NPP inches towards showdown
What was considered a foregone event has become a highly anticipated contest that promises a showdown in every sense as four candidates head into Saturday’s final stage of the presidential primary of the New Patriotic Party.
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who emerged a dominant force in the initial round in the race to lead the party into the 2024 general election, is facing what political watchers view as a major test, coming face to face with the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong; former Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and former MP for Mampong in Ashanti Region, Francis Addai-Nimoh.
Such are the dynamics within the projections that Dr Bawumia’s solid performance in the earlier round may count for little as the party heads into a stage that involves 220,000 party delegates as opposed to the 923 delegates that gave him 68 per cent endorsement on August 26.
According to a poll by Global Info Analytics, a market research company, Dr Bawumia is still in the lead.
His closest contender, according to the poll, remains Mr Agyapong, a businessman cum politician, whom the opposition National Democratic Congress’s Director of Legal Affairs, Godwin Edudzi Tameklo, has described as a more formidable challenge to the NDC’s 2024 elections prospects.
Mr Tameklo said Mr Agyapong’s “unconventional” style came as a complicated package that promised nothing but could deliver anything.
The MP has spared no effort in distancing himself from the performance of the current government, stressing that he was not one of the aspirants who served under the Akufo Addo administration.
That veiled swipe at Dr Bawumia, who is Head of the current Economic Management Team (EMT), has been Mr Agyapong’s biggest promise of hope to the populace beyond the remit of the NPP, boasting further that he had handled his personal enterprises better than the EMT had handled the national economy.
Despite that, Dr Bawumia’s profile as an economist, an eloquent communicator and one who brings unity among the various religious groupings has been touted as a strong point.
His supporters further mention him as a tried and tested candidate for complementing the Akufo-Addo ticket when the NPP prosecuted the presidential bid in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020.
Dr Afriyie Akoto touts his days at the Food and Agriculture Ministry where he presided over the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs as evidence of his competence.
He is known for his strong views on the performance of the food sector, claiming at a point that local staples were selling at cheap prices on the market although opposition voices and market figures suggested otherwise.
Yesterday, he tried to woo party faithful with the message that he would entice disillusioned members and defectors back into their fold should he receive the nod.
Mr Addai-Nimoh, a civil engineer, has hardly enjoyed the hype that his competitors have received.
He owes his place in the contest partly to the withdrawal of Boakye Agyarko, with whom he tied in fifth place in the earlier round of the contest.
His refusal to withdraw from the race despite receiving just nine votes in the August 26 contest has failed to encourage the support base about his qualities.
Mr Agyapong, who has been MP since 2000, is also the Chairperson of the Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament.
The Assin Central legislator some time last year unveiled a campaign slogan for his presidential bid with the acronym PHD, which referred to patriotism, honesty and discipline.
He said the three attributes, which would be given priority in his government, were key to moving the country forward.
Mr Agyapong, at his recent Showdown Walk to galvanise support in Kumasi, Takoradi and the most recent in Cape Coast last Saturday, said he stood for the youth, and would work to ensure that they were gainfully employed in all sectors of the economy when given the nod to lead the NPP and subsequently voted for as the President of the country.
"I stand for the youth of this party, and by extension, the youth of Ghana, and my humble request is that you vote for me on November 4 so that I can lead the NPP and win the 2024 elections to carry out the transformation of this country," he said.
Mr Agyapong said the country had good arable land and the needed environment, as well as the human resources, to carry out agro-processing, large-scale farming and the production and assembly of vehicles.
"God has been kind to us for us to have good land, raw materials and the intellect to develop our own vehicles, and so I am convinced that we shall do better than the Asian countries when I am given the opportunity to lead this party and the country," he stated.
Dr Afriyie Akoto, who has been the Minister of Food and Agriculture since 2017 until his resignation in January this year to focus on his presidential ambitions, said his vision of using agriculture as the bedrock to develop other sectors of the economy, as well as his ambitious project of establishing businesses for the NPP, were so practical that when given the nod to implement them, Ghanaians would feel the change that they had been craving for all these years.
The two-term MP for Kwadaso in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, starting from 2009, said Ghana needed an economic policy that would make the country focus and invest in agriculture to provide the needed jobs for the teeming youth.
He said having toured the length and breadth of the country, and experienced the low morale of the people as a result of the economic difficulties they were going through, he was more energised at this moment in his life to break the general principles of business and management, and make life meaningful for all.
Mr Addai-Nimoh, who is contesting the flagbearer position for the second time, the first in 2014, said when given the nod to lead the party and subsequently as the President, he would run an efficient and effective public sector and cut expenditure.
He said as an engineer, he would also focus on improving the road infrastructure to open up the country since it played a critical role in the transportation of goods and service to boost the local economy and for investment.
He said his vision for the party was to set up income generating ventures in all the constituencies to support the activities of members, as well as ensure fair and equitable distribution of resources at the grass-roots level.
The Executive Director and Head of Global Research, Global Info Analytics, Mussa Dankwah, told the Daily Graphic that its October 26, 2023, NPP delegates opinion polls still put Dr Bawumia ahead in the lead-up to the party’s second round of presidential primary.
He said the final opinion poll showed Dr Bawumia leading the race with 43.5 per cent, and his closest challenger, Mr Agyapong, with 23.5 per cent, while Mr Addai-Nimoh and Dr Afriyie Akoto took the third and fourth positions with 0.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.
He said 14.0 per cent of the delegates declined to disclose who they would vote for even though they had made the decision, while 18.3 per cent said they were undecided.
Mr Dankwah said Dr Bawumia was likely to get more than the 50 per cent votes because he was only 6.5 per cent shy of the 50 per cent, and that there was a lot more people who were undecided, and it was much easier for him to cross with 6.5 per cent.
“It is on this basis we are saying that Dr Bawumia is likely to win the elections with a range of 58 per cent plus or minus two per cent,” he said.
Meanwhile, two political analysts, Prof. Kobby Mensah, an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Ghana Business, and Dr George Asekere, a Political Science lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, also affirmed that Dr Bawumia would win the election because he has been part of the system and that is what the system wants.