In less than 24 hours, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) will go to the polls to elect a new flagbearer for the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections to face its bitterest political rivals; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which will be fielding incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo for the fourth time.
Although Akufo-Addo is yet to announce his interest, it’s certain that he will be on the 2020 Presidential ballot paper and facing for the third and final time, ex-President John Dramani Mahama who is hugely tipped to win the NDC ticket tomorrow.
Unlike in the past when the NDC organizeddelegates’ conference at one location to conduct Presidential election, the party will for the first time have 300, 000 voters voting in their respective constituencies; an innovation in terms of numbers which is likely to be copied by other parties in future.
Election starts at 7am and ends at 5pm except in Jaman South and Cheriponi where polls will start at 7am and end at 3pm because of the curfew imposed on the two constituencies.
Seven flagbearer aspirants, including former President Mahama will contest the much anticipated presidentialprimary.
They are: Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford SumaniBagbin; former Vice Chancellor of University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Joshua Alabi; former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Sylvester Mensah; former Trade Minister EkowSpio-Garbrah; businessman NurideenIddrisu and cadre, GoosieTanoh who at a point in time left the party to form the Reform Party after some disagreement with the leadership of the party.
Mr.Mahama has been tipped as a frontrunner who is likely to sweep most of the votes. What is not clear however is the margin he is going to win with? If by close of tomorrow, the former President wins whether with a small or large margin, it will be a rematch between him and President Akufo-Addo whom he beat in 2012 but came back to beat him in 2016.
Even though the party’s Constitution directs that such elections should be held two clear years before general election, the umbrella group could not strictly follow through this because, last year, the party had to halt preparations because of an interim injunction placed on the elections by an Accra High Court.
The injunction followed the filing of a suit by two members of the NDC in Accra, who claimed that the guidelines for the conduct of the election introduced by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party were against the 1992 constitution of the NDC.
The plaintiffs – Abdallah Issa from Galelia and James KabuNatey-Oman from Old Bortianor – applied for the injunction to restrain the party and its committees agents and authorised bodies from proceeding with the 2019 Presidential Election in the manner outlined in its published guidelines until the final ruling of the court.
However, on Monday, January 14, 2018, the plaintiffs agreed to settle the issue out of court with the party after Counsel for the NDC, Samuel Cudjoe told the Accra High Court that the parties were in talks to reach a settlement. This paved way for a new date which wasfixed for Saturday February 23, 2019.
Tomorrow, a total of 300,000 delegates will be expected to cast their votes comprising nine members from each branch (polling) station, constituency and regional executives as well as national executives and Council of elders.
Also amongst the list of delegates, are former and current Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers as well as former appointees of the party.
Before reaching here, the party which elected it new national executives headed by former Director of Elections, Samuel OfosuAmpofo, last year had to cross some huddles which nearly drew the election further back.
First was the pegging filing fees of the election which was GHS 400,000from GH¢50,000 in 2016. Most of the candidates with the exception of MrMahama and Prof. Alabi, registered their protest and petitioned the former president and founder of the party, Jerry John Rawlings to intervene.
Their wish was granted and so after it was reduced toGHc 300,000, the party suffered another blow after it members were shot by faceless gun-wielding National Security operatives at La Bawaleshie during a by-election to replace Member of Parliament (MP) for the Constituency, Emmanuel KyeremantenAgyarko who died in November 2018.
The incident which led to the party’s MP for Ningo-Prampram Sam George Nettey, receiving a hefty slap by one of the operatives, has some of the party members still at the 37 Military Hospital,being giving medical care. The brutalities which were live on television got people outraged leading to the president setting up an independent three-member Commission of Enquiry headed by a former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Emile Francis Short. While the Commission continues to interrogate witnesses, last Monday, the party was dealt with another blow at it Ashanti Regional headquarters.
WasiuIddrisu was shot to death after alleged some members of the party’s vigilante group, the Harks, stormed the headquarters to settle what appears to be personal scores with some of the members gathered.
Another victim, identified as Abdul Rahman, who was also shot by the gun-wielding thugs, is nursing serious wounds at the KomfoAnokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).
The dastardly act which occurred at a time MrOfosuAmpofo and General Secretary Johnson AsieduNketia aka General Mosquito were having a meeting with regional executives over prior intelligence that some people were scheming to disrupt tomorrow’s election has angered many members of the party.
Meanwhile, the Ashanti Regional Police Command has banned the use of motorbikes at the party’s flagbearer election centers in the region which comes off tomorrow.
According to the police, no motorbike whether registered or unregistered would be allowed at the voting centers in the region and called on members of the party as well as representatives of the various candidates to adhere to the new directive.
In a statement signed by the Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer ASP Godwin Ahianyo and copied to MyNewsGh.com, it stated that the regional police command has resolved to provide adequate security to ensure incident-free elections, devoid of violence and act of lawlessness.
It further stressed that, all persons who have nothing to do at the centers and are only observing the proceedings should stay at least 50 meters radius away from the centers.
The statement disclosed that police will arrest whoever is seen riding motorbike close to the polling centers while the motorbike impounded.
“Busing .of party taskforce members to polling centers shall not be entertained”, the statement further warned.
“The public is hereby cautioned that, taskforce has been formed to visit various voting centers and arrest all motorbike riders that will be found loitering around the voting centers”.
The latest directive is part of measures not to repeat the shooting incident that was recorded at the Regional Secretariat of the party on Monday leading to the death of Wasiu.