party what the constituency party failed to give to him last year. In spite of question marks about his longetivity of service to the party, he has worked extra hard recently to win some strong opinion leaders to his side. He is one of the two favourites. Chances: 8/10 FRANCIS KOJO SMITH The oldest man in this league of youth, Francis whose campaign platform sounds more like a candidate running for the Presidency than the General Secretaryship of the ruling party will certainly have a tough time matching the stamina of his competitors, especially as the homestretch approaches.
Having lived the best part of the post – 1992 democratic dispensation in exile on account of problems with Jerry Rawlings, Kojo Smith who was famed for his strategic role in the AFRC has certainly fought a good media fight for the most active position in the NPP.
His apparent frustration with his campaign is manifested in his constant caution notes to the Castle to stay away from the party's electoral process, which he seems to find quite exacting.
There is little doubt that Sexagenarian Smith will find plenty of hate words for the party after Saturday's disappointment to him. Chances: 2/10 NATIONAL TREASURER The National Treasurer is the keeper of the party purse, which does not seem to have held much in the past five years. The aftermath of “Essekugate” and the lessons thereof is expected to witness an enhancement of the position, with the holder having more access to monies meant for the party.
The two-horse contest for this position has been anything but exciting. KWESI ARTHUR With his experience of keeping party money, having done so at the Constituency and Regional levels, Kwesi Arthur certainly has a claim to the national title. He has taken this claim very seriously and has trekked as far and wide as candidates of some of the well-fancied positions. A lot more grounds need to be covered, however, between now and the casting of the ballot, especially running against who his opponent is. Chances 7/10 GIFTY ARYEH Popularly known as “Daavi Ama” of “Dimples junction” fame, Gifty Aryeh must have sounded hugely popular until the Assembly members of Keta signaled otherwise with their rejection of her nomination by the President as DCE last year.
Until recently, when she failed to contest for re-election, she was the national treasurer for NALAG, the organisation for all 138 local governments in the country.
She has a strong personality. And, with the December 17 congress likely to focus on redefining the relationship between party and government and finding a solution to the charge of the Castle 'hijacking' party funds, the party has every reason to look not only for a strong treasurer, but also for a highly efficient and competent finance manager.
Her background, as a Voltarian and a woman, more than any characteristics, are bound to be her major advantages as she walks into the Great Hall on Saturday to engage her equally determined male contestant.
She is certainly in pole position. Yet, bBetween the two candidates, a feather could still tilt the scale. Chances: 8/10
Wednesday: Tale of the tape on National Organiser, Women's Organiser and Youth Organiser.