Defining moment for NPP on Saturday
Delegates of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) go to the polls on Saturday to elect a flag bearer in a defining moment for the party towards the 2024 general election.
The second stage of the flagbearer election process, this time involving just four out of the initial 10, will set the stage for a campaign that seeks to perpetuate the NPP in power beyond the eight-year cycle witnessed in the Fourth Republic.
It is the moment of truth for the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong; Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; a former Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and a former MP for Mampong in the Ashanti Region, Francis Addai-Nimoh, who survived the Super Delegates Conference on August 26 this year.
It will be the first flagbearership contest within the NPP since 2007 without the presence of Alan Kyerematen, a founder member of the party who has since quit the NPP and is now pursuing a presidential dream as an Independent candidate.
Mr Kyerematen complained about intimidation and assault on his polling agents and other supporters, claiming also that the contest was not held on a fair and level ground.
Based on that, he pulled out of the November 4 contest and also resigned from the NPP to contest as an independent aspirant in the December 2024 general election.
The party also called off a run-off intended to break the tie between Mr Addai-Nimoh and Boakye Agyarko for the fifth position on September 2 after Mr Agyarko pulled out of that contest, citing concerns that bordered on legalities.
Consequently, the contestants for Saturday's election were left with four aspirants instead of five.
In the August 26 poll, Dr Bawumia proved a dominant force as he obtained 68 per cent of the votes of over 900 delegates, which marked him out as the man to beat.
However, in Saturday's contest, over 200,000 delegates are expected to cast their votes to elect the flag bearer of the party.
This time, the delegates are made up of the grass roots of the party, which include polling station executives, electoral area coordinators and constituency executives.
With the expanded voter population for the final round of the race, the contest promises to be an interesting one, with the promise of a surprise if polls being run by various quarters are anything to go by.
Indeed, some political watchers and analysts have said that the race is between Dr Bawumia and Mr Agyapong.
Some delegates, in separate interactions with the Daily Graphic, said they would look at competence and experience, general appeal to the public, ability to win the 2024 elections, the financial clout to prosecute the party's campaign and ethnicity and religious background in that order.
They stated further that although there was a caution against campaigning along religious and ethnic lines, those factors would be key going into the 2024 general election, and that those elements could not be wished away.
Already, there has been open endorsement from both serving and former government officials, as well as some former party executive and MPs for Dr Bawumia although the rules of the process frown on this act.
However, some delegates said they would defy the system and vote for a new face to lead the party in the 2024 elections.
The campaign spokespersons for the four aspirants have expressed optimism about winning Saturday's contest following their interactions with the party delegates.
They all claimed their campaign messages had been well received by the delegates, and come Saturday they would receive the nod.
However, the race is expected to be a close contest between Dr Bawumia and Mr Agyapong per our interactions with the delegates.
The Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye-led Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) tasked to conduct the election has given an assurance of a transparent, free and fair polls with the assistance of the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Ghana Police Service.
The EC and the police are solely responsible for the conduct of the election and security respectively.
The party, in the operational guidelines released by the PEC, indicated that for a contestant to be validly elected, the candidate must obtain more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast.
It said where, however, no candidate obtained more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast, there shall be a run-off between the first two contestants, and the contestant with a simple majority shall be the party’s presidential candidate.
It added that in the event that two leading contestants obtained the same number of votes but failed to obtain more than the 50 per cent threshold, a run-off election will be conducted to resolve the tie. The entire delegates will vote to break the tie.
It said in the event that one contestant secured the highest number of votes without reaching more than the 50 per cent threshold, and two other contestants tied for second place, a run-off election will be conducted between the two candidates to determine the winner who shall then contest a run-off with the original winner to select the final winner.
A date shall be set for the same delegates to vote to select a winner.
If a tie should re-occur, a ballot supervised by the EC shall be conducted.
With the above guidelines, the four flagbearer hopefuls and their campaign teams have indicated that they are not leaving any stone unturned to win the contest and lead the party into another election.
The grounds for the level of optimism expressed by the various camps of the aspirants would be known on Saturday in the election that would take place in all the 276 constituencies, including the yet-to-be-created Guan Constituency in the Oti Region and the party headquarters in Accra, bringing the total voting centres to 277.