Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
THE anticipated straight fight between Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom and Prof Agyeman Badu Akosa in the race for the flagbearership lived up to its billing at the third national congress of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in Kumasi yesterday.
But the verdict of the delegates was not close.
After three days of exciting party activities and anxiety and 18 hours of voting, the delegates who thronged the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) delivered an overwhelming verdict for Dr Nduom to lead them into the 2008 national elections.
Flaunting all his charisma and oratory, Prof Akosa had electrified the atmosphere in the hall, after Dr Nduom had done same, ahead of the elections when each candidate was given five minutes to deliver a message to the delegates. And all and everything pointed to a neck and neck finish to push the election into a run-off.
But that was not to be, as Dr Nduom defied the odds to poll 1,022 votes, representing 53.8 per cent of the 1,901 votes cast by delegates, to win the slot.
Many had expected that Dr Nduom's association with the ruling government and a last-minute attempt by one of the aspirants, Mr Bright Oblitey Akwetey, to introduce an alleged Serious Fraud Office (SFO) finding against him would cost him some votes. But Dr Nduom proved them wrong.
His closest challenger, Prof Akosa, came a distant second with 644 votes, representing 33.91 per cent of the total votes cast.
Mr George Oposika Aguddey, who was the CPP presidential candidate for the 2004 election, was third with 139 votes, representing 7.3 per cent, while Dr Kwaku Osafo, 48 votes (2.5 per cent), Mr Akwetey, 37 votes (1.9 per cent), and Dr Frederick William Kwasi Akuffo, 11 votes (0.6 per cent), followed in that order.
Prof Akosa, in the spirit of competitiveness, embraced Dr Nduom after the results had been announced and was heard telling the victor, "Congratulations on your victory."
Dr Akuffo was also seen mingling with some of the delegates but Mr Aguddey and Dr Osafo were nowhere to be seen.
Mr Aguddey had, during the presidential balloting, petitioned the chairman for the congress, Mr Riley Poku, over an alleged irregularity in the selection of delegates from the Northern Region but the authorities found no merit in the petition.
Nobody had expected Dr Nduom to win with such a massive difference. In fact, many had expected a round off between him and Prof Akosa, judging by the rapturous support both had received from delegates when they made an appearance at the hall on Sunday.
The atmosphere at the Great Hall was electrifying when the Deputy Commissioner of the Electoral Commission, Mr K. Sarfo-Kantanka, announced the results.
Dr Nduom, who wore an all-white attire, with his head besmeared with powder to signify victory, sat at the high table on the dais with other party gurus.
Scores of journalists swarmed around him to interview him as security personnel worked hard to control the situation.
The victorious Dr Nduom kept saying, "I thank all of you, I thank all of you."
Indeed, Dr Nduom had gone through what could be said to be a difficult time before the voting started.
While introducing himself to the delegates before the balloting started on Sunday afternoon, he said, "I am aware of the moves by my opponents to smear me with false allegations. They have been going round distributing leaflets that the SFO had made some findings against me. But I am not deterred because I know they are all lies and at the end of the day God will decide."
He said he had nothing to fear because his hands were clean. He had, in the pre-election campaign, also attempted to explain himself to potential delegates and party people that his association with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had been at the instance of the CPP National Executive Committee and so it would be wrong for anyone to use it to bring him down.
There was continuous drumming and dancing on the campus after the results had been announced.
“With the congress now over and my victory as the flag bearer of the great CPP, I want to assure the nation that the CPP is back to life and the Mmoborowa campaign associated with our aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) is now over. I will be with them to campaign in the villages, towns and hamlets to market the great party to the electorate and let them understand that a vote for the CPP will never be a waste.”
These were Dr Nduom’s words minutes after he had been declared winner of the CPP delegates congress, reports George Ernest Asare.
After commending the delegates, senior party members of the CPP and his supporters whose effort made it possible for him to win the highest office of the party, he pointed out, “I will be in Elmina the following day (Tuesday) to inform my people of my victory to begin my campaign to every corner of the country to market the CPP.”
“I am ready to use the radio stations, televisions and all the media available to market the CPP to enable the electorate to appreciate the need to vote it into power, come December 2008,” Dr Nduom assured the delegates.
“I have stayed with the CPP from infancy and will forever stay with the party because it is my root,” he declared, adding, “My father was the Central Regional Organiser of the Young Pioneer so I am not new to the party, as is being perceived by some group of people.”
Turning to the delegates, he said, “This is the opportunity to support my cause and bring back the CPP to take control of government and initiate programmes and policies that will make Ghanaians feel proud of themselves.”
“This country belongs to Ghanaians and when I finally occupy the Flagstaff House, I will work hard to ensure that Ghanaians get advantage in business, farming, education, health, among others, to make them feel good with themselves,” he said.
“I am also going to work with all the losing candidates to ensure massive victory for us in the 2008 general election,” he noted.
On the candidates he would be contesting against for the Presidency in the 2008 presidential elections, Dr Nduom said it would be a contest among the CPP, the NDC and the NPP, but “Professor Mills and anyone who will be elected by the NPP have been in government before so they will have to tell Ghanaians what they did for the state to merit their election to the highest office in the country”.
Earlier, Dr Edmund Nminyem Delle, who lost to Mr Ladi Nylander as the Chairman of the CPP, had also given assurance of his support for the new chairman and all those who were elected to enable the CPP to form the next government.
In his address, he described the congress as a great day and a new dawn for the CPP and appealed to Ghanaians to give the party a chance by voting it into power in the December 2008 general election.
He also advised the new officers to work hard to bring unity into the party to enhance its victory in the next elections.
“With your election, you should see to it that the party is more united than ever to fulfil its mission,” he noted, adding, “Never again should we have a divided party.”
For his part, Mr Nylander said with his election as the Chairman of the CPP, the shackles that undermined the forward march of the party were broken, declaring, “Things will never be the same again.”