The National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Freddie Wosemeiwu Blay, has urged members with ambition for various positions in the party, including the flagbearership “not to steal the start for they might be disqualified.”
He said the party came back from an election that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo won “emphatically with over 500,000 votes difference but with an almost hung Parliament, therefore, their focus should be on supporting the President to execute his plans for the people in his second term.
Likening the party to an Olympic games field discipline, he said the party was not against members being ambitious and having interest in occupying various positions, but “we should not be reckless and indecent” in a manner that would injure the internal cohesion and peace required to steer the state of affairs of the nation till 2024.
Mr Blay was speaking exclusively to the Daily Graphic about recent jostling by supporters of some leading members of the NPP who have reared their heads and started clandestine campaign for the position of flag bearer, less than 100 days after the swearing into office of President Akufo-Addo.
Mr Blay noted that the party could not act currently but offer advice because none of those whose names had cropped up had personally owned up for the campaign materials and said it could be from their admirers or their opponents or even opponents of the NPP who had started distributing such materials.
Posters and flyers of Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, and the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, have gone viral on social media.
Apart from Dr Akoto who said he had not started campaigning, none had commented on the issue.
“We are asking people to hasten slowly and should not peak before the time,” Mr Blay stated, explaining that they should undertake activities that would not disrupt the activities of the government and introduce a factional fight within the NPP.
“The ship of state is under the captainship of Nana Akufo-Addo and those who might aspire to take over from him should nurture that ambition but should be measured and not reckless. We should avoid unbridled ambition that will not consume them alone but the entire party,” he advised.
He referred to the 2007 episode where 17 aspirants, majority of them ministers of state, jostled for the flagbearership of the party which “I would say was not in the best interest of the party.”
In the 2007 presidential primaries, 17 leading members of the NPP, majority of them serving ministers of state, staked their claim to contest the flagbearership of the party to succeed President John Agyekum Kufuor. Though the ministers were made to resign, it was believed that that contributed greatly to the defeat of the party in the 2008 polls.
Mr Blay stated that it was said that the current situation had arisen because it was those early starters with indecent haste that were making it look like the leadership was not cracking the whip.
He advised that their approach should be measured and properly timed, explaining that it was not that the leadership could not crack the whip but the issue was such that unrelated people could be putting out stories and posters of some leading members just to dent their chances and cause disaffection for them.
He said that style was very possible in the current dispensation where media publicity and diversity abound, especially the proliferation of social media, which could afford even opponents of the party or adversaries of aspirants to cause disaffection.
Touching on those in Cabinet, Mr Blay said they were under the whip of the Presidency and if they continued, the President might be obliged to deal with them.
According to Mr Blay, people lacing their boots to contest and occupy various positions in a political party was not new to only the NPP because even within the NDC “people have started jostling to vie for various positions, including competing John Dramani Mahama.”
He said it was also not surprising that people aspired one position or the other even to be President and that even President Akufo-Addo had been saying that there was nothing wrong with being ambitious. He noted that he, Mr Blay, was ambitious and that ministers of God out of their ambition aspired to be bishops.
“The only bad thing about such ambition is if they were executed without resorting to the rules, ethics and guidelines governing the organisation,” he advised and appealed to all the members, starting from those who wanted to be constituency executives, regional officers, national executive members and flag bearers, to abide by the rules.
Some leading members of the NPP have also expressed worry about the haste with which people are jostling to succeed President Akufo-Addo.