The Congress marks the commencement of what it says will be a resurgence and re-organization of the party after a topsy-turvy 2012-13 political season of electoral defeat and Supreme Court failure.
With an impeccable record of having gone through several crucial internal elections since 1992 without blemish, the opposition party is highly anticipated to once again pass the internal democracy test on Saturday, as it looks forward to the National Congress slated for March.
For many in the NPP, the soul searching begins on Saturday, as the outcome could have serious repercussions on the National and flagbearer contests, which will select national executives and presidential candidates.
As usual all attention will be at the Old Laundry of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) where the Ashanti Regional Congress is expected to take place.
About 32 aspirants are expected to participate in the congress which will see the selection of nine regional executives and their deputies to steer the affairs of the party in the next four years.
CLEANEST INTERNAL CAMPAIGN EVER
The New Patriotic Party (NPP), whose internal campaign has always been marred by public rancour and antagonism, has for once in several years, witnessed one of the cleanest and most decent campaign.
The aspirants have largely tried to focus on issues and what they can do for the party once elected, though occasionally, followers of the aspirants had engaged in petty squabbles, which are often expected in such high stake elections.
Enthusiasm and participation have also been described as encouraging, considering the fact that the party is entering its successive second year in opposition.
THE NANA-ALAN FACTOR
As a newspaper which has perhaps covered the perceived internal factionalism within the NPP than any other media house, The Chronicle can state authoritatively that the usual “Nana-Alan Factor” is likely to have little influence on the outcome of Saturday’s congress, more especially in the party’s stronghold.
This is due to the conscious efforts made by the top hierarchy of the party to restrict aspirants from campaigning on the wings of the two most popular personalities in the party.
The aspirants tried to run a campaign based purely on issues, though there were rumours that one of the aspirants for the Ashanti Regional Chairmanship was going round telling delegates he had the backing of the former Presidential Candidates, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo.
Sources close to the former flagbearer indicates that he has not declared open support for anyone, neither has he asked any candidate to contest on his behalf. Already, all the various aspirants have been talking tough and expressing their optimisms of winning their respective positions as they round up campaign today, ahead of tomorrow’s congress.
WONTUMI TARGETS 85% AS OSEI PREMPEH EYES 60
The two main contenders for the Regional Chairmanship slot have been telling the paper about their chances of winning the position. They are all claiming victory on the backs of intensive campaigning and assurances from the almost 900 delegates that are expected to cast their ballots at the congress today. Mr. Bernard Antwi Boasiako, a.k.a Wontumi, a business tycoon and former Bosomtwe Constituency Chairman, as well as the former Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Kwame Osei Prempeh, have both made ambitious targets, in percentage wise and are banking their hopes on achieving them.
Whilst Chairman Wontumi is promising to sweep 85 percent of the total votes, Osei Prempeh is targeting a conservatively 60 percent of the votes.
But the party appears to be in a very dicey situation as the selections, as well as the rejection of both candidates, have positive and negative repercussions on the forward movement of the party.
Both candidates bring on board unique political advantages, some of which are either mutually exclusive or inclusive, depending on how one looks at the situation.
As readers may know by now, the name Wontumi has almost been associated with doling out of cash and resources to the cash-strapped NPP.
From the sponsoring of aspirants’ nomination forms to the acquisition of imposing regional party office, Chairman Wontumi appears to have given meaning to what will be required, apart from political experience, to match the NDC boot for boot come 2016.
With Ghana’s political campaigns heavily reliant on funds and resources and the fact that not too many individuals are ready to dole out funds for the party’s activities, people like Chairman Wontumi appears to be a “Saviour” that the party needs to keep its little energy and that of the numerous foot soldiers running.
Wontumi now commands the support of the foot soldiers, some of whom are polling station agents and coordinators who may make the eventual decision on Saturday. Apart from his financial contribution, the aspirant has also been making ambitious promises of securing 80 percent of total votes in the Ashanti Region for the party, a figure which can catapult the NPP to victory if achieved.
He has additionally pledged to snatch the four “orphan seats” in the region, namely Asawase, New Edubiase, Ahafo Ano North and Drobonso from the NDC. “I have got the resources and the political strategies to achieve all these objectives once I get elected as the Chairman of this region,” he was quoted as saying on a campaign platform.
