The defeat of President John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Congress in last December elections has destabilized plans by some presidential hopefuls of the now biggest opposition party nursing ambition to step into the shoes of the former President for the 2020 elections if he had secured his second term bid, The aL-hAJJ has gathered.
As many as 25 NDC kingpins, this paper reported late last year, had started preparing grounds for the eventual ascension to the flag bearer post after Mr. Mahama had finished his eight year term.
These NDC stalwarts, mainly former Ministers, former Chief Executive of State Institutions, party kingpins and appointees of the erstwhile Mahama government were convinced the 2016 election would be walk over for former President Mahama.
Former Ministers of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah; Employment and Labor Relations, Haruna Iddrisu; Roads and Highways; Inusah Fuseini; Education, Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang; Foreign Affairs, Hannah Serwah Tetteh; Trade and Industry; Dr Ekow Spio Gabrah; Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, former Minister of State and Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations, were all reported interested in leading the NDC into the 2024 election.
Others reported to be interested in leading the party after Mr Mahama’s eight years included former Ministers of Youth and Sports, Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuije; Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur; former Brong Ahafo Minister, Eric Opoku; former Central Regional Minister; Kwaku Rickett Hagan; former Minister of State at the presidency, Rashid Pelpuo; and former majority leader and now 2nd deputy Speaker of Parliament; Alban Kingsford Sumane Bagbin.
The likes of immediate past Senior Policy Adviser and Head of Presidential Delivery Unit, Dr Valerie Sawyer; former MP for La Dadekotopon, Nii Amasah Namoale; former Chief Executives of NHIA, Sylvester Mensah; COCOBOD’s Dr Stephen Opuni; Eco Medical Village’s, Dzifa Aku Ativor; former KMA boss, Kojo Bonsu; 1st vice Chairman of NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo; former Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia; MP for Klottey Korle; Dr Zanetor Rawlings; Anlo MP; Clement Kofi Humado and former vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur were also reported interested in the post.
However, intelligence gathered by The aL-hAJJ indicate that following the NDC’s abysmal performance in last year’s polls, many of these hitherto flamboyant flag bearer hopefuls are being compelled to chicken-out in what would have been a rehash of “2007 NPP-like” flag bearer contest.
Though the 13 member committee constituted by the NDC to investigate the cause(s) of the party’s defeat in the December 7 polls is yet to begin work to determine the future direction of the party, some of the 25 flag bearer hopefuls are reported to have willingly given up on their ambitions.
Stunned activists of the party this paper’s intelligence reveal, have subsequently been forced to go back to the drawing board to “agree” on a suitable candidate for the 2020 presidential election.
There is deep rift among kingpins and supporters of the NDC as to what ex-President Mahama’s resounding loss means for the party; whether the party should field the ‘one term’ President for the 2020 elections or put their trust in a new candidate with hopes of securing victory in the nearest future?
Others are however kicking against the former President’s comeback. Leading the “operation reject Mahama for 2020” is failed NDC parliamentary aspirant for Bawku Central, Alhaji Ibrahim Adamu Dori, and former NDC MP for Lower Manya Krobo, Michael Teye Nyaunu.
According to Alhaji Dori considering the magnitude of defeat the NDC suffered in the hands of the NPP at the just ended elections, the leadership of the party must not make any “move of imposing any candidate on the rank and file of the party.”
The controversial former Member of Parliament for Lower Manya Krobo has squarely blamed the leadership of the National Democratic Congress for its failure to avert President Mahama’s defeat, which it had knowledge of, at least a year before it manifested.
“We could see the defeat staring us in the face but we ignored it,” he told TV3 Midday Live on Monday.
“The seed for the defeat was sowed during the primaries – both presidential and parliamentary [last year],” he clarified. Explaining further, Mr. Teye Nyaunu blamed the party executive for its calculated efforts that muscled out a number of potential presidential candidates in the party.
“All machineries were set towards that,” a situation he described as “unfortunate”. He believed competition would have “brought the best out of” Mahama.
He was however not so convinced that President Mahama was the party’s best choice for the December elections.
“Until you make comparison you cannot say he is the best,” he asserted. Teye Nyaunu was also sure that how the party organized its parliamentary primaries contributed to the party’s defeat.
