The attempt by Freddie W. Blay, acting Chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to become the substantive boss of the party has received a massive boost.
This is because one of the main contenders, Alhaji Abubakari Abdul-Rahman, popularly known as Alhaji Short, who withdrew from the race last week, appears to have thrown his weight behind Mr. Blay who led the NPP to power in 2016, for the slot.
Last Friday, the NPP bigwigs who are vying for the position of national chairman were successfully vetted at the party’s headquarters at Asylum Down in Accra, with Short announcing his withdrawal.
Some political observers believe it’s a straight fight between incumbent acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, and three-time aspirant, Stephen Ayesu Ntim, as well as Dr. Richard Amoako Baah, a lecturer.
A statement titled ‘Why Alhaji Short has stepped down’ issued and signed by Alhaji Short himself, makes it clear that he was abandoning the race in order not to wreck the boat for the national executives who had led the party to defeat the NDC massively and brought the NPP to power; but to have them retained.
He said he and his team campaigned across the country and they were appreciated but the message on the ground was that the party should not do anything to disturb the status quo currently in place and he has accepted what the rank and file was saying wholeheartedly.
He made an allusion to the fact that one of the aspirants is already threatening to take on the president, saying that the president does not need an antagonistic leader to steer the affairs of the party.
He said: “Alhaji Short is a man for harmony, unity, loyalty and proven action. I do not want a situation which will see a conflict between party leadership and government. I do not want a situation, like we witnessed in the recent past, where conflict at the national leadership level affected the image, harmony and operations of the party. I am fully prepared to sacrifice for that. I see my decision to listen to the calls of the party as the necessary way to go and I am, therefore, very happy to go along with it.”
“The overwhelming sentiment on the ground is that the national leadership that steered the party throughout the very difficult times of 2014 and 2015, and led us to victory, must, as much as possible, be maintained,” Alhaji Short, who until recently was the Upper West Regional NPP Chairman said in the statement.
He said “the message that greets us wherever we go is ‘Still Maintain.’ It is not a protest vote against Alhaji Short or any other candidate. It is a vote of confidence in those who led us to victory, including incidentally, myself.”
He said “so for this reason and being myself a strong regional chairman during those testing times, I have listened to the overwhelming voice of the party and have decided to step down. I do so, throwing my weight behind the ‘Still Maintain’ mantra of the grassroots. It is for that reason and that reason alone that I have decided to step aside from contesting to be the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for 2018.
I know and believe that the interest of the party is far more important than my personal ambition.”
He said “the NPP is a party that respects and rewards loyalty and service,” adding that “Chairman Short will continue to give his optimal best to the party.”
“As a knowledgeable, experienced, loyal and respectable leading member of the party, I intend to focus more in helping the party consolidate the gains it made in 2016, in every capacity that I can. I will only plead with my supporters that I do not make this decision to step down lightly but I do so for the greater interest of the NPP. I, therefore, plead for your understanding, support and blessing.”