Although the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is yet to open nominations for presidential aspirants, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Friday ignited discussions on presidential ambitions when he mentioned the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, and the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, as some of the ministers who are seeking to replace him as President.
In a lighter note and what seemed to have taken both Mr Kyerematen and Dr Akoto by surprise, President Akufo-Addo at a meeting with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, said “Nana, let me introduce my team. This is your grandson, Dr Afriyie Akoto, my Agric Minister who wants to become the president.”
“Nana, this is Alan Kyerematen, he has been vying for my seat for a very long time, a very workaholic minister,” he chuckled amidst a loud noise from the crowd gathered at Manhyia.
The President’s comments got everyone in the room laughing, including the Asantehene.
Mr Kyerematen and Dr Akoto are part of the President’s team touring the Ashanti Region.
Prior to the meeting, both Mr Kyerematen and Dr Akoto had come out publicly to deny interest in the seat, and expressed their interest in ensuring that President Nana Akufo-Addo succeeded in his second term.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who is also seen as a potential flag bearer aspirant of the NPP for the 2024 presidential election, has also indicated his interest was seeking to make sure President Akufo-Addo succeeded to ensure that the NPP broke the eight-year cycle.
So far, names such as Boakye Agyarko, a former Minister of Energy; Mr Joe Ghartey, former Minister of Railways Development, Dr Konadu Apraku, former Trade and Industry Minister, and Mr Kennedy Agyapong, are in the media space as aspiring to contest for the flagbearer position of the party for the 2024 election.
Code of conduct
What is holding back many aspirants is the issuance of a code of conduct for aspiring party executives and presidential aspirants not to campaign until official nominations are opened. The NPP has therefore barred party members from campaigning ahead of the presidential primaries in 2023.
The party has also warned of punitive measures if any interested aspirant was seen campaigning.
The president took the opportunity to express gratitude to the Asantehene and Asanteman for supporting the NPP and his candidature in the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“I am here to show my gratitude to you and Asanteman for your support in the last elections. You have supported the NPP since time immemorial, and in the last elections, but for your unshrinking support and that of Asanteman to me and the NPP, we would not have been in government,” the President said.
He continued, “I am here to show you and the entire kingdom my gratitude for that solid support that has seen us in power.”
President Akufo-Addo, in explaining the rationale for his visit to the region, indicated that he was in the region to familiarise himself with the numerous development projects going on, and listen for himself the concerns of residents, the traditional authority and opinion leaders.
The President used the opportunity to assure the people of the Ashanti Region that he would not take their support for granted, stressing that it was for this reason that several developmental projects have been done, with many still ongoing in the region.
“There are many ongoing projects. We can all attest to the fact that Kumasi and Asanteman have not witnessed such massive road infrastructural projects in our political history. Other projects like the 1D1F, the ongoing Kumasi Airport construction which is 77 per cent complete and by June next year, it will be completed after which its international status will be achieved’’ he said.
President Akufo-Addo also assured Otumfuo Osei Tutu II that even though there were delays with respect to the Boankra Inland Port project, plans were far advanced for the project to take off.
For his part, Otumfuo Osei Tutu praised the President for his commitment to the development of the region and the country.
He also praised the President for his tour of the country, adding that “if you stay in your office, your appointees will tell you what you want to hear. This tour will help you verify what you hear and know the truth.”
“I know you, and you do not disappoint. I trust you and I know you will honour Asanteman,” the Asantehene said.