A former Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, yesterday threw his hat into the race for the presidency when he picked nomination forms to contest the flag bearer position of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Dr Akoto was not present at the party headquarters to personally pick the forms but an entourage, led by his spokesperson, Prince Amuzu Sodoke and a former Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the party, Alfred Boye, among others picked the form on his behalf after paying the GH¢50,000 nomination fee to the Presidential and Parliamentary Election Committee.
They were accompanied by scores of supporters decorated in party paraphernalia who carried portraits of Dr Akoto chanting party themes and singing popular songs remixed with the former minister’s name.
He becomes the fifth flag bearer hopeful to pick the nomination forms to contest the November 4 presidential primary of the party.
Before then, the party would hold a Special Electoral College Elections on August 26, 2023 if more than five members file to vie for the flagbearership.
This is to reduce the number of the presidential aspirants to a minimum of five for the national congress to elect a presidential candidate for the party.
Those who have so far picked the forms since nomination opened last Friday, May 26, 2023 are a former Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, who was the first to pick the forms; a former NPP General Secretary and presidential spokesperson, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong; a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Mampong, Francis Addai-Nimoh and a former Minister of State, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku.
In his address after being presented with the nomination forms at his office in Accra, Dr Akoto expressed his gratitude to the group for contributing to purchase the forms on his behalf and assured he would not let them down.
“We are going to campaign across the country to sell our message for the resuscitation of the NPP as a party.
The morale is down but we are going to raise it to face the NDC in 2024,” he added.
He gave special commendations to his campaign team for doing what he termed as a fantastic job and charged them to “raise the game to a new level until the delegates will decide,which is going to end in a victory I am confident of.”
In response to why he was focusing primarily on the nation’s agricultural sector, Dr Akoto said agriculture was the only sector that could generate local revenue and foreign exchange to fund the country’s industrialisation agenda.
To buttress his point, he said most developmental projects across the country had been financed by both internal and external debts, in spite of revenues from oil and gold which had landed the country at the doorstep of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 17 times.
“After managing it for six years and working across the world, I’m saying we need to give priority to agriculture because it is the only sector with the capacity to generate foreign exchange to finance our industrialisation, healthcare, education, infrastructure among others,” the former minister stressed.