Who wins the Legon race?

The list is quite tall, but at the end of the day only one candidate gets the nod to defend the flag of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2008 presidential election. That is the Herculean task confronting the over 2,300 delegates who vote at the party’s delegates’ congress this week¬end to elect the party’s flagbearer.

By the close of nomination, there were 19 candidates. That number reduced by one after the vetting exercise, with Mr Nkrabea Effah-Darteh falling by the roadside, courtesy the axe of the party’s vetting committee.

Those who have made it to the congress include Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the Vice¬President; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku and Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng.

The rest are Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, Prof. Mike Oquaye, Messrs Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, Dan Botwe, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, Kyeremateng Agyarko, Kwabena Agyepong and Hackman Owusu-Agyeman.

This is quite a formidable team to select one person from, as against the six candidates who contested the Convention People’s Party (CPP) flagbearership, the four candidates who contested that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the two who vied for that of the People’s National Convention (PNC).

One could argue that the large number of presidential aspirants is a credit to the internal democracy existing in the NPP, which allows for diverse opinions and freedom of choice. It could also be an indica¬tion that the party is rich in human resource, a pool of human wealth out of which several presidential materials could be found.

But for their styles, there is very little to separate the candidates. Their campaign messages are a monotonous cacophony of the standard promises made by politicians to the electorate.

Almost in unison, they have all pledged to fight corruption, and as people who were once in government or are still in it, they know every bit of what they are talking about.

They are also quite uniform in their determination to fight unemployment, hunger and disease, improve educational and health infrastructure, build good roads and remove tribalism, nepotism and cronyism from our body politic. I have even heard one of them promising to build a state university in all the regions.

These are fantastic promises that any nation yearning for development will welcome. But, as we all know, they are easier said than done.

As President J. A. Kufuor’s second and final term heads towards an end, we are still waiting for the fulfilment of some of his very important promises. These include the modem fishing harbour promised the people of Jamestown in Accra and the nationally or even sub-regionally important and strate¬gic Accra-Paga Railway project promised the nation.

That means campaign promises alone are not enough to determine who should be elected as the party’s flagbearer. What the nation expects from the delegates is a choice not only for the party but also one which will be an asset to the nation.

As leading motivational speaker, Mr Emmanuel Dei-Tumi, observed in the Daily Graphic of Wednesday, December 12, 2007, what the nation had lacked over the last 50 years was a sustainable national vision for socio-economic trans¬formation.

All the campaign promises are valid, but what the nation wants is a leader who can harness all available resources, both human and material, to activate those promises and transform them into national development goals.

We want a leader who, as soon as he is elected President of the land, will look beyond party supporters, loyalists and interests and begin to see Ghana as his party and Ghanaians as his constituents.

We want a leader whose promises do not end on political platforms but go beyond that to crystallise into national monuments. We want leaders who dream into the next 50 to 100 years and not just four or eight years of their tenure, leaders who will challenge the scientific and technological community to come up with inventions that will bring us out of perpet¬ual mediocrity and revolutionise the industrial landscape of the country.

Ghana’s problems over the last 50 years cannot be attributed to lack of resources. They have more to do with those who were at the helm of affairs.

A lot also had to do with the disjointed programmes that have characterised our national life, with each successive government trying to undo what was done by its predecessors and initiating its own programmes.

That is why we want a leader who will not throw overboard what others before him have done but will build and improve upon them.

That was why Mr Dei-Tumi noted that there is a difference between vision and policy and that a lot of what past governments referred to as national visions were rather policies which often emanated from the ideologies of political parties.

In short, we want movers and achievers. Visionary leaders driven by the desire to leave a legacy for their people are not easy to come by. However, if the delegates will think beyond the weight of their pockets, ethnic and religious biases, they are more than likely to find someone who will fit into this description or at least come very close to it.

The campaign itself started on a very civil note, but as things started to gather momentum, elements of acrimony, backbiting, suspicion and accusation of huge sums of money changing hands began to emerge.

In the last few days to the D-day, we wish to appeal to all the candidates and their supporters to maintain cool heads to ensure that the party emerges from the congress stronger and more united.

Our prayer is that they will give us a leader who, should become President, will set the country on a path of development and transform it from the near beggar status into a truly independent vibrant and proud nation.

Source: Daily Graphic/Kofi Acordor