THE PUBLISHER has gathered that when delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) converge in Koforidua on June 17 to elect a National Chairman for the party, they would have only two names to pick from: Frederick Blay and Stephen Ntim.
The paper has gathered that the supposed third contender, Upper West Regional Chairman of NPP, Alhaji Abubakari Abdul Rahman affectionately called Alhaji Short would not be on the ballot either by selfwill or due to a strategic withdrawal by his hitherto pushers.
It is also clear as the biblical writings on the wall that the NPP is not in a mood to countenance the ‘behind the wall’ attempts by Sammy Crabbe, the suspended Second National Vice-Chairman of the party to contest for the party’s National Chairman position.
The choice between Ntim and Blay has become rather too close to call in a party that has a history of unpredictable delegates.
Frederick Worsemao Armah Blay, popularly called ‘Freddie Blay’, is the current acting National Chairman and his supporters tout him as being the ‘winning chairman’ under whose leadership the party won the 2016 polls.
“I wouldn’t say that I, Freddie Blay, as an individual, have played a yeoman’s role to make the party come to power. I think it will be too much for me to say so, but at the same time I am saying that I am a lucky chairman; our party was almost in tatters when I had the opportunity to act as the chairman,” Blay stated when he picked his nomination forms at the party headquarters recently.
He is owner of the DAILY GUIDE newspaper, an astute lawyer and a politician. Admittedly, Blay’s quest to become the substantive chairman has been more colorful and obviously more visible than his closest contender, Ntim.
His critics have argued Blay is running a colorful campaign because he has wealth and resources. Indeed, Blay is reported to have confirmed news reports that he would personally sponsor the purchase of some 275 busses for each of the party’s constituency offices across the country, an announcement that has raised eyebrows on his source of wealth.
“I am supplying buses to all the constituency branches of the NPP. Each constituency will receive a bus from me personally for commercial purposes just to raise money for party activities…When you are resourceful, you will be able to do that. You don’t need to do that from your own pockets, no, you can’t do it that way; as a politician, you need to be resourceful and be able to raise funds for activities of such kind”, Mr. Blay explained on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme on Friday, 11 May.
Although he was originally voted into office as the First Vice National Chairman he was promoted to became the Acting National Chairman after the suspension of the then National Chairman, Paul Afoko. It is significant to note Paul Afoko was suspended alongside Sammy Crabbe.
However, Blay’s critics have not stopped accusing him of being a product of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and therefore not a true-blood member of the NPP.
Ironically, even when Blay was in the CPP, he was accused of being a member of the NPP because of his continuous flirting and political alliance with the latter party.
His supporters have argued that Blay should be judged by his actions, his contribution and loyalty to the NPP rather than by the political party he belonged to several years ago.
They have argued that unlike the biological families that one can become a member only through birth, political parties are joined by choice association and once you join and you get a party card you are a full and true member entitled to all the privileges and responsibilities.
Blay has served both as a First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and a Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
The quick-witted old lawyer, in his characteristic strategic style, has recently accelerated his campaign and seems to have his branded shirts and banners as well as cash flowing all over the party structures.
Blay’s greatest headache has been how to convince party folks he would be his own man and not one that would swallow hook line and sinker all the wishes and directives of the President, a man who has been his bosom friend and loyalist for almost five decades.
Stephen Ntim has had three unsuccessful attempts at grabbing the National Chairman slot but has expressed strong faith he would be lucky on his third attempt this time.
He, like Blay, has also served as First National Vice Chair of the party. But his added advantage is that he was once upon the time the NPP Regional Chairman for Brong Ahafo.
His loyalty, service, dedication, commitment and contribution to the fortunes of the party is clear and can be seen even by the visually challenged and has been heard by persons with hearing impairments.
Each time Ntim lost at his attempt to become National Chairman, he joined the winner and campaigned selflessly for the party.
As a fourth time contender, it is logical to argue that Ntim has travelled across the country to market himself many more times that Blay.
His added advantage is the face that the NPP has claimed to be a party that rewards commitment and hard work.
Many pundits have tipped Ntim as a lead candidate but in politics and matters of elections, public good will and verbal support is never a guarantee for victory.
It is a fact that Ntim has paid his dues and gone through the mill, and waited in the queue, serving the NPP diligently.
His challenge has however been a perception he belongs to a certain faction within the party. That negative tag seems to have popped up only now that Ntim wants to be chairman. Prior to the 2016 polls when he was with the then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo toiling for the party’s victory, no one fingered him as belonging to one faction or the other.
There are reports that a couple of party big wigs had attempted to get Ntim to rescind his decision to contest but his camp has insisted the delegates should be allowed to take that decision when they meet at Koforidua on June 17.