GHANA’s largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), cleared one major hurdle towards the 2012 general election with the successful holding of its 15th national delegates conference that saw former Minister of Tourism, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, emerging the new National Chairman of the party.
Son of the late Mr Odarkwei Obetsebi-Lamptey, a founder member of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), from which the NPP takes its roots, Jake polled 2,030 votes to beat his closest challenger, Mr Stephen Ayesu Ntim, who garnered 1,804 votes, with a difference of 226 votes.
After nearly eight hours of voting and collation, the Electoral Commission, led by deputy chairman (Operations), Mr Kwadwo Sarfo-Kantanka, announced the results at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday, and the stadium burst into jubilation immediately Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey’s name was mentioned as the winner.
Mr Samuel K.A.B. Crabbe came a distant third with 43 votes, while Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, 29 votes, and Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, 25 votes, followed in that order.
With a total ballot of 2,964, Mr Fred Oware was elected First National Vice-Chairman while Mr T.D. Damba, 1,798 votes, became Second National Vice-Chairman, and Mrs Sophia Horner-Sam, having 1,743 votes, was elected the Third National Vice-Chairperson.
The position of General Secretary went to a Kumasi-based legal practitioner, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, aka Sir John, who, with 2,386 votes, swept past the incumbent, Nana Ohene-Ntow (918 votes), Captain Nkrabea Effah Dartey (retd) (431 votes), Mr Obeng Busia (139 votes) and Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa (77 votes).
A former minister of state, Alhaji Moctar Musa Bamba, polled 3,428 votes to beat former national youth organiser, Mr John Boadu, and former Central Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze, for the national organiser position.
One position which was fiercely contested, the national women’s organiser, went to Ms Otiko Afisah-Djaba, who had 280 votes to beat Ms Christine Churcher (260 votes), while Mrs Esther Dzifah Ofori was elected unopposed as the national treasurer.
Four persons contested for the youth organiser position with Mr Anthony Abayifa Karbo emerging the winner with 273 votes to beat Mr Stephen Amoah ( 192 votes) and Mr Pius Enam Hadzie (145 votes) and Mr Michael Kwabena Ampong (15 votes).
For the position of Nasara Chairman, Mr Abubakar Sulemana polled 130 votes to win the seat, beating Mr Mohammed Ibrahim (58 votes) and Alhaji Tanko Maharaji (47 votes).
The whole exercise went on peacefully with the police, led by the Deputy Regional Commander, ACP Kwasi Mensah Duku, taking full control of the security situation.
But there was a near calamity when a member of the youth wing of the party, Mr Hafiz Bin Salih, who was about to deliver a speech on behalf of the youth wing, collapsed on the dais in the scorching sun and was rushed to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital where he was treated and discharged.
About 7,000 people including 4,500 delegates were inside the Baba Yara Stadium where the conference took place, while at least 10,000 more people who were not accredited waited outside the stadium to hear the outcome of the conference.
The scene in and out of the stadium was electrifying right from about 6a.m. when delegates and other party supporters started pouring in.
Supporters of the various candidates carrying banners, posters and placards of their candidates took to drumming and dancing.
The atmosphere charged when word came round that former President John Agyekum Kufuor was on his way to the stadium and when he finally arrived the police had a hectic time controlling the milling crowd who wanted to catch a glimpse of him.
Few minutes after his arrival, Nana Akufo-Addo, accompanied by his running mate in the 2008 presidential election, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, also arrived and hell nearly broke loose with chants of “Nana-o, Nana”.
Not long afterwards, Mr Alan Kyerematen also arrived with a large following, bringing excitement into the stadium.
The immediate past national chairman, Mr Peter Mac Manu, swore the new executive into office for a four-year term.
Speaking on behalf of the executive, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey thanked the delegates for the confidence reposed in them and pledged that they would not disappoint the party.
He, however, called for co-operation from all party people to ensure that the dream of winning the 2012 polls become a reality.
He stated that “the country is depressed and the people are looking up to the NPP to rescue them from the NDC’s bad governance”.
He promised to ensure that all complaints in the party were expeditiously addressed to enhance party unity.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey also told the party supporters not to look at what the party could do for them but rather what they could do to build the party.
He paid special tribute to the former executive for the positive strides they made during their tenure and praised his closest challenger, Mr Ntim, for putting up such a healthy challenge.
There were fraternal messages from the CPP, PNC, GCPP and DFP, with the ruling party, the NDC, conspicuously absent.