On his part, the Dean of Graduate Studies at the Institute of Local Government Studies, Dr Eric Oduro-Osae has also called on former President Mahama not to contest the 2020 elections even though it is his constitutional right to contest for another four years.
“If I have the opportunity of advising him (Mahama), I will advise him to bow out. I will advise him that now that the applause is loudest, I’ll advise him that at this point in time you’ve served your tenure for four years. Although the constitution allows [him] to come in for another four years, in his own interest and for his own integrity and for the purpose of consolidating the gains he has made as far as adding on to the democratic development of this country, he should just bow out and allow the NDC to look for another candidate,” he stated on Class Fm.
But many party bigwigs, mainly appointees of the erstwhile Mahama administration and their supporters have been persistent with their call on the Bole-born-Communication specialist now turned-former-President to make a comeback in 2020.
Their reason is simple; Mr Mahama has achieved so much during his stewardship that it will be a disservice to the NDC and the country if he decides not to run for the presidency in 2020 because of the outcome of last year’s presidential election.
But the immediate family of the former President has kicked against these requests by admirers of Mr Mahama to lead the biggest opposition party into the 2020 elections.
Mr Ibrahim Mahama, younger brother of the former President Mahama, told senior journalist in an exclusive interview that the Mahama family has prevailed on the immediate past President not to contest.
“John has given his all in politics and we think it is just fair that we allow him to rest. We were very supportive and instrumental in convincing him to partner late Prof Mills, and when the time came for him to contest President, we supported him and advised him to go for it…now we have again advised him not to make a comeback in 2020,” the Chief of Engineers and Planners noted.
With official confirmation from the immediate family of Mr Mahama that he will not lead the party into the 2020 elections, other kingpins of the NDC nursing ambition to lead the party have started using surrogates and assign to start preparing grounds for their 2020 presidential dream. Names of possible successors to the former President have started filling the media landscape.
Some prominent names currently on the lips of the NDC family and doing the rounds on condition; Mr Mahama indeed decides not to contest the next presidential election include former Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Ekow Spio Gabrah; former Executive Director of National Health Insurance Authority, Mr Sylvester Mensah, and immediate past Communications Minister, Dr Edward Omane Boamah.
Others are immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, and former flag bearer of the Reform Party, Mr Goozie Augustus Obuadum Tanoh, defeated MP for Awutu Senya West and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Serwah Tetteh.
However the name of former Chief of Staff of the erstwhile NDC administration, Mr Julius Debrah, according to The aL-hAJJ’s intelligence, seems to be more pronounced amongst NDC power brokers and within the rank and file of the party.
Perhaps, Mr Debrah, who has maintained a low profile as far as early scramble on who leads NDC in 2020 is concerned, is still looking up to his boss, Mr Mahama, as to whether he will make a comeback or not before he starts flying the kite on is ambition to lead the reorganization process of the NDC and to eventually; lead it into the next presidential election.
Though immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Doe Adjaho is said to be more favored in terms of experience and qualification, The aL-hAJJ has gathered that an “unwritten NDC convention” that allows for rotational regional representation may damper his chances.
Mr Doe Adjaho, an accomplished legal practitioner and veteran legislator, according to sources, is presently the “face” of Volta region so far as representation in the top echelon of the NDC is concerned. Some have argued that in order to appease the NDC’s World Bank, Mr Adjaho should be selected as the party’s next flag bearer.
But a reliable source close to NDC power brokers told this paper that “Rt Hon Doe Adjaho comes from the NDC’s first president and party founder, Jerry John Rawlings’ region of Volta, after which we had Mills from Central and then John Mahama from the North so it’s now the turn of other Akan regions and Gas.”
“We in the NDC have an unwritten convention on regionalization of our leaders so now, it is the turn of the Akan regions of Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions, and Greater Accra region,” a respected NDC elder who does not want his name mentioned disclosed.
This regional rotation convention and other reasons appear to have closed the chapter on NDC flag bearer hopefuls from Volta, Central and Northern region. This, among other reasons, could probably impede Mr Goozie Tanoh and Hannah Tetteh’s attempt to lead the NDC into the 2020 elections.
