Interesting times ahead of NPP leadership contest

BY: Kobby Asmah
Mr Freddie Blay
Mr Freddie Blay

In less than three weeks, delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) across the country will converge on Koforidua to elect new national officers to lead the NPP into Election 2020 and beyond.

Though the traditional media is a bit quiet on the upcoming congress scheduled for July 5 to 7, 2018, social media is very active with various aspirants canvassing for votes from the delegates.

From the camps of Mr Freddie Blay and Mr Stephen Ntim, the front-runners for the national chairmanship, these are tense moments, with each camp eyeing the other on what games they are up to.

Mr Blay, the acting National Chairman, who is touting his credentials, having led the party to victory in the 2016 election, is leaving no stone unturned as he seeks to be retained as the substantive chair, whilst Mr Ntim strongly contends that this is his time, having served the party over the years with loyalty and commitment.

I happened to be around the NPP headquarters on Friday, June 1, 2018, where the vetting of aspirants for the national chairmanship took place. I had sent my vehicle for repairs at a nearby garage and because the NPP headquarters was a walking distance away, I decided to go there to observe proceedings; and it was a dramatic scene.

Dramatic scene

One supporter of Mr Ntim shouted at the top of her voice from one corner: ‘Time asu ooo, time asu,’ to which a Blay supporter shouted back: ‘No change, no change – Chairman one pe.’ Yet another elderly lady retorted right beside me, ‘Se Nana Addo si wabre ansa wobedi ni President aa, Ntim so so abre; munfa chairman no manuo!’ to wit: ‘If Nana Addo is saying he suffered before getting the Presidency, so has Ntim suffered; just give him the chairmanship!’

There were groups of men and women cladded in Freddie Blay-branded T-shirts all over the place, giving the impression that the acting national chairman, now seeking to be retained as substantive national chairman, would not leave the scene without a battle.

Observing NPP polls

Observing the NPP polls from a distance, one thing that keeps ringing in my head is the issue of fairness and equal opportunity for all and sundry.

So far it looks good for the party’s internal elections.

As a journalist who has covered elections over the period, I expect to see some sort of subtle manipulations in an attempt to skew the event by some supporters of the aspirants to benefit their candidate; but every bit of effort must be made to avoid organised cheating and wanton abuse of trust of leadership.

In a functional democracy, everybody must be given the right to express his or her views and opinions. Blatantly denying equal opportunity for all aspirants, organised cheating and wanton abuse of trust of leadership in particular will do no good for the NPP National Delegates’ Conference.

At this stage, the NPP must settle for a free and fair battle and no trace of unfairness must be observed at the congress.

At the end of the contest from July 5 to 7, 2018 in Koforidua, the NPP must witness the best forms of democratic norms and behaviour.

Indeed, July 5 to 7, 2018 must go down in NPP history as the day fairness and equal opportunity for all and sundry was at its best and not thrown to the dogs.

Democratic norms

The day of the congress must be an auspicious day, where democratic norms should be witnessed at their best.

NPP delegates, over to you! It is your call to duty.

One thing that must be made clear is that incumbency must endeavour to settle for a free and fair battle.

Clearly, these are interesting times for the NPP leadership contest. But whatever it is, it must be clean and fair for the best person or persons to win on the day.