About 15 hours of voting did not deter them — they waited, kept wake, determined to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates.
The first time the National Democratic Congress (NDC) expanded its electoral college came with challenges but which were not insurmountable.
When they surmounted, the voting process went beyond Saturday and into Sunday, but the delegates showed determination and readiness to put the party structures in place for the 2020 general election.
Some 9,350 delegates and 7,850 observers, bringing the total to 17,000, thronged the venue for the congress at La in Accra to decide the fate of some 65 individuals vying for 10 national executive positions.
And when all had been said and done, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo was elected the National Chairman of the NDC with 3,656.
He beat a former Trade and Industry Minister and former NDC MP for Keta, Mr Dan Abodakpi, who obtained 2,199 votes; a former Attorney General and current Vice-Chairperson of the party, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu (363); a businessman, Mr Daniel Anang (307), and Alhaji Huudu Yahaya (1,827) to clinch the topmost position of the party.
Mr Ofosu-Ampofo previously served as National Organiser, Vice-Chairman and Director of Elections for the NDC.
During the administration of the late President J.E.A. Mills, Mr Ofosu-Ampofo served as the Eastern Regional Minister and later as the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
Popularly referred to as Braa Sammy Fotoo, he supervised Election 2016 for the NDC as its director of elections.
With regard to the position of National Vice-Chairman, Chief Sofo Azorka, Sherry Ayittey and Alhaji Said Sinare won the three slots.
In the contest for the position of General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, the incumbent, maintained his position as the chief scribe of the party. He garnered 6,644 votes to beat Samuel Koku Sitsofe Anyidoho, who obtained 1,655 votes.
Deputy General Secretary
Barbara Serwaa Asamoah and Peter Boamah Otokonor won the two Deputy General Secretary slots. Other contestants were David Kwaku Worwui-Brown, Kojo Adu Asare, a former MP for Adenta and former Presidential Staffer; George Lawson, Abdullah Ishaq Farrakhan, Nii Dodoo Dodoo, Kale Cezar, Ephram Nii Tan Sackey and Evans Amoo.
Mr Joshua Hamidu Akamba won the position of National Organiser after beating Mahdi Gibrill, firebrand Jemima Anita De-Sosoo, Yaw Boateng Gyan, a former MP for Akwatia, Baba Jamal Ahmed; Enoch Amoako-Nsiah and Solomon Yaw Nkansah.
Deputy National Organiser
Chief Hamilton Biney and Kobby Barlon won the Deputy National Organiser positions.
The position of Communications Officer of the party went to Sammy Gyamfi, after he had beaten Fred Agbenyo, who was the Deputy Communications Officer, by a wide margin of 6250, while Agbenyo had 2069 votes. Kwaku Boahen and Godwin Ako Gunn were elected Deputy Communications officers of the party.
National Zongo Caucus Coordinator
Alhaji Mamah Mohammed Cole Younger was elected the National Zongo Caucus Coordinator with 3,840 votes.
Three key amendments
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Former President J. J. Rawlings
The congress began with an opening ceremony which was addressed by the party’s stalwarts, including its Founder, former President J. J. Rawlings, and former President John Dramani Mahama.
In his address, former President Rawlings advised the party to listen to itself as it prepared for the 2020 elections.
For his part, former President Mahama accused President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government of becoming a clearing house of its corrupt officials.
After the initial opening ceremony, the party plunged into business to amend aspects of its constitution that had to do with the date for the election of a flag bearer, the adoption of a special national conference (SNC) and the creation of a presidential advisory committee (PAC).
Regarding the change of the date for the election of a flag bearer, the rationale was that the original date for the congress, which should have been November 3, 2018, was changed to November 17, 2018, while the date for the election of a flag bearer was supposed to be December 7, 2018.
Therefore, considering the short period between the congress and the election of a flag bearer, it seemed improbable that the December 7 date would be appropriate, hence the need for an amendment.
What that means effectively is that the National Executive Committee (NEC) will now meet to decide on a new date for the holding of the flag-bearer elections.
Special National Conference
Some of the delegates
For the adoption of the Special National Conference (SNC), the position of the party was that it had observed that it was becoming increasingly difficult to always organise congresses to deliberate on certain matters of importance without recourse to voting.
The explanation was that as things stood currently, every time that the party had to call a congress, there was always an element of voting and for that matter it was unable to call congresses to deliberate on issues of policy and programmes and also consider crucial constitutional amendments.
Therefore, the amendment was to separate congress from the SNC, so that the SNC would be different from the national delegates congress and yet have the powers and authority of the national delegates congress.
Under the new provision, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party would be the body to call a SNC by notice at a place and on a date it determines and will also determine the delegates and all persons who are qualified to attend.
In selecting delegates for the SNC, the NEC will take cognizance of the various stakeholder interests in the party in order to reflect a national spread.
Among the mandate of the SNC will be the discussion and adoption of amendments to the party’s constitution, discussion of policy issues affecting the development and direction of the party, particularly its policies and programmes, and approve the annual reports and policy recommendations proposed by the NEC and others.
Presidential Advisory Committee
The third amendment was for the creation and adoption of a Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) to moderate the relationship between the party and the presidency.
According to the provision, at the beginning of the President’s tenure, the PAC would be established to be composed of not more than 13 members, with at least three of its members being women.
The committee, according to the provision, would be made up of the President-elect, the Vice-President-elect, the Chairman of the Council of State (who must be a member of the NDC), the leader of the party in Parliament and the Chief Whip of the party in Parliament.
Others are the Chairman of the Council of Elders, the Vice-Chairman of the Council of Elders, the Chairman of the party, the General Secretary, one representative of regional chairmen, one presidential appointee, the National Organiser, the National Youth Organiser, the National Women’s Organiser and one woman nominated by the party.
The amendment indicated that the committee would be constituted as soon as the party was voted to assume government and it would serve as a liaison between the Executive and the party.
“The committee shall establish a functional relationship between NEC and the Functional Executive Committee (FEC) of the party and the Presidency or the government in order to improve upon both communication and the building of a harmonious relationship between the two.
“It shall also provide the platform for the discussion of general matters regarding the forging of a strong relationship between the party and the Presidency and the committee would offer advice to the government in relation to the appointment of key state officials.
“As part of that relationship, the organisation of meetings between the party and the Presidency would be expected to take place at least once every three months.
“The President-elect would be the Chairman of the committee, while the General Secretary of the party would be the secretary of the committee and convener of meetings,” it said.
Plight of delegates
Majority of delegates who attended the congress, especially those from far, attributed the delay in the process of the elections to poor organisation.
Clearly peeved and fatigued delegates said officials should have quickly expanded the voting centres from the existing five to at least eight when the crowding began to mount.
They also suggested that delegates from distant locations such as the three regions of the north should have been made to vote before those who were closer.
Some other challenges were that some regions were not organised as and when they were called and that also delayed the process.
The ramification for the delay for those from afar was that drivers who conveyed them to Accra were demanding extra charges for the additional hours spent in Accra.
Some of them said they were hired for a day but had ended up spending two days and so the additional day should attract additional charges. Yet they could not find any executive to help with the payment of the additional charges.
Some delegates who wished to stay till counting and declaration of results said they were worried that they had to return to their origins due to the delay.
Those who chose to stay had to deal with the challenge of having to pay an extra day at the hotels where they lodged.
For those who could not afford to pay for the extra cost of lodging they had to check out of the hotels and carry their luggage with them to the Accra International Conference Centre.
Also, security at the congress venue was lax as of yesterday, in pale comparison to last Saturday’s when there was a very tight security that would not permit entrance to anyone without accreditation.