On 22nd December, 2007, 1,096 out of 2,285 delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) elected Nana Akufo-Addo with 47.965% as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2008 general election.
This was almost a decade after Akufo-Addo’s first shot at the flagbearer slot in 199. Fast forward, it took him 3 general elections to be President of the Republic of Ghana, a life-long dream he had nurtured; his own father having served as President in the Second Republic.
The New Patriotic Party was formed from the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), which effectively developed into the National Congress Party in 1952, the National Liberation Movement, then the United Party which had the Simon D. Dombo’s Northern People’s Party, Abrefa Busia’s Progress Party in the late 1960s, the Popular Front Party in 1979, together with the United National Convention and the All-Popular Front in the early 1980s.
This was what gave birth to the term Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, upon which is presumed to signify the 3 founding factions of the party and has been relevant in not only choosing a party flagbearer but also, power distribution and politics within the party and government, when in power.
The race to the flagbearer position in the NPP has not been an easy one or a walk in the park for anyone who had eventually won or even contested. It has taken resilience, financial wherewithal, ethnic background/region, endorsement from the grassroots and even family blood lines among others.
This article will walk the reader through the politics and brief history behind the “chosen one” of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The New Patriotic Party has run in every national general election in Ghana since the establishment of the Fourth Republic in 1992 and has organized 5 presidential primaries in total which has seen 2 out of 3 flagbearers move on to become President of the Republic.
In August 1992, the NPP held its first presidential primaries which saw 6 candidates vie for the position. With 56.6% of votes from a total of 1,998 delegates, Albert Adu Boahen, Asante history professor at the University of Ghana, became the first flagbearer of the NPP. He belonged to a band of drummers who served the Juaben (Asante) and New Juaben (Koforidua) stools and in 1990, became chairman of the MFJ (Movement for Freedom and Justice) in 1990.
At that time, the party needed a very vocal individual who fought the culture of silence imposed by the Rawlings regime and Adu Boahen ticked those boxes. The Asante elites, however, held reservations about Boahen’s connections and background and whether they were powerful enough to win against Rawlings.
Former President Kufuor in that primary placed 3rd with only 16.5% of votes cast. This could be attributed to many reasons, key among them was the anti-Asante sentiments which hurt him more than Boahen because he was thought to be chosen by the Asante stool and this kind of elitism was despised by the grassroots.
After Boahen lost the national general election, Kufuor decided to exploit the opportunity, using his family’s name (Apagyafie), money and influence as royalty and membership of the Danquah/Busia Memorial Club. He was strongly endorsed by the then Asantehene Opoku Ware II, who in 1962, presided over his engagement party with his wife Theresa before he became Asantehene.
During the 2nd NPP primaries, Kufuor contested once again and beat Adu Boahen with 51.99%. There were 4 others in that contest, key amongst them were economist J. H. Mensah (brother-in-law of Kufuor) and economist Jones Ofori-Atta. Kufuor lost the 1996 general election. He contested the party primaries again in 1998 and won by 64.6%.
In that election, there was a “new” entrant, Nana Akufo-Addo, who came second and pooled 31.64%. Kufuor later went on to win the 2000 and 2004 general elections, being the first time NPP held power.
Nana Akuffo-Addo was also not new to the political scene as he was actively involved in the formation of Alliance for Change (an alliance that organised demonstrations against neo-liberal policies), MP for Abuakwa Constituency in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th parliaments as well as part of the formation of the NPP.
In 2008, in his second attempt, Akuffo Addo was elected flagbearer of the NPP. He had 47.97% of the total votes cast which was short of the 50%+1 requirement and hence it took Alan Kyermanten to concede defeat after placing 2nd with 32.3%. That election had the most candidates in any NPP presidential primaries, numbering 17.
Just like Kufuor, Nana Addo’s 2nd shot at representing the NPP during the party primaries was clinched with a resounding victory of 78.89%. The August 7th, 2010 primaries, was the first party-expanded Delegate Conference which was held nationwide (228 out of 230 constituencies) with about 106,590 delegates casting their votes.
Alan Kyerematen was once again in 2nd place but with a lower margin of 19.91%. After 2 attempts at the presidency, Akuffo-Addo won the 2016 election and has just begun his 2nd term after the 2020 general election.
The National Executive Council of the NPP is proposing January 2024 as Conference date to choose a new flagbearer for the party in the 2024 election. Already, some individuals are showing interest in the race which has prompted the National Executive to issue warnings to aspirants since it is early days yet and according to them, “distracting government business”.
According to pollster Ben Ephson, 5 people are likely to contest the flagbearer position;
- Vice President, Dr. Bawumia, who would be from the Dombo faction of the party, giving the Northern Region a chance at the presidency on the ticket of the NPP;
- Alan Kyerematen (his father Alex Kyerematen; was a royal of Pataase in Kumasi, a paternal grandson of Asantehene Kofi Kakari, was Mayor of Kumasi and a Commissioner of Local Government between 1966 and 1969), current Trade Minister who has contested the primaries twice already
- Joe Ghartey, former Minister for Railways
- Dr. Kofi Apraku, Former MP for Offinso North Constituency and two time candidate for flagbearer (1998 and 2008) and
- Boakye Agyarko, former Minister for Energy and 1 time candidate for flagbearer in 2008.
Another likely candidate is Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, a royal and member of the Apagyafie, current Minister for Energy and MP for Manhyia South Constituency.
With key personalities like Ama Busia, founding member of the NPP endorsing VP Bawumia and Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu saying NPP must not pick another Akan as flagbearer, we are expected to witness very interesting politics in the run-up to the 2024 NPP presidential primaries.
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