Recent weeks has witnessed several press statements coming from NDC party interest groups demanding President Mahama to nominate a running mate who could take the NDC to the Presidency going forward to 2020 Elections.
Several NDC groupings have emphasized this position entreating President Mahama to muster courage and to change his current Veep, Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur. This started from press releases from groups claiming to be concerned Ga-Adangbe Youth in support of Okoe Vanderpuijee. Then came several calls for the likes of Stephen Opuni, Hannah Tetteh, Dr. Spio- Garbrah Nana Oye Lithur, Jane Opoku Agyeman and even Dr. Omane Boamah to replace the Vice -President.
This is a strong indication to President Mahama that while all NDC looks forward to a resounding victory for him, at the party’s primaries, those voting for him expect him also to exercise wisdom in his choice of running mate. The President may have chosen his current running mate in 2012 knowing that he the President will be entitled to a second term in office and could lead the party.
However the greatest fear of the Party which is necessitating this growing call is that if the President does not choose for 2016 a running mate who could potentially succeed him in 2020, then he would have displayed a poor sense of succession planning and NDC would be the total loser. Indeed, it was Prof Mill’s own realization of his failing health that he decided to change his running mate in 2007 for 2008 elections, so he could have someone to succeed him in case of any difficulty–which is exactly what happened.
After effects have now justified President Mills’ change of running mate as neither Muhammed Mumuni nor Martin Amidu could have successfully challenged Nana Akuffo Addo in 2012 elections and won. Similarly Rawlings realized that as popular as he was in 1995, he needed a more credible running mate in 1996 to win that election hence the choice of Prof. Attah Mills over then Vice President Kow Nkensen Arkaah.
So will His Excellency John Mahama muster the courage and follow the footsteps of both his mentors and be decisive for the future of the NDC? The call for change of Amissah Arthur which has gained more popularity in the NDC than ever before is a clear message to the national executives that even the most die-hard party members have no confidence the current Veep is cut out as charismatic enough to win crucial votes for the NDC in 2016 and in future elections.
Maybe, what the President may be thinking about now is to maintain the regional balance of the party. Currently, the NDC leader is from the North, Vice- President from Central region, Chief- of – Staff from Eastern region, National Chairman from Greater Accra, and General Secretary from Brong Ahafo. Could it be that the Central region lacks a formidable person to be considered in case the NDC wishes to satisfy them for political expediency? Or it could be the turn of Volta region to have its taste? Although, it is crucial to satisfy regional balance in the choice of running mate, the overriding interest of the NDC is for President Mahama to restore confidence of party members by nominating a very credible and appealing running mate for 2016 who could go on to win the 2020 elections for the party.
The major concern for most of the party members is whether President Mahama think about what is in the long-term interest of the NDC Party rather than his own immediate convenience in 2015/2016. So the time will come in 2016 when Mahama must also make a very difficult but necessary decision and most NDC members are praying that he will be equal to the task. And as a son of a Jakpa warrior, NDC trust in his courage and judgment to save the NDC from future election defeat.
Even so, the various interest groups in the party must give the President freedom to weigh in his options. The President has until June or July next year by which time the electoral commission will be requesting entry for Presidential candidates and their running mates. The President is therefore not to be bullied in prematurely naming his running mate at the party’s primaries.
The President, according to the NDC Constitution, must consult the Council of Elders of the Party, before announcing a running mate for 2016. However, in addition to this Constitutional requirement, the President will do well to keep his ears closely to the grounds as he travels around the country, and to seek the views of the rank and file as well, so that his decision is not restricted to a few party gurus in Accra, or even the Party’s NEC, where various power-brokers attempt to become kingmakers.
The NDC Constitution has now been democratized to give all members a chance to vote for their Presidential candidate. Maybe in future another Party Constitutional Review will require the President to submit the name of three nominees as potential Vice Presidents to be voted on during the primaries where he the President himself will be elected.
This may give the Presidential candidate at least a good idea off the expectations of the rank and file before he officially nominates his Vice Presidential running mate. Whether a vote on a Vice President should be binding on the President or not, or should simply be a straw vote could be considered by the NDC Constitutional Review Committee. This approach may prevent excessive lobbying which may distract the President’s attention.
For now, although most Ghanaians, especially NDC members have lost confidence in the Veep and do not at all think he can lead the NDC to win the 2020 elections, it is best for the President to continue to rule the country in peace with him until mid-2016 when, subject to the EC’s timetables, he shall have to submit his VP running mate’s name to the EC before ballot papers and other materials to be printed. Changing his VP too early as some die-hard ambitious people are plotting, will make the current Veep redundant too early and lead to difficulties in general governance.
Meanwhile, the Veep too, who knows his own weaknesses and lack of self-confidence, can look himself in a mirror and boldly tell Ghanaians that he has no desire to continue in office after 2016, thereby taking an unnecessary weight of the President’s shoulders.
Alhaji Idrissu Mohammed (Convener)
Social Democratic Network