Was not sure he would be the party’s flag bearer. The more I observed the political landscape, the more I felt he is the heir apparent who may never be crowned king. However, I was convinced he was going to fight for the nomination till the very end. So, waking up to learn that Alan Kyerematen was withdrawing from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Presidential primary was quite surprising.
How did it all fall apart?
The commentary in public spaces alludes to several reasons why he withdrew from the race – a) resource limitations; b) an early recognition of eventual defeat; c) a lack of a core constituency in the party. Mr Kyerematen cited several reasons in his press statement – a) the race being skewed; b) acts of intimidation and violence and c) a concern that these were only going to intensify in the lead up to the November 4 primary.
Whatever the reasons, in the end one thing is clear – another presidential run for the man popularly known as Alan ‘Cash’ has come to an end.
I have been reflecting on his candidacy along a few key points.
The result of the super delegates contest was demoralising. I expected a very competitive race even though I believed Dr Bawumia was going to emerge victorious. The results were shocking for two reasons; a) the margin of victory between him and Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and b) his third-place finish.
For a man who has regularly participated in the party’s primary and long nursed presidential ambitions, this was a very disappointing performance in my opinion.
I also noticed that his vote share in the party’s presidential primary has been on the downward trend since his strong second place showing, among 17 candidates, in the 2007 primary.
I can understand his poor showing in the 2012 and 2016 flag bearer races given the strong support that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo still enjoyed in the party. But the results of the super delegates conference may have served as the first strong signal to him that support within the party was not as strong as he thought. He still could have waited to find out though on November 4, 2023.
The game changer though, I argue, is the Bawumia factor. Relatively unknown when first nominated as running mate of the current President in 2008 and a late entrant into NPP politics, there is no denying that within a relatively short time, the Vice-President has built for himself a strong base of support within the party.
And the force of that base was simply difficult to challenge with a narrative of “it is my turn.” It is my turn may have worked in previous primaries but the dynamics were different for this race.
In his statement, Kyerematen said the following “In the next upcoming weeks, I will provide an indication of the role that I will play in politics in Ghana after consultations with my family and other well-wishers, various stakeholders and interest groups.”
What next is anyone’s guess and we will have to wait to see what becomes of this consultative process and how it will shape whatever role he wants to play in the country’s politics.
There has been some speculation that he may run as an independent candidate. Others have said he could be the running mate of Dr Bawumia who appears to be coasting to victory. But these are all speculations.
I will not speculate what he is likely to do. I will also not offer any advice on what he should do. Presidential ambitions do not die easily but what becomes of it is entirely up to Mr Kyerematen.
But to the party and its faithful, I will offer some friendly advice. Going into a general election, the one thing every political party absolutely needs is unity. In intraparty competitions, it is easy to lose sight of who you are “fighting.”
It is, therefore, incumbent upon the leadership to work hard to prevent anything that chips away at party unity. One of the ways you do that is how you resolve primary grievances.
From the press statement, Mr Kyerematen leaves the race with some grievances. Whether the party accepts the legitimacy or otherwise of those grievances, it must give it full attention.
The candidate and his supporters, whatever their numbers, must feel a sense of fairness in the resolution of those grievances.
Yes, sections of the party may not be happy with some of his assertions but this is where leadership comes in. Besides, no one ever said leadership is an easy task.
Memories of his 2007 resignation plus a withdrawal from the 2023 primary may have lost him warm embraces from some. But I believe that victors must always be gracious in victory.
Remember, party unity first!
NB: The writer is a fellow of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).