At long last, the much talked-about 21st National Delegates Conference of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), slated for Koforidua, the Eastern Regional capital, is here.
Over six thousand delegates from across the country and from the diaspora, plus several thousands of party activists are currently on their way to the campuses of the Koforidua Technical University, venue of the conference.
Key on the agenda is the election of national executives to run the affairs of the party.
A close observation of some ‘gathering storms’ ahead of the conference indicates that the chairmanship race appears to be the hottest.
While Freddie Blay, acting national chairman of the party, is campaigning on the message that he led the party to power in 2016, his main contestant, Stephen Ayensu Ntim, is asking the delegates to reward his long-standing loyalty to the party.
On what each of them is bringing to the table in terms of party welfare, Blay is providing a bus for each constituency to be run as public transport. On his part, Ntim has assured delegates of a healthcare and life insurance plan for all constituency executives.
One unfortunate observation, however, is that despite Ntim`s hard work and contributions to the party, his opponents have found a way to link him up with former President John Kufuor and Alan Kyeremanten, as if the two personalities are ‘lepers’ within the party that must not be associated with.
The same people are openly influence-peddling on President Akufo-Addo’s name, insinuating that he (the President) is for Blay and is therefore not neutral after all.
Of course, some of Ntim’s people are also alleging that Freddie Blay is not a true-blue member of the NPP, and often refer to his allegiances to the Rawlingses, the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
But most serious is the way ministers and government appointees are demonizing one contestant against the other, while others are openly endorsing their preferred candidates at the least opportunity.
A recent incident was where the minister in charge of Railways Development, Hon. Joe Ghartey, and three other deputy ministers, graced an occasion to flaunt their support for Freddie Blay.
Equally ‘guilty’ of this were Kinsley Aboagye Gyadu, deputy Minister for Health, Kwamena Darko-Mensah, Deputy Minister for Aviation, and Paul Essien, Deputy Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, who reportedly partook in the ‘endorsement ceremony’.
Some delegates are also lamenting about how they are being pursued with headloads of cash to vote for a particular candidate.
All said and done, the ground is set for the clash of the titans. The paper wishes the party and government machinery will allow the delegates to vote according to their consciences. That is the essence of democracy, that is what the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition claims is its hallmark.
May the better candidate win.