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General News of Sunday, 24 February 2008

Source: gye nyame concord

Akufo-Addo's dilemma

*As he ponders over Boniface, Alima, Idris and Jawula

IN THE AFTERMATH of the ruling New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) gruelling flagbearership contest, the debate over who will partner the party’s flagbearer, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, to contest the next general elections appears to have dissolved into semantics without dilating on the qualities of such a person, according to Mr Eric Agyemang, an NPP political stalwart in the Suame Constituency of the Ashanti Region.

He says now that the party has completed one assignment, “we should undertake another crucial assignment that is the selection of a running mate for Nana Akufo-Addo”.

In an exclusive interview with this reporter, he said over the years the party has had a tradition of selecting a Dagomba as a running mate for its presidential candidates.

However, he suggested that it is about time the NPP thought about a change of strategy since “the Dagomba man has ceased to have some appeal for us. These Dagombas have abandoned our party because of a certain perception about the unfortunate killing of the late Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II”.

He intimated that if the party was to select an Andani it stood the risk of incurring the displeasure of the Abudus and vice versa and that it would be prudent for the party to make a radical shift and select a Gonja, stressing that “they constitute the next largest voting block to the Dagombas in the north”.

Again, in his opinion, the party should avoid the selection of a Mamprusi “because if we select a Mamprusi we alienate the Kusasis in Bawku”.

Therefore, according to him, the surest bet for the party is a Gonja. We have Lepowura, Alhaji MND Jawula and Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, as the two most seasoned politicians in the party who fit the bill.

For him, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique has a big edge over the Lepowura because of his lineage and support attraction.

He noted that Boniface has an appeal to the Ewes because his father is from Nkonya in the Volta Region and because he was raised up at Yeji in the Brong Ahafo Region, he has an appeal that transcends the PRU constituency to the northern part of Brong Ahafo.

He said the choice of Boniface would also level up National Democratic Congress’ Hon John Mahama – MP for Bole Bamboi, whose mother is from Krachi in the Northern Volta and Bole in Gonja land, in case he is appointed to partner Prof Mills.

“If we appoint Boniface early we would take the wind out of the sail of NDC”, he noted, adding “if the NDC appoints Alhaji Mumuni, a Dagomba, his appeal would depend on the faction he comes from and Boniface would take the other faction”.

Judging by the calibre and quality of NDC’s Prof Mills and Nana Akufo-Addo, the 2008 contest is going to get down to two words: “Running Mate” and that the persons the two major political parties pick as running mates must have the popularity either to win floating votes and, or break into the other’s base, he related.

“This is why in my view, Hon. Boniface Abubakar Saddique fits the bill and I have every confidence in proposing him for consideration for his popularity”

His popularity in the Muslim Community is not limited to any part of the country unlike other Muslim politicians whose popularity is limited to their specific constituencies such as Ayawaso or Madina, but cuts across from Esiama in the Western Region to Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region as well all the Zongo communities in the Kumasi Metropolis.

Mr Agyemang believes this attribute helped Hon Boniface when he was appointed the Northern Regional Minister in 2005, by far the most complicated region to administer because of its sheer size and looming Dagbon crisis, to tackle the Dagbon crisis and succeeded in bringing the disputing parties together, first for the installation of a regent and then the burial of the late Ya-Na.

“This singular achievement has won him the admiration of many in the Northern Region, as he earned the trust of both sides of the aisle in the Dagbon issue”, he maintained.

He said whether the NPP likes it or not, the Dagbon and to some extent the Bawku issues would play a significant electoral baggage to the party, therefore, it is important to pick a running mate who is unaligned to any of the factions in this troubled spots.

He said of all the names making the rounds as possible running mates, it is only Alhaji Boniface Saddiqque who has had a clean run in all the portfolios he has served in under President Kufuor.

“His records as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry (as it was then), Deputy Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City (as it was then), Minister of Manpower Development Youth and Employment and now Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing is par excellent”, he pointed out, arguing that only few people would have the kind of round experience that the Boniface has had over the last seven years, with the last three years being spent as a member of cabinet.

About those who are suggesting that the NPP selects a woman as a running mate, he intimated that the fact that the 2008 battle is against a ferocious and unrepentant opposition, who have declared that being in opposition is hell; and are therefore going to come out firing on all cylinders, this is not the time to experiment; but to put the best foot forward, not just in terms of a running mate who can campaign for himself, but has the capacity to follow the opposition to their backyard, i.e. the zongo communities.

He said in Boniface one gets intellect, experience, expertise, charisma and on top of all you get popularity in the Zongo communities, and that this is not the time for blind sentimentalism about wanting a woman for running mate.

Finally, he warned the party against choosing anybody from any of the troubled spots in the Northern Region since the consequences may not bring the desired results the party needs to retain power in the coming elections

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