Mr Tanoh, though has not officially announced his 2020 bid; was rumored to be interested in the NDC topmost job when he made a “sudden” appearance at the 35th Anniversary of the 31st December Revolution recently.
His address, which was centered on reorganization of the NDC, has been interpreted as a “red carpet” laying ceremony to announce his presidential ambition.
The legal practitioner and PNDC capo broke ranks with the NDC ahead of selection of presidential candidate for the 2000 after Mr Rawlings, then outgoing president, favored Prof John Evans Atta Mills for the post over the cadre who had worked closely with the former military leader and had been highly tipped for the position.
He was thought to be enjoying support of Mr Rawlings for the 2020 post after he spoke at the ceremony, however, the NDC founder’s office, in a sharp statement said Mr Rawlings “wishes to inform the general public that the 35th anniversary event held at the Revolution Square last Saturday was not an avenue to promote any individual’s political ambition or agenda. The head of the anniversary planning committee for the June 4 and 31st December events has since been asked to step down. A new head will be announced after consultations with cadres and other planning committee members.”
Mr Tanoh, though cut for the job, may not find favor with the rank and file of the NDC if he decides to contest the flag bearer post giving his long absence on the political scheme and issues of loyalty and betrayal hanging around his neck.
Dr Ekow Spio Gabrah, who has been angling to lead the NDC for over a decade now, have had his name been bandied in the media by his loyalists for the next flag bearer post of the party. The Former Trade and Industry Minister, has an impeccable record in governance and the telecommunication sector.
He has made two unsuccessful attempts at leading the now biggest opposition party. Some see him as the ideal successor to former President Mahama but he seems not to have the support of NDC “kingmakers” and the grassroots.
His contest with late Prof Mills and aborted attempt to contest the late tax Professor in the 2011 Sunyani Congress for the flag bearer post may have courted so much hatred for him especially, from his own native region, Central. Dr Gabrah’s bid is also at variance with NDC’s unwritten regional rotation pact because of his Fante background.
Like Mr Tanoh and Dr Spio Gabrah, the immediate past MP for Awutu Senya West, Hannah Tetteh, may also not be considered for the post because of this pact. Moreover, her humiliating defeat at the polls has also dealt a heavy blow to her possible flag bearer bid.
Madam Hannah Tetteh has long been rumored to be interested in the flag bearer post. When ex-president Mahama was elected to lead the NDC into the 2016 election, she was rumored to be one of the persons penciled for the running mate post. However, she missed out on it.
Her surrogates have also had running battles with former vice President Amissah Arthur’s devotees over the former’s surreptitious moves to upstage the latter for the number two post and eventual flag bearer bid.
Mr Amissah Arthur himself was also thought to be interested in leading the NDC after his boss but, giving the abysmal performance of the party particularly, in the Central region among other factors; his dream may not materialize.
Perhaps, the only NDC stalwarts whose name has come up for the post and who is favored by almost all the permutations is Mr Julius Debrah. The meteoric rise of Mr Debrah to the position of Chief of Staff after serving as Regional Minister of Eastern and Greater Accra Regions, and Local Government Minister and how he distinguished himself in all these portfolios consolidates calls for his bid.
The former Chief of Staff is liked by rank and file of the NDC, party bigwigs and almost all the supposed factions in the opposition party. The only blot on his likely ascension to the NDC’s topmost post is that he hails from the same region as President Nana Akufo-Addo, and Dr Omane Boamah, another strong contender for the NDC flag bearer post.
The immediate past Communications Minister is one of the appointees of the NDC government thought to be former President Mahama’s heir. His admirers believe the ex-president will shepherd him to assume the flag bearer post.
Dr Boamah, who turned 41 last year December, though has remained tightlipped on his ambitions following the NDC’s defeat, has been berated by some NDC supporters as being one of the persons who caused Mr Mahama’s defeat.
His hitherto admirable personality among NDC members has since plummet, making a likely flag bearer bid implausible.
Following closely to NDC bigwigs favored by the internal arrangements of the party is former Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Sylvester Mensah. His “dual native” background as Ewe and Ga is feeding into the narrative that NDC must consider their World Bank when considering who leads the party. But Mr Mensah appears not to be the favorite of bankrollers of the party