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Politics of Thursday, 5 April 2007

Source: Statesman

'Don't vote for a novice' - Akufo-Addo tells NPP

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and leading candidate in the race for flagbearership of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo over the weekend set the Ashanti Region afire, when he toured the Region with the highest number of constituencies to interact with executives of the party. Nana Akufo-Addo repeated his message to the executives of the party not to experiment with the task of transformational leadership when choosing the next flagbearer of the NPP.
Leadership, he said, is not like a commodity under the auctioneer's hammer that should go to the highest bidder.
He also reminded them about the need to maintain party cohesion and that they should be mindful not to vote for novices who neither know the history of the country and of the party nor the trials that both nation and party have gone through to come this far.
"We have been to hell and back to get this party this far. People have lost their lives and limbs. People have lost their businesses and marriages. People have suffered exile to bring this party this far,” he said.
“The President has had to go to jail thrice for the sake of this party. We cannot sacrifice all this on the altar of experimentation nor should we mortgage this party to the highest bidder,” Nana said in impeccable twi. Nana Akufo-Addo was accompanied by party loyalists from the Volta, Upper-West, Upper-East, Northern, Eastern and Greater Accra Regions. Even though none of these people spoke at the interactions with the executives, there were shouts of "All inclusive"! "All inclusive" any time they were introduced. Crowds of party supporters and curious onlookers lined the streets of New Edubiase to wave at the popular Foreign Minister and presidential hopeful on Palm Sunday. An executive of the party of the New Edubiase constituency was beside himself with excitement. "Nana, we want to assure you that just as Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday so shall your entry today into New Edubiase signify your triumph at the primaries," he said. At Bekwai, even though Nana Akufo-Addo did not stop to address the executives, citizens of the town mounted road blocks to prevent the Foreign Minister and his entourage from passing through until he had addressed them. The Minister and his entourage however assured them of his return to Bekwai in the next round of his visit. The Minister, who had been forced by ministerial duties to earlier postpone his Ashanti tour scheduled for last January, managed to tour 26 of the 39 constituencies in the past week. But, he had to cut it short Monday to return to Accra to travel to Senegal with President Kufuor for President Wade"s inauguration. Kwame Kyem Mainoo, a former constituency executive of the party and teacher at T I Ahmadiyya Secondary School, could not hide his excitement at Nana Akufo-Addo’s visit. "The long awaited man has arrived. But why did he have to wait this long to come to Ashanti? He wondered. "His long absence had given room to too many pretenders to the throne to come and waste our time and ears." Nana Akufo-Addo was forthright with his reason. "Ashanti and the Eastern Region not only constitute the heart of the party, but I consider these regions as my base and home," he told the Ashanti executives of the party.
"I decided to go elsewhere first, and when I’m done to come home to crown it all. So this is home. This is Ashanti, my home."
Mustapha Hamid, one of the main organisers of Nana Akufo-Addo’s campaign and interim spokesman explained why: "We have had to leave out the rest of the 13 constituencies to enable the minister travel with the President to Senegal for the inauguration of President Wade," he said. "We shall be back next week to complete the rest of the 13 constituencies to bring our tour of Ashanti region to an end."
At Mamponteng in the Kwabre East constituency, crowds of enthusiastic supporters had besieged the premises of the District Assembly Hall to catch a glimpse of the Minister. They cursed and swore, threatening the executives of the party with fire and brimstone should they fail to vote for Nana Akufo-Addo. Even though the presidential hopeful was billed to address only the executives of the party, the crowd insisted on being a part of the meeting which the Minister obliged.
Mustapha Hamid could not hide his excitement at the show of support for his candidate: "I’m very excited. With Ashanti under wraps, I’m very sure we are coasting for a landslide in the primary election," he said.
26 constituencies gone and Nana Akufo-Addo and his team returned to Accra very hopeful. "We were never in doubt about his support base in Ashanti. This is a party, the loyalists of which do not forget easily.
True loyalists remember those they started with and those who continue to show selfless commitment to the cause of not only the party but to the very reason that this party is in existence - service of the nation," was how Victor Newman, the master stategist of Nana Akufo-Addo’s campaign, put it.