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General News of Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Source: Al-Hajj

Battle over control of ruling party

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Ohene Agyekum Chairs NDC?

Unfolding but interesting revelations about the battle over who gets hold of the soul of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has taken a new twist following the unfortunate and tragic demise of President John Mahama’s former Senior Policy Advisor, Ing. Paul Victor Obeng.

Some ‘invisible hands’ in the NDC mostly from the PNDC era had schemed to foist the late P.V. Obeng on the party as a national chairman ostensibly to continue their stranglehold on the ruling party.

They also argued that the time is rife for the party to elect a chairman from the Ashanti region so as to maximize the visibility and the electoral fortunes of the party in that region which is the stronghold of the opposition NPP.

However, following the sudden demise of Mr. P.V. Obeng those so-called ‘old guards’ from the NDC are hell bent on pushing a replacement from the Ashanti region. Thus, they are said to have settled on former ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum.

Impeccable information gathered by The aL-hAJJ has it that the decision to present Ohene Agyekum, a former Ashanti regional chairman of the NDC, for the post of national chairman was arrived at following the consensus among the so-called power brokers that they can trust him to protect their interest in the ruling party and also mobilize support for the party in the opposition stronghold.

However, it is not yet known if the presidency, which is also thought to be marking out candidates to field in the party’s upcoming internal contest, has given its blessings for the new arrangement, given the fact that some of those PNDC-era party power brokers are not enthused with the leadership style of President Mahama.

They have consistently accused the President of cutting them off from his government and rather surrounded himself with outsiders.

Should President feels threaten by this moves from these party elders, he will likely kick against it and possibly back a rival candidate to contest the national chairmanship position in order to protect his interest as he plans to contest the party’s presidential primaries and eventually the 2016 elections.

The Chairmanship of Ohene Agyekum, who once severed as Regional Minister for Eastern, Ashanti and Greater Accra regions; Ambassador to Canada and United States of America and also one time Chieftaincy Minister, is said to have been endorsed by all the unelected power brokers of the NDC. They have promised to use their national influence in the party and if possible ‘big purse’ to enthrone Mr. Ohene Agyekum as the national chairman of the party.

However, when contacted by press time yesterday, Mr Ohene Agyekum denied he is interested in becoming party chairman. According the former diplomat “my present concern which I believe should be the concern of all of us is to ensure that the cocoa industry of which I am the present chairman is sustained beyond our generation… “I am happy with the job entrusted to me by the president at COCOBOD and I want to do everything in my power to support the president realize his vision for the cocoa industry”. Mr. Agyekum noted that combining full time job of cocobod chairman and national party chair effectively is near impossible, and that the two posts require efficient leadership

But, party insiders disclosed to this paper that some national executives whose laps the day-to-day running of the NDC rest are strongly but secretly part of this plot to replace their comrade, Dr. Kwabena Adjei.

Dr. Agyei, a native of Volta Region, also the stronghold of the ruling party has argued that his goodwill and integrity and not ‘big purse’ would win him his position back.

The Godfathers would have none of that and are busily pressing the button for the realization of their strategy.

Another strong contender for the position of the national chairman of the party is the NADMO boss, Mr. Kofi Portuphy. He is said to be a grassroots person and his personal contribution to the party has endeared him to the ordinary members who have pledged to reward him with the chairmanship position. He is said to be solidly on the ground and is likely to pose a serious threat to whoever the so-called Godfathers of the party will present for the position.

Through his outfit, NADMO, he has worked very hard over the years to endear himself to the various groups in the party both at the lower and higher levels and his supporters believe that this is the time for him to reap the benefit.

Plans to install the late P.V Obeng Chairman was first revealed last Monday on Radio Gold, two days after his demise by another stalwart of the NDC known for his backstage smooth operations.

Though not explicit with his pronouncement, former National Security capo, Mr Totobi Kwakye, in an emotional and grief-stricken tribute last week told host of Radio Gold’s morning show, Alhassan Suhuyini, that before the demise of PV Obeng, there were ‘talks’ among party stalwarts he takes charge of the ruling party. But now that he has joined his ancestors, deep throat party sources say the late Prof Mills’ hockey play-mate and now Cocobod chair, Ohene Agyekum, has been handed the mantle to lead the party into the 2016 elections.

Mr Agyekum, described as a political strategist and campaigner, especially in his home region Ashanti, is no stranger to Ghana politics. Aside his rich experience in Foreign Service, the 72 year old Juaso born astute politician, served as acting Ashanti regional secretary for NDC in 1992 until his appointment as Minister in the first NDC government under Rawlings. In 2001 when the NDC went into opposition, he contested the post of Ashanti regional chairman and won, a position that gave him the needed finesse to launch a vigorous campaign in his home region until the party was re-elected in 2008. Mr Agyekum’s entry brings the number of candidates anticipated to vie for the NDC chairmanship to six. He is expected to battle incumbent Chairman Dr Kwabena Adjei, NADMO Boss, Kofi Portuphy; a vice chairman, Alhaji Hudu Yahaya; former Ambassador to Malaysia, Dan Abodakpi and former Education Minister, Betty Mould Iddrisu.

Some political pundits The al-hAJJ spoke to on the subject noted that with the entry of Ohene Agyekum into the national chairmanship race and looking at the array of his political backers, it is likely some of the candidates who have made known their intention to run may rescind their decision and instead chase the vice chairman post. They say the former US Ambassador’s pedigree in politics and those putting him up for the post makes him a candidate to beat, adding that it will take a much tougher and well-resourced person to beat him. Stay tuned

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