The ruling New Patriotic Party(NPP) is scheduled to elect its flagbearer to lead them into the 2024 general elections in the coming months if not weeks.
This has become necessary due to the fact that the President, Nana Akufo-Addo’s tenure of office as leader of the party and president of the Republic of Ghana, will expire around same time.
As with every election cycle, the impending flagbearership race will not be without the usual jostling and political maneuvering by potential aspirants and their aparachiks.
The first time the NPP elected its flagbearer through an open competitive contest while in government, was in 2007 and that contest had an unprecedented number of 17 aspirants contesting to replace president John Agyekum Kufuor whose tenure as the president of Ghana and leader of the NPP had come to an end.
As a result, the impending presidential primaries will be the second time the party will elect a flagbearer while in power.
One of the major challenges that has characterised such elections is what has also come to be known as the incumbency curse. A party in power seeking a third term under this fourth Republic, has remained a jinx which it has vowed to break.
Many Ghanaians and some political watchers have hoped that the usual bickering and acrimonies that have bedeviled such contest in the NPP would not repeat themselves due the dire consequences on the fortunes of the party.
For many, the unpleasant experience of 2007 should serve as a warning signal to the NPP. While the 2007 contest could be said to be tight, it was unique in its own right as the electoral college was very limited and skewed.
However, the same has since been expanded to help address some of the difficulties it brought about.
Apart from the National Council, National Executive Committee and other officers of state in the party, more than one-hundred and ninety thousand (190,000) polling station executives will now be expected to vote to elect a presidential candidate for the party.
Thus far, a number of the party big wigs have either openly or quietly declared intentions to contest the position of the flagbearer. Prominent among the many are the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alan Kyerematen, Dr. Boakye Agyarko, the Minister of Food and Agriculture and Dr. Akoto Afriyie.
As these potential aspirants criss-cross the length and breadth of the country to solicit support from party members, it is evident that by and large each and everyone of them has conducted themselves well. None of them has been spotted or found on record to be denigrating the other.
It is important to emphasise that If this trend continues into the electioneering, it will be good for the party as it will help make it easier to heal any wound or crack that is likely to emerge due to the intensity of the contest.
Unfortunately, while the real contenders seem to be waging a clean and decorous campaign, their apparatchiks seem to be the ones muddying the waters.
Rather than preaching unity, most of these supporters and followers have resorted to very divisive and in some cases tribal tendencies that have the potential to destroy the party.
Certain individuals and spokespersons purporting to be speaking or campaigning for some of the flagbearer aspirants have resorted to use of the tribal card as a major weapon in their campaign rounds.
Obviously what they are forgetting is the fact that Ghana is made up of different tribes with various ethnic groups thus any attempt to play the tribal card may end up destroying everyone.
The fear is that if every aspirant decides to capitalise on his tribe and exploit it for political gains, it would create a chaotic situation which would invariably work against the collective good of the party in a run up to the general elections.
For this reason, it is important for all aspirants and their supporters, to eschew tribal bigotry and focus on civil campaign.
It is important for all to come to this realization because at the end of the day, the NPP must be the ultimate winner.
While competition naturally breeds factions, allowing factionalism to fester and destroy the party, should be guarded against.
It is important to emphasise that, at the end of every political contest, each faction will need the support of the other and this is even more critical if it is an internal contest requiring one to lead into a national contest.
This is even the more reason the NPP must try as much as possible, to refrain from messages and communications, that inflame passions against one another.
All the hopefuls who have shown interest so far are not only renowned but competent in their own rights and have excelled in their various professional endeavours.
We call on all appointed spokespersons and communicators who get the opportunity to speak for an aspirant, to extol the virtues and the professional competence of the aspirants instead of playing the ethnic card as this is detrimental to the chances of the national party.
Unity and cohesion should be the watch phrase for aspirants and their supporters. Long live NPP! Long live Ghana!