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General News of Saturday, 9 September 2006

Source: The Statesman

Oquaye’s denial shocks NPP boys

Professor Mike Oquaye's denial of any ambition to contest the New Patriotic Party flagbearer slot has shocked hundreds of activists on the ground, especially in light of the fact that he has endeared himself to the heart of every conscientious activist and party executive in the NPP by his singular gesture of generous support to constituencies in the nation in the form of resources to motivate them to keep the party alive.

One place where the denial has created quite a number of waves is the Eastern Region which, incidentally, is one of the friendliest terrains of the NPP top gun and Minister for Communications. A number of people, claiming to be his supporters in constituencies in that region have expressed shock and dismay about the Minister"s denial in the press.

Speaking to The Statesman in separate interviews, the activists saw the Minister’s action as "an act of betrayal”, as well as a form of “political inconsistency”, and “quite unexpected of a politician and party man who has been in the trenches in the war against the bloody PNDC/NDC regimes”.

According to one of them by name Kwadwo Odame Ansong, Prof Oquaye was a regular visitor to constituencies in the region, meeting and talking to activists and party executives into “remembering him” when the day to elect a flagbearer for the NPP arrived.

“He’s a regular visitor to constituencies in this region…he’s been meeting party executives and activists and soliciting their support to vote for him during the forthcoming congress to lead the NPP in the fight against the National Democratic Congress in 2008…We were supportive of his campaign style and grasp of grassroots problems, which culminated in his singular support for constituencies nation wide…We are shocked because, if it a case of leaders understanding grassroots politics, he stands out as number one…Why he would go out of his way to literally swear that he never had any ambition to fight for the leadership position is strange…We are shocked…,” Kwadwo lamented.

Kwadwo affirmed that Oquaye has, indeed, generously donated corn-milling machines to all the 230 constituencies in Ghana, and was in the process of topping it up with a sand-crete block-making machine to help party executives generate revenue to support party activities in the constituencies. Mr Oquaye had also donated millions of cedis to financially support women and youth leaders in the various constituencies.

These acts of benevolence, which Kwadwo believed could have come only from the heart of a well-meaning, affable and benevolent leader is evidence of his potential to lead Ghana out of the doldrums of poverty, if he was given the chance and privilege to lead the NPP for the 2008 campaign.

“Is the Minister telling us that he parted with those huge resources for nothing, or has he lost interest overnight in the race…He should tell us which is which?” He quipped.

He was convinced that the NPP needed men and women with the courage to stand by their convictions to lead the party into 2008 and beyond, men who would be entirely responsible for their actions, and who would take painful decisions without bending the knee or looking over their shoulders. “Those are the type of men we need, not those who run for cover when the heat is on.”

Another supporter, Yaw Berko, challenged the Minister to clear the air by repeating himself, and check if anyone in the party or nation would take him serious. He was of the opinion that there was no point following a leader, who would abandon followers mid-stream, and in the midst of challenges or difficulties. He therefore reminded all aspiring flagbearers or leaders of the NPP at every level to be firm in everything they do every step of the way, and to also be responsible for their actions.

“We want people who would be responsible for their actions and people who would not run away from their actions and statements when opposing voices snarl… We want bold, dedicated and committed leaders to succeed President JA Kufuor when he officially leaves the scene in 2008”.

A couple of weeks ago, the Minister for Communications, in a stand-off with The Statesman, denied having any interest in running for the flagbearer position of the NPP, in spite of evidence by the paper to the contrary and the warm support and solidarity he enjoys from a good chunk of activists and executives of all the constituencies nation-wide.

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