It suffices to say that his defeat could spark serious disenchantment amongst foot soldiers and grass roots supporters of the party. But opponents of Wontumi have often hammered on his “Achilles Heels” to his disadvantage.
The fact that he is not politically matured and does not know the political intricacies, an assertion he has often denied by hammering on how he dealt with the former Energy Minister, Dr. Oteng Agyei, in the Bosomtwe Constituency during the 2012 elections.
He is also labeled as “lacking academic prowess” by his opponent, an assertion he has vehemently protested by insisting that he possesses the required academic qualities, including a Secondary Certificate from the Prempeh College, a Certificate in Theology and a Course in Security from the United States of America (USA).
His opponent, Osei Prempeh, brings lots of political experience and maturity, having served as Member of Parliament for Nsuta Kwamang Constituency for 16 years. Osei Prempeh says he knows what it takes to win elections and understands the problems of the NPP perfectly to be able to solve them.
“The problem of the NPP is not about throwing monies around,” he would say, and believes the party requires someone like him, who is politically savvy to be able to revive the support base in the Ashanti Region.
Hon. Prempeh also appears to command support amongst the old folks, including some pioneer Members of Parliament in the Ashanti Region.
His supporters have often hammered on the fact that Hon. Prempeh commands respect and that he would receive the co-operation of all stakeholders within the party; including MPs, Council of Elders and Founding Members of the party.
THE REGIONAL SCRIBE
The delegates would have a hard choice of choosing between four candidates who are also seeking to occupy the Regional Secretary position.
They include the incumbent Samuel Pyne, J. K Owusu Boakye, aka ‘Abito’, Special Assistant to the MP for Old Tafo, Mr. Baffour Kojo Asiedu, a Lecturer at Kumasi Polytechnic and Abena Pokuaah Amoah, the first female candidate for the slot. Mr. Samuel Pyne possesses the advantage of incumbency, Owusu Boakye ‘Abito’, who is also a Member of the Communication Team, is likely to benefit from years of media popularity and the dexterity at which he presents his vision of paradigm shift in the role of the Regional Secretary of the party.
Mr. Baffour Kojo Asiedu, also possesses academic qualities and appears to articulate his visions well, more particularly his promise of focusing on research and administratively structuring the position to make it more effective.
Without any prejudice to gender, many people believe Abena Pokuaah Amoah, would have made a very good Women’s Organizer but the nice-looking but hard talking candidate says she will fit perfectly for the Secretary job, promising an accountability and transparency stewardship.
REGIONAL WOMEN’S ORGANIZER
Three “beautiful” women are competing for the Regional Women’s Organizer position, and they are; Nana Ama Ampoma, the former Bantama Women Organizer, aka ‘Pretty Giant’, Beatrice Owusu, aka ‘Auntie B’ and Abena Konadu Nsafoah. According to reports, the battle is likely to be a straight fight between Nana Ama Ampoma and Beatrice Owusu. The latter also served as Kwabre West Women’s Organizer.
THE REGIONAL ORGANIZER
The incumbent, Kennedy Kankam, is not likely to have a safe passage this time round and will be given a big run for his money by a Law Student and Member of the Communication Team, David Osei.
Kennedy Kankam, who successfully graduated from the Youth Organizer position to the Organizer post, is seeking a second term but must first confront articulate David Osei, who is also brimming with confidence and optimism of winning the position.
Though incumbent Kankam has one eye set on the Nhyiaeso seat which he is nursing an ambition to contest, he is not leaving anything to chance at winning the Organizer slot once again.
REGIONAL YOUTH ORGANIZER
Justice Koduah, Dennis Kwakwa and Kofi Frimpong would engage in a nervy battle for the politically-strategic Youth Organizer position. The first two contestants have had experiences in terms of youth organization as Koduah currently serves as the Deputy Youth Organizer whilst Dennis Kwakwa is the former Youth Organizer for the Mampong Constituency.
Reports indicate the battle will be between the two as observers have written off any likelihood of Kofi Frimpong, a former TESCON leader making any impact in the elections.