Members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are reportedly sweating in the selection of a candidate to partner their flag bearer, ex-President John Dramani Mahama, who is staging a comeback.
Mr. Mahama was overwhelmingly endorsed by NDC delegates more than a year ago, but seven months into the 2020 presidential election, he is yet to present the name of his running mate to the party’s Council of Elders for deliberation.
On February 23, 2019, certified results from the Electoral Commission gave Mr. Mahama an overwhelming 213,487 votes, representing 95.23% of the total valid votes cast, with the other six contenders altogether managing a little over 4%.
They are now using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse for not selecting their running mate on time.
Their General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, in an interview with Accra-based ‘Onua TV’ yesterday, said the Covid-19 pandemic was hampering their effort to announce a running mate.
He said “if the time comes, we shall name the running mate but for now, the President has said we should fight the coronavirus so that is our focus.”
“If the economy is in bad shape, it affects every sector. We have an emergency situation so we must pay attention to it,” he added.
Mr. Asiedu Nketia in a sarcastic manner then started quoting President Akufo-Addo’s comment that government knows how to revive the economy but does not know how to bring back human life, saying “if we are all sick or running away because of coronavirus, by December, how can you go for elections?”
He then appeared to attribute their inability to announce a running mate to the ban on public gatherings, saying “if the President lifts the ban on public gatherings and normalcy is restored, we shall do normal things.”
There have been many names flying in the media space and other political circles as possible running mate for Mr. Mahama.
Names like Former Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor; former Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho; former Finance Minister, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey; former Agric Minister, Kwesi Ahwoi; former Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah Oppon; former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Opuni; former Petroleum Minister, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah; former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Eric Opoku; former Tema Oil Refinery Boss, Kwame Awuah-Darko; former Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Boss, Alex Mould; former Education Minister, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, and many others have been speculated.
In an editorial analysis by popular journalist Paul Adom Otchere on ‘Metro TV’ last Monday, for instance, he said the NDC was looking for a running mate who would not attract the ire of the party’s founder, former President Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.
“They still don’t have a running mate for the election that is seven months away. If you believe in omen then it should be a worrying signal for the NDC themselves because historically since 2000, the NDC has done their best performance in 2008 when the running mate was announced early,” he stated.
He gave a historical background to the selection of running mates for the NDC and said the NDC had delayed in the selection of Mr. Mahama’s partner for the 2020 battle.
In 2000, he said then Vice-President Prof. John Evan Mills announced his running mate, Martin Amidu, in September 2000. In 2004, Prof. Mills announced Mohammed Mumuni in October, and in 2008, he named Mr. John Mahama as running mate in April and the NDC went on to win that year’s election
He said the current situation in the NDC was all about Mr. Rawlings’s ‘interest’ in Mr. Mahama’s running mate.
“NDC leadership is meeting to decide on who Mahama wants as his running mate. They are considering regional context,” he added.
He claimed Central Region (CR) had been ruled out after getting the slot in 1992, 1996, 2012, and 2016, adding that since 2000, the CR has been on every NDC ticket whether as flag bearer (Prof. Mills) or running mate (Amissah Arthur).
“The groundswell of opinion is that there would not be any CR in 2020,” he said.
He said the northern regions were excluded from the running mate selection for 2020, because the flag bearer (Mr. Mahama) is from the area.
He stated that the NDC was looking at Western Region with Mr. Kofi Buah (NDC MP for Ellembelle) or Kwesi Ahwoi as a possible running mate, while in the Bono and Ahafo regions they are looking at either Dr. Opuni or Eric Opoku.
In the Eastern Region, the Metro TV Good Evening host claimed the NDC wanted Marietta Brew for Eastern Region, Prof. Joshua Alabi for Greater Accra and former President Rawlings’s daughter, Dr. Zanetor Rawlings, NDC MP for Klottey Korley as running mate from the Volta Region.
He said, however, that Mr. Mahama and Mr. Rawlings had already met and the consensus appears to be that the NDC should go for a running mate from the Ashanti Region, which is the stronghold of the ruling NPP, adding that Dr. Duffuor and Awuah Darko are in the lead over there.
He said, currently, there are three groups in the NDC that are divided when it came to election issues and they were grappling over whether to have a running mate that Mr. Rawlings backs or ignore the former President.
He said those who think Mr. Rawlings should be ignored were called the Ahwoi Brothers and the Fante Confederacy and they are those backing Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, whom Mr. Rawlings dislikes.
He said another group had been asking about the influence and relevance of Mr. Rawlings in the current political dispensation but a third group in the NDC had been urging caution about Mr. Rawlings because they said “whenever he speaks it resonates among the rank and file of the party and the political landscape.”