The Member of Parliament (MP) for Bekwai, Mr. Kwadwo Osei Owusu alias Joe Wise, says he is responsible for the loss the New Patriotic Party (NPP) suffered in the 2008 elections.
Speaking at an NPP rally at Bekwai last Tuesday, he said, ?Bekwai presented a fractured front. In the year 2000 when I was party chairman, we worked very hard and Kufuor won with 44,000 votes, NDC had only 4000. In 2004, we even extended that, but in 2008, we dropped and the reason is simple-all the attention and resources available to us were used to focus on the competition between me as an independent candidate and the NPP candidate so we abandoned the campaign for the presidency.
?We virtually left Nana Addo?s ballot unattended, we left no message targeted at the opposition then and therefore the opposition gained grounds. Whereas our presidential candidate lost 6000 plus votes, the NDC gained over 1000 votes and is one major contribution to why Nana lost eventually,? he said.
The maiden New Patriotic Party (NPP) rally in the Bekwai Constituency of the Ashanti Region had been surrounded by tension, owing to the feeling of mistrust between Joe Wise?s supporters and those of the vanquished NPP candidate, Mr. Kofi Adusei.
The rally had been billed as the ?National launch of the NPP?s campaign message,? and enthusiasm had been high among party supporters who started filling the rally ground as early as 10:00am.
The main reason for the enthusiasm was as a result of the massive media hype given to the programme, with the names of the flag bearer of the NPP and his running mate; National Chairman; former President J.A. Kufuor; Member of Parliament for Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong, and other notable figures, promoted as those who would address the rally.
However, deep into the programme, information filtered through that the national leadership had dodged the rally for fear their appearance would deepen the cracks in the party in Bekwai.
Some of the thousands of supporters who had thronged the rally grounds, some from as far as Kumasi and other nearby towns and villages, started leaving the rally grounds in mid afternoon when it became clear that most of the invited gurus of the party would not be attending.
It will be recalled that the NPP in Bekwai became embroiled in misunderstandings going into the 2008 elections that made the incumbent MP, Mr. Kwadwo Osei Owusu, to disengage from the NPP and contest as an independent candidate.
That rift appeared to have not been properly mended and therefore even at the rally grounds, some supporters of Joe Wise and the vanquished NPP candidate, Mr. Kofi Adusei, were seen exchanging words over why Joe Wise had to be allowed to speak on an NPP platform when he had not officially been admitted back into the NPP fold.
Although he came to the rally ground, Mr. Adusei, who also commands an appreciable support, refused to go on the platform and did not address the crowd.
There was rumour that per what was happening, the leadership of the NPP was planning to impose Joe Wise as the party?s candidate for the 2012 election, a situation supporters of Mr. Adusei were not taking kindly since their candidate is said to be still interested in another chance to wrestle the Bekwai seat from Joe Wise.
Addressing the rally, the Regional Chairman of the party, Mr. F.F. Anto, moved swiftly to defuse the tension by declaring that the NPP currently has no candidate for Bekwai.
He said the national leadership was preparing to organize elections in the area and called for calm among supporters in the constituency.
After his mea culpa, Joe wise said he had since his victory worked hard at bringing the party together.
In an interview, he said the over 34,000 people who voted for him had been re-admitted into the NPP and some were even holding positions.
He refused claims that the party?s big names shunned the rally because of the existing rift among supporters of the party in Bekwai and explained that Nana Addo explained to him the Sunday prior to the rally that there had been an emergency for which he had to rush to Nigeria.
According to hi, Nana Addo?s running mate should have attended, but he was also scheduled to deliver a speech somewhere and therefore could not make it; so the National Organiser was made to come.
As to his plans, he confirmed, ?An election would be conducted in September for the NPP?s candidate for this constituency. I shall enter the race and I will surely win to represent NPP in Parliament.?
While confirming that he had had no relationship with Mr. Kofi Adusei since their last contest, he stressed that the NPP was bigger and more important than any individual and therefore what was crucial was how to keep the party together.
He said there had been much improvement in the unity of the party in Bekwai.
?In the past, you could hardly get the entire executives working together as we are doing now,? he said, and advised against people seeing the competition between Mr. Adusei and him as disunity.
Others who addressed the rally included the National Organiser, Alhaji Muctar Bamba and some MPs.