Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, March 19, 2016
The death is reported of Jacob Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, affectionately known as Jake, former National Chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), in far away London, the United Kingdom.
Smooth-talking Jake, who died in the early hours of yesterday (Palm Sunday) after what a family source said was a short illness, was 70 years old.
News about his death has sent shockwaves throughout the country, particularly among members of the NPP, which leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, described it as a tragedy and big loss.
Jake was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in a South African hospital before moving to London for recuperation and review. At that time there were wild rumours about his death before close friends and aides repelled the unfounded claims.
The NPP, through its acting General Secretary, John Boadu, issued a statement yesterday to confirm Jake’s death, describing him as “a true son of the nation.”
The statement indicated, “The New Patriotic Party regrets to announce the passing to glory of its former national chairman, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who led the party to victory in the 2000 and 2004 general election as Campaign Manager, died in London this dawn.”
It continued, “Mr Obetsebi Lamptey did not only serve his party selflessly and diligently, but also helped in nation building. He was a Chief of Staff and former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations in the cabinet of President John Kufuor.
“Indeed, a true son of the nation and great member of the elephant family has passed on. A great pillar has fallen. As we mourn this great man of our party and country, we request that all party flags - national, regional, constituency and polling stations offices - fly at half mast. Any other arrangements will be communicated to the general public in due course. We extend our deepest condolences to the family.”
Tributes have been pouring in for the late Jake, with Nana Akufo-Addo leading the pack.
“I am deeply saddened and distraught by the news of the death of my lifelong friend, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, which sad event occurred in the early hours of today, Palm Sunday, March 20, in London in the United Kingdom,” he said.
He said Jake was “a friend of long standing” whose death “brings up so many emotions – grief, sense of loss, reflections on friendship, the stark reality of mortality and the presence of the Living God.”
Growing Up Together
Nana Akufo-Addo said, “Indeed, Jake and I grew up together and forged a close friendship in our childhood, very similar to that which our fathers shared, which led to the significant roles they both played in the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the movement that initiated the struggle for Ghana’s freedom and independence.
“They were both members of the legendary Big Six of Ghanaian history. The UGCC is the mother party of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The ties between us were considerable.”
He said, “Colleagues in the NPP government will readily attest to the dedication and selflessness with which he served Mother Ghana. His love for the party and desire to see the NPP regain power resulted in his election in 2010 as National Chairman of the NPP, but lost his bid for re-election in 2014.”
The NPP flagbearer said Jake undoubtedly made an immense contribution to the NPP and the country, adding, “A proud Ga, he was an honest, patriotic and distinguished son of Ghana, whose loyalty to Ghana was unalloyed and who never wavered in his adherence to the values and principles of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition, which was, for him, the noblest tradition in Ghanaian politics.”
He described him as a tolerant and responsible person “who made many friendships across the political divide of our country.”
Nana Addo recalled, “A gregarious and fun-loving man, with an exceptional sense of humour, I will miss him immensely. I am confident all true devotees of the NPP and well-meaning Ghanaians will miss him too. A man with strong family values, I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to his dear wife Esther and their children.”
Jake’s daughter recently got married to Nana Akufo-Addo’s nephew to strengthen the bond of relationship between the two old pals. Unfortunately, Jake was not available to witness the joyous occasion as he was receiving treatment in South Africa at the time.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Nana Addo’s running mate, expressed sadness about the passing away of the NPP guru, saying, “Jake was a good man. He was most supportive of me – providing invaluable counsel always. I will always cherish the relationship I developed with him.”
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, on behalf of his party, said Jake’s death had hit the NDC very hard.
“The sad news of the passing away of Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey has hit the National Democratic Congress (NDC) very hard in the heart and we send out our heartfelt condolences to the immediate and extended families of the late former Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). We also commiserate with the NPP in this moment of grief.”
The statement added, “In all honesty, contemporary Ghanaian political history cannot be written without the mention of Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey; and we pray the Good Lord finds a peaceful resting place for his soul.”
NPP Big Tree
Jake is a founding member of the NPP and was the Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the party in its formative years in 1992, and later became the Greater Accra Regional Chairman.
He served as Campaign Manager for then candidate John Agyekum Kufuor and executed a perfect strategy that made the NPP win the highly contested 2000 general election.
He was one of the first appointees of President Kufuor when he was given the position of Minister for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff (2001), followed by Minister for Information (2002) and then subsequently as Minister for Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City (2002-2005).
He was again, in 2004, appointed Campaign Manager by President Kufuor who was seeking a second term in office and successfully delivered victory for the NPP.
Jake was one of the 17 aspirants who contested for the NPP presidential slot to take over from exiting President Kufuor in 2008 - a contest won by Nana Akufo-Addo.
In 2010, he contested and won the race to become the NPP National Chairman in Kumasi but lost the bid to retain the position in 2014 in Tamale.
As an advertising expert who once led the powerful AP Lintas, Jake had a rich political history.
His late father, Emmanuel Odarkwei Obetsebi-Lamptey, was one of the revered ‘Big Six’ who led the fight against British colonialism.
Jake was one of the petitioners who challenged the validity of the election of President John Mahama in the 2013 landmark presidential election petition.