Our paths crossed for the first time in 2006 at the University of Ghana, specifically Commonwealth Hall. I had gone to ‘City’ to see a course mate of mine. He walked in, said a few words and checked out.
My course mate would later reveal to me that the gentleman had started the journey of aspiring to lead the students front as the SRC President. Legon has often been littered with young, vibrant and ambitious young men and women with a desire to lead the students front. Some of them had gone on to have great political careers.
It’s a long list. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Freddie Blay and more come to mind. The Political careers of these gentlemen started long before they became the popular names we heard on radio and television. The University of Ghana served as a platform for them to nurture their leadership skills to hit the ‘road’ after school.
I thought it was always great to test one’s mettle for a leadership position and that it was really up to him (Sammy) to push that agenda if he so wished. Months later, I saw his posters pop up all over campus. To the best of my recollection as a student of the Premier University, a strong ‘City’ affinity appeared to give student leaders who vied for positions a cushion for success.
They were good at mobilizing the brothers on election day and be supportive of the entire campaign process. When they found a candidate good enough from their quarters, they rallied around the individual with unmatched support. There was a challenge he would however have to surmount. Lord Koranteng Hammah.
A charismatic, vocal, populist, magnetic, eloquent speaker. He was the man Sammy had to get past for the ultimate. In Lords corner was DM Ofori-Atta, another top guy. A duo who could arouse the emotions of the student’s body and get them onside. A duo that gave the school authorities one hell of a time in dealing with the needs and wants of students.
How I vividly recall that night on the campaign front when Hammah and DM visited Sarbah Main Hall, my Hall of residence at the time, and electrified the place with their presence. Readers who were students of the Hall would not forget that night quickly. At a point in his speech, Hammah took out a white handkerchief from his pocket, akin to Kwame Nkrumah, and made that famous statement. ‘They are few, but we are many.’
The entire electoral campaign was so intense that a decision was taken by the school authorities to literally discontinue the process. The wishes of Sam, Hammah and others to lead the students front did not materialize. They probably got on with their lives after all that intense campaign to pursue other dreams I reckon. Well, that was what I thought. Sam had other ideas though. The Legon saga was not going to end a dream.
A few years down the line, I bumped into him at the compound of one of the Media Houses in Accra where he had appeared as a guest on a political program representing the New Patriotic Party.
I got into another office at that station and the lads in there were incidentally glued to that Political program. He spoke with a lot verve and strongly. He articulated his views in a clear and dispassionate manner and seemed to be on top of a lot of issues. I just watched.
He would appear on many political shows subsequently and gradually appear to be winning the hearts and minds of many especially the Youth. He would later vie for the National Youth Organiser position and win the elections in 2014 with 471 votes. Now this was at the time the NPP was in opposition with many party faithful especially the Youth disillusioned with the outcome of the 2012 election petition and looking for that young and dynamic voice who could rally the numbers together with the support of the National Organiser. Enter Sammi Awuku.
Together with then National Organiser John Boadu who later transitioned to hold the General Secretary’s position, the duo would comb the hook and crannies of this country to solicit for votes and mounted multiple platforms with then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo. He would earn all kinds of names and titles in the process. Some he has maintained till this day. Capo appears to be the defining one.
For me, what defined Sam’s political career was the presser he addressed early on the 9th of December, 2016 with the election results filtering in. A young, confident and assertive Awuku told the world at a presser by the Youth Wing of the party that with over 80% of the votes counted, the NPP had a sizeable lead and called on the Electoral Commission to declare the party victors in the election.
He was not forcing the hand of the Electoral Commission in declaring the results. He seemed to have the numbers we were all waiting for. He knew something that many didn’t know. We know what happened later that day. Madam Charlotte Osei would announce the results in favour of the NPP.
Many young political guys appear to come out rude, disrespectful or worse after aligning with parties in power. I have seen and met loads of them across the Political divide. Some who could not afford three square meals speak with embarrassing levels of arrogance and crass. Not Sam. Polite, respectful and accommodating. He appears to have time for anyone and everything. And oh, we have crossed paths on multiple occasions since.
I was in Koforidua to cover the NPP delegates election as a media person in 2018 when he aspired for the position of National Organiser. I recall interviewing him before the vote. His message was poignant. He had set himself the task of leading the NPP to glory in 2020 as the lead organiser and he was going to make that happen if given the nod. The results of that election were announced at dawn the following morning.
He walked to our stand (Class 91.3fm) and respectfully engaged us. I asked him a simple question centered on how quickly he was rising in the party. At 3:36am, he smiled and responded courteously. ‘For God and country. This is only part of the process. I together with my other executives have a responsibility of helping the party retain power and that is the ultimate, he stressed.’
Sam may have since moved on to work with the Youth Employment Agency as Board Chairman and National Lotteries as Chief Executive but his influence and relevance is not lost on the Party faithful. His political ambitions are clear. Next step, Parliament. He is vying for the Akwapim North seat, a traditional NPP seat in the 4th republic. Agyare Koi Larbi, Lawyer William Ofori Boafo and Nana Dokua Bissue have held the seat since 1996. Looks like a done deal from what I gather.
If the numbers I saw on the 4th of August for the Ofie Walk is anything to go by, then he is in a comfortable lead. He is a grassroots man delivering on multiple fronts in the constituency and beyond. To get the sitting MP Nana Dokua move out and contest another seat in Accra (Okaikoi North) tells a story. He is the man of the locals.
His works must have culminated in landing the job as Campaign Manager of Dr Mahamadu Bawumia ahead of the NPP Presidential Primaries. You don’t get such top jobs everyday if you are not cut out for the position. I have no idea how the Vice President settled oh him as his campaign capo. What I do know however is that Sam is a go getter, a man of the people and a man who can work the electoral numbers for victory.
In recent times when the campaign has became a bit too intense with salvos being fired from opposing camps, he has dealt with them with tact and finesse with his comments and behind the scenes diplomacy. Indeed, Hon Ken Agyepong has since revealed that following his showdown comments, a telephone conversation was facilitated by Sammy for the two(Hon Agyepong and Dr Bawumia) to iron out any issues that may have arisen.
He has already gone past the Special Delegates conference as Capo with over 66% of the votes for candidate Dr Bawumia. Can he get past November 4th and put the icing on the cake on December 7th, 2024? On the evidence of his works, it must be tough to bet against him leading his candidate to glory. Time would tell.
The writer, Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang is a Communications and International Relations Professional and an Adjunct Lecturer at African University College of Communications, Pentecost and Knutsford Universities.