All is set for the presidential primary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Hot favourite and two-time flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, two-time attempted presidential aspirant Mr Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen and new kid on the block, Mr Francis Addai Nimoh, are seeking the mandate of the over 140,000 delegates to become the standard bearer of the party for the 2016 Election.
The NPP goes into its final expanded national congress ahead of the 2016 general election, after successfully organising its polling station, constituency, regional and national elections that elected the national executive to run the day-to-day affairs of the party.
That process paved the way for the party to enter the final leg of conducting its presidential primary today.
Who leads the NPP from opposition to attempt to go into government is the question NPP delegates would have to answer in today’s crucial nation-wide exercise.
The party leadership has outlined guidelines for today’s election, which starts from 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. for counting and declaration of results at the Afua Sutherland Park in Accra to follow.
Already, the voters register (album) for the 275 constituencies has been compiled. Voting is not by biometric means but will be conducted under the CI 75 regulation.
According to the guidelines, there shall be no campaigning at the polling stations and it is unacceptable for party members, delegates or supporters to wear T’shirts or other items of the various candidates at the polling stations.
Voters who display the candidate of their choice at the polling station after marking the ballot paper will have their votes nullified.
Aspirants are entitled to nominate two agents to represent them at the results collation centre at the Electoral Commission headquarters. A candidate may also appoint two polling agents to attend at every polling station nationwide but only one will be engaged at any given time.
According to the guidelines, the refusal of candidate’s agents to sign declared results sheets would not invalidate the election results.
No voter shall take photos of any “thumb-printed” ballot paper or engage in any acts that would lead to violence at the polling station.
Party officials are not allowed to give directives to the presiding officer, as well as the delegates, during the election.
The party has also provided all logistics needed for today’s exercise. The Treasurer of the party, Mr Kwabena Abankwa Yeboah explained “We have paid for transport for polling station officers in orphan constituencies and we have an agreement with MPs to support in their constituencies.”
This is to ensure that delegates, the kingmakers, who are going to decide the fate of the three presidential aspirants do not have to go through any hustles as they travel long distances to their polling stations.
On security to ensure that the presidential primary takes place in a violent-free atmosphere, 2,000 police personnel are being deployed to the 276 polling stations designated for the primary.
The Electoral Commission (EC) has also indicated that ballot papers and other logistic arrangements for the conduct of the NPP presidential primary are ready.
Those eligible to vote at the national level are members of the National Council, the National Executive Committee and the Steering Committee. At the constituency levels, the electoral area co-ordinators, five polling station executives as well as the 16 members that make up the constituency executive are eligible to vote. The 16 members are the constituency chairman, 1st vice-chairman, 2nd vice chairman, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer and financial secretary.
Others are constituency organiser, deputy organiser, youth organiser, deputy youth organiser and Nasara coordinator.
The rest are women’s organiser, deputy women’s organiser, communications officer and electoral and research officer.
The five polling station executives entitled to vote are the polling station chairman, secretary, organiser, women’s organiser and youth organiser.
At the international level ,12 persons from each of the 16 external branches of the party, such as the UK, United States of America (USA), Japan and Germany branches are eligible to vote. Members of Parliament are also eligible to vote.
According to the General Secretary of the party, Mr Kwabena Agyepong, constituency patrons and constituency council of elders are not eligible to vote in the presidential primary.
There are high expectations within the camps of Nana Akufo-Addo, Mr Kyerematen and Mr Addai-Nimoh, as they are all hoping to clinch a massive victory today to give the NPP a head start for 2016.
Nana Akufo-Addo, in particular, is hoping to secure a repeat performance of the votes he got during the party’s Special Electoral College (SEC) on Sunday, August 31, 2014. In that election, he got an overwhelming endorsement of 80.81 per cent from the delegates. Indeed, his supporters are confident he will secure his much-touted high percentage votes of 90 per cent and beyond at today’s primaries to show once again that there is massive support for him in the NPP.
Mr Addai-Nimoh and Mr Kyerematen are also optimistic of their chances and have left nothing to chance to become the 2016 flag bearer of the party.
Mr Kyerematen, who garnered 7.9 per cent during the party’s SEC, is banking his hopes on grassroot support who constitute a huge chunk of the over 140,000 delegates.
Mr Addai-Nimoh who also got 2.9 per cent has so far made a good showing throughout the NPP national exercise to elect a flag bearer and is awaiting any reverses of fortunes by the two front runners to cause an upset.
If Mr Addai-Nimoh tops the race or comes second, he will trigger a debate within the party and the political sphere as to the political chances of Mr Kyerematen in any future NPP presidential elections.
Mr Kyerematen, therefore, has no choice than to succeed this time round in his bid to become the flag bearer or at worse, maintain his enviable second position since any slip to third position will dent his political ambition.