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Kwabena Agyepong enters NPP flag bearer race

BY: Albert K. Salia and Kweku Zurek

With almost one year for the yet-to-be announced presidential primary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the race for the ticket keeps getting keener.

The latest to enter into the list of presidential aspirants is Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, a former Press Secretary to former President John Agyekum Kufuor from 2001 to 2006, former General Secretary of the NPP and one of 17 aspirants who contested for the party’s nomination to replace former Presidential Kufuor as presidential candidate for the 2008 general election.

At the moment, the front-runners for the slot are Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the Minister of Trade and Industry (MOTI), Mr Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen.

Also in the running are the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and a former Minister of Energy, Mr Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko.

Undertones

The party is currently organising its polling stations and electoral area coordinators elections to be followed by the constituency, regional and national executive elections.

But if what is happening already at the lower levels of the party as far as elections are anything to go by, then Ghanaians should expect a much keener and tense contest for the presidential ticket of the party.

Dr Bawumia has also come out to state that he is much more interested in helping President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo achieve his mandate in his second term of administration.

At the party’s national delegates conference in Kumasi in December last year, the party was compelled to issue a directive for all billboards portraying aspirants for various positions to be pulled down as the time was not ripe.

The rapturous applause and rush to the dais by some NPP supporters to welcome Dr Bawumiah to address the conference, also created a furore as some felt the party breached its own guidelines by allowing the supporters to break the security barrier to sing and declare their support for Dr Bawumiah.

In an article to the Daily Graphic published in its January 14, 2022 edition, Mr Agyarko stated that “I don’t have a naked ambition to be president. Well, maybe, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if that is the only way you could see the true picture of the passion and the determination I have to serve Ghana. I am privileged to belong to the NPP. I am proud to live for it.”

For his part, Dr Akoto, in an interview on a radio station in Accra, indicated that he was indeed interested in becoming President and that he would most likely officially announce his intent in 2024.

Agyepong

The entry of Mr Agyepong is not surprising as he was one of the 17 aspirants who contested for the flagbearership of the NPP in 2007 for the 2008 presidential elections.

"In 2007, I was the youngest of the 17 aspirants, so it is not as if I haven't done it before," Mr Agyepong said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

"So, I will not rule out running for the Presidential primary but the most important thing to me now is how well we do as a government and how we are able to deliver on the mandate that the Ghanaian people have given us.”

"We should not take that mandate for granted. We should respect that mandate and work to the benefit of the generality of Ghanaians. Let's put Ghana first".

Local leaders

Touching on the ongoing NPP polling station executive and electoral area coordinators election, which has been characterised by incidents of acrimony, Mr Agyepong urged the national executive of the party not to influence the selection of polling station executive of the party.

He said the party had a strong structure that depended on a five-man polling station unit, comprising the chairman, secretary, organiser, youth organiser and women's organiser who must be free from manipulation.

"Those who are seeking to manipulate the process to ensure that certain people are removed or maintained have no business being there. Let the polling station organisations choose their own leaders," Mr Agyepong said.

"If someone has suffered, policing elections at the local level and all of a sudden you tell him to go and buy a form and after that, you are going to bring a committee to come and vet them, what are you talking about? When they were meeting in Pusiga were you there? They know themselves, so there should not be any attempt at a top-down manipulation of the electoral register or the delegates. That is what we are trying to say," he stressed.

Bussing

Mr Agyepong warned against the busing of delegates to vote at local elections in communities where the said delegates did not reside.

He said the issue was a major source of anger at the grassroots of the party.

He, therefore, called on the leadership of the party to be even-handed during the electoral process and be guided by the spirit of service, sacrifice and selflessness.

Partisanship

Mr Agyepong called for a reduction of partisanship on national issues in-between elections, stressing that all Ghanaians would be happy to be citizens of a great country irrespective of who was President.

"For me, the critical thing is not the one who replaces our President (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) now as the candidate of the NPP but how well we do satisfy the wishes of the Ghanaian people who had trust in us by renewing our mandate for a second term, that for me is the most important thing," Mr Agyepong said.

Materialism

Mr Agyepong also cautioned against instances of materialism in Ghanaian politics, stating that it was at odds with Ghanaian culture and family values.

"As Ghanaians, we are very communal people with large family units, extended family units and it is when everybody is happy that the community is happy, not just the individual," Mr Agyepong explained.

He said that principle had guided his political activism and he was hopeful that that would be imbibed in the youth of the country.