The race for the next chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) will be a straight fight between acting chairman, Freddy Blay and Stephen Ntim.
This is because The Herald’s sources at the presidency, have revealed that one of the three contenders, is stepping down, few weeks to the polls.
Alhaji Abubakar Abdul-Raman popularly known as Alhaji Short, has had a meeting with the Presidency to step down and throw his weight behind acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay.
The July contest is now between former aspirant, Stephen Ntim and Mr. Blay, who got the position after Paul Afoko, was kicked out based on his disagreement with Nana Akufo-Addo.
It is not clear, why the new entrant discarded his ambition, but checks by this paper show that any candidate supported by the presidency since the NPP started electing its leaders this year, both from the constituencies and regions, have lost.
Alhaji Short, reportedly, was being financed and supported by the Presidency.
Insiders say, he may have seen the writings on the wall, hence his decision to let go the dream of becoming the next national chairman of the governing party.
The shocking decision, comes few weeks after Mr Ntim, publically claimed that President Akufo-Addo, called him and pleaded with him to step down for Alhaji Short.
Mr Ntim, has contested and lost the national chairmanship position on three occasions.
He has claimed President Akufo-Addo, met him on three occasions and appealed to him to step down for Alhaji Abdul-Raman.
According to him, the President told him, he would prefer his candidate, Alhaji Abdul-Raman, to become the national chairman.
Reacting to a tape in circulation which captures his [Ntim] meeting with some NPP supporters during which he confirmed the request by the President, Mr Ntim, said he was not going to lie about anything, but explained that he did not say that he can’t be treated as Afoko as reported.
Rather, he said he would not be another Afoko and create tension between himself and the President.
Explaining himself in a radio interview on Asempa FM, Mr Ntim, accused his opponent Alhaji Short of deliberately trying to thwart his campaign and that aside the destruction of his posters in areas such as Wa, and assigning people to secretly record his [Ntim] meetings with party supporters to distort it, they have also been planting people within the executives to ask questions.
Mr Ntim said, at one of his meetings, he was asked to comment on a speculation that President Akufo-Addo, had brought someone to challenge him and he told them that it was true.
So I told them that it was true that the President has a preferred candidate and I have met with him on three occasions on this issue, “he [Akufo-Addo] is appealing to me, and I’m also appealing to him, it is not a threat.”
“I’m not going to lie about anything, and I’m not going to make up any concoctions…it is a gentleman kind of negotiation… what is the secret about this,” he quipped.
He said, the President, appealed to him to step down for Alhaji Short, “I will not mince words, I will not decorate it, this is what it is, it is not a lie, I don’t think the President will lie about this, ok, he appealed to me passionately and I also told him my position.”
Asked about why President Akufo-Addo, would want him to step down, Mr Ntim, said he would not go public on that one, since it was an internal party matter, “I can’t divulge the reasons on radio,” he said.
What is the big deal about this, and people are saying “leaked tape, leaked tape”, there is nothing to this, he said in reference to the tape in circulation.
“I have not insulted anyone on this, then I also saw a caption on one of the TV stations that “I will not allow Akufo-Addo to treat me like Afoko, that is also a fallacy, I never said that, I am setting the records straight.
“What I said was that, I’m not going to be another Afoko whereby there was tension and all that and after winning the election, then there is tension between you and the president.
“Rather I said after winning the election, I will go to the president and pledge my support to him, I’m not going to fight my president, I’m not going to be another Afoko.
In 2001, he contested for the national vice chairman position, but in 2005, he contested with Peter Mac Manu for the national chairman position.
In 2010, he contested with the late Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey and with Paul Afoko and Fred Oware in 2014.
In all those past campaigns, Mr Ntim said, there were no tension and acrimony because his competitors were “experienced and loyal party people.”
He said, Mac Manu and Jake, never did anything to him and questioned why there was so much tension with the 2018 NPP national elections.