The race for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearership appears, to have quickened up, as more candidates seek the support of the main power broker in the party, former President Jerry John Rawlings. The latest candidate is Mr. Eddie Annan, a business mogul with a hand in a number of businesses.
However, Mr. Rawlings is set to dump his once “anointed” former Vice President and thrice defeated flagbearer, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, as the former President shops for a “winnable” candidate. Even though the Office of the former President had denied media reports that Mr. Rawlings was supporting some people in the party to go for the NDC flagbearership, Daily Guide can authoritatively state that the NDC founder, is encouraging certain people in the party to run, including Mr. Eddie Annan, who dominated front pages of newspapers in recent times.
Daily Guide learnt that the formal announcement by Mr. Annan, in yesterday's Daily Graphic and the release of a statement from the Office of the former President distancing himself from supporting any candidate, was not a coincidence as Mr. Annan of Masai Group of Companies enjoys the support of the Rawlingses. The suave business man with a penchant for litigation is known to have donated a new Buick Riviera, a luxury American car to the Rawlingses.
The statement issued from Rawlings' Office, signed by his Special Assistant Victor Smith, said The NDC founder had no preference for any candidate in the party, describing media reports linking the former President to any potential candidate for the NDC flagbearership as fabrications.
“He has not by word or deed indicated his preference for any person as yet,” Mr. Smith said.
However, Daily Guide can confirm that Mr. Rawlings, on a number of occasions, had encouraged certain people to stand for the party's topmost position, believing that Prof Mills cannot lead the party to the Promised Land. The former President has more than once described Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Chief Executive Officer of the London-based Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) as the next President of Ghana.
In one of his trips to London last year, Mr. Rawlings reportedly visited the CTO headquarters and announced to the staff that Dr. Spio-Garbrah was going to be the next President of Ghana. He repeated the sentiments in Accra when Spio-Garbrah visited Ghana with his CTO Chairman. At a dinner at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra, Rawlings declared his support for Spio in the presence of his boss.
Sources said the dinner was a private one between Spio-Garbrah and his boss but suddenly Mr. Rawlings and his family surfaced and he walked straight to Spio's table, informing the CTO Chairman of his desire to support Spio, signalling the withdrawal of support for Prof Mills, whom the former President had earlier described as a “simpa payin”, an elder without influence. He accused Prof Mills of allowing himself to be controlled by the Fante Confederacy in the party.
Even though Prof Mills' camp in the party thinks that the former vice president is inarguably the most known face in the party, Mr. Rawlings does not want to hear any of that, setting his mind on replacing the thrice defeated flagbearer.
Goaded by Rawlings' support, Spio plunged into an overdrive when he launched a media blitz to declare his interest in the NDC slot. He launched an attack on Prof Mills also, declaring him as a third time loser, a statement which he later claimed emanated from the party.
Speaking on the NDC presidential race yesterday, following the announcement by Mr. Eddie Annan, Victor Smith said as far as he was concerned, only Spio and Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu had informed the former president about their intentions to lead the party. He said the former president was encouraging more people to contest for the NDC flagbearership.
However, he said the NDC founder who is also the chairman of the Council of Elders of the party, must have a say in who becomes the flagbearer. “It is important and only proper as the chairman of the Council of Elders and founder to give him the respect by informing him,” he told Paul Adom-Otchere of CitiFM. According to him, the grassroot supporters of the party know only one person, who is seen as the embodiment of the party and that anybody who ignored the Rawlings factor was doomed to fail. The former President, Victor noted, would lead the campaign, saying that those who want his endorsement cannot open their mouths against him.
He explained that Jerry threw his weight behind Prof Mills for the 2004 elections because of his problem with the former Chairman of the party, Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah. Dr. Asamoah, Victor Smith said, was not straightforward, therefore Mr. Rawlings had to step in to straighten things. He denied that Mr. Rawlings had shifted his support to Mr. Eddie Annan, who incidentally, is also the mentor of Prof Mills.
Daily Guide learnt that Mr. Annan's foray into the NDC Presidential race was because of his conviction that Prof Mills had not gotten what it takes to win the presidency of Ghana. Sources said Mr. Annan who virtually bankrolled Prof Mills' campaign for the 2004 election, was disappointed by the defeat of the former Vice President. He was said to have lined up an elaborate programme to usher in a Mills victory, with custom-made white dresses and talcum powder.
Mr. Annan now thinks that the mantle of leadership should be handed over to him to battle the ruling regime, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the presidency. Other people eyeing the NDC flagbearership are Hon. John Dramani Mahama, MP for Bole-Bamboi and NDC Director of Communications who does not enjoy the founder's support and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, wife of the founder.