Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur
Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur

As the ruling National Democratic Congress, NDC, gets set for its primaries in November this year, one issue that has engaged the attention of political pundits and party insiders is that of President John Dramani Mahama?s running mate in the 2016 elections.

For a party that has set a precedent of promoting its vice presidents to the position of the automatic presidential candidate, the 2016 election however presents a different scenario altogether.

It must be remembered that late President John Evans Atta Mills was the vice president to President Jerry John Rawlings between 1996 and 2000 and went on to become the presidential candidate for the party in the 2000 elections. Unfortunately he lost to the opposition New Patriotic Party, NPP?s then candidate John Agyekum Kufuor in that epochal election in December 2000 election even when it went into a run-off. However the NDC never gave up on Mills as he was fielded again in 2004 but unfortunately lost to the same man in the elections.

In the 2008 elections, the party still retained Mills though there were others also interested in becoming the first gentleman of the land. Mills went on to win the primaries and eventually the elections. Unfortunately he could not complete his four year term as he died in office with about four months to the election. His vice, Mahama automatically became the president as stipulated in the 1992 constitution.

With the untimely death of Mills, Mahama became the presidential candidate though not without a challenge from some party stalwarts most especially Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, wife of former President Rawlings who having lost her bid to be the flagbearer went on to create her own political party to contest the 2012 elections. Her ambition was however short circuited as she could not fulfill the electoral requirements and was therefore disqualified from contesting. Mahama subsequently won the elections against a veteran politician Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo in an election that many did not give the incumbent president a dog?s chance.

With another election due in December 2016, poll watchers are wondering if Mahama will retain vice president Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur as his running mate. It must be remembered that the demise of Mills gave a free hand to Mahama to nominate his vice as he did not have to go through the rigors of campaigning for the position of being the vice as the constitution foresaw some of these problems. Amissah-Arthur only had to go through a parliamentary vetting process to occupy that exalted position.

Unlike other political parties who throw the position of presidential candidate open for anyone interested in being the big Kahuna, the NDC has within its formation in the early 1990s established the format that being a vice president automatically promotes you to aspire to be the presidential candidate. This has been amply demonstrated with Mills and Mahama as each one has been a vice before becoming president.

The 2016 election however is presenting a different scenario as factors that prevailed when Rawlings was in power do not apply at the moment. This has led to the wide and wild speculations that come next year Amissah-Arthur?s name will be missing from the posters as Mahama will definitely choose a new running mate.

Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur
Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur

According to NDC insiders, there is the need to replace the current vice with a new face as there are so many factors that are working against him, the most prominent being his age and relevance in the coming election. As far as party leaders are concerned the vice, though an astute economist with working experience in the banking sector where he ended up as the governor of the central bank, Bank of Ghana, BoG, has an imperfection as far as electoral politics is concerned.

Though he might be an economist and chairman of the economics management team, the party?s hierarchy does not see him as a grassroots person and might become a liability when Mahama?s term expires in 2020 as the party leadership believes the incumbent will retain the presidency in the 2016 elections. Their fears are built on the fact that he is not a crowd pulling politician with the ability to move the crowds when on a political rally platform.

This has therefore placed the party in a conundrum as there is so much at stake in the coming election more so as the biggest opposition party is engulfed in its own internal wrangling. There is therefore so much agitation in the NDC hierarchy to replace the current vice for a younger and more dynamic person as far as rhetorical platform politics is concerned.

President Mahama has however been very quiet on this matter as his vice was the one who picked up the nomination papers as he makes a second bid to contest the seat on the ticket of the NDC. According to analysts, that decision to allow the vice president to collect the nomination form for the president revealed the deep respect the president has in Amissah-Arthur.

However there is immense pressure on Mahama to change him for a younger person who has the vibrancy and grassroots appeal to carry the social democratic agenda further and the ability to contest in 2020.

On the blind side of the over four million voters who have consistently ensured that the NDC remains in power, the agitators are calling for a new face who should take the consistency agenda further.

Many names have been pulled from the hat as possible running mates for Mahama. These names include that of current Minister of Trade and Industries, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Foreign Affairs Minister and also a Member of Parliament for Ewutu-Senya West Ms. Hannah Serwa Tetteh and Augustus Goosie Tanoh. Each of these gentlemen and lady all come with their pluses with the dial tilted heavily in Tanoh?s direction. What the party insiders are seriously thinking about is someone who has strong links to the grassroots where the NDC draws its strength from.

Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah

In Spio-Gabrah, they can see a strong person who has the capability to work the crowd at any outdoor political rally, an essentiality in political campaigning. However what stand against him is the diatribes he launched against then President Mills describing first set of appointed ministers as ?Team B? players and they therefore must be changed. At that time, Spio-Garbrah, with a vast experience not only in politics but in the international arena as well having worked with the African Development Bank, AfDB, among others and later as ambassador was seen as gatecrashing himself into the corridors of power. Though eventually he got a ministerial appointment, those comments have not gone down well with many in the party who see him as a renegade who must be watched closely as some even view him suspiciously on the basis of his alleged chummy-chummy relationship with Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings who has also not given up her own inordinate presidential ambitions.

Another set of party supporters also see the Trade Minister as haughty as against the calm demeanor of Mahama who they see as very approachable and down to earth, a posture that the NDC leadership since the party?s formation has adopted to endear itself to the rural voters where the party draws its greatest strength from.

Others however feel that though Spio-Garbrah is a charming person, his outlook is directly opposite that of Mahama who has the Mills touch of being on the same page with the common people who have consistently voted for the party in its pursuit of fulfilling its social democratic manifesto agenda which tends to favour the rural majority especially in the provision of social amenities.

They therefore feel bringing the trade minister as Mahama?s running mate might overshadow the president and create a conflict of interest situation in government as the party leadership recounts the acrimonious relationship that existed between Rawlings and his one-time vice president John Ackaah, now late.

Hannah Serwa Tetteh
Hannah Serwa Tetteh

The Awutu-Senya West MP, Tetteh has everything going for her having been a parliamentarian who once lost her seat and came back to win it again. In addition, she was the campaign manager for Mills and everyone thought she would have ended up as chief of staff in the Mills Administration which unfortunately she did not get but has acquitted herself first as trade minister but currently is the foreign affairs minister, a job she has done to the admiration of all.

But is Ghana ready for a female president a question the party hawks have pondered over as 2016 draws closer.

A lawyer by profession who has also worked in the private sector and therefore understands the inner workings of industry and therefore in a position to court them to follow the government?s agenda of making the private sector the engine of growth. Despite her closeness to Mahama, she still has an uphill task to convince the party?s followers that Ghana is ready for a female president in 2020 as she stands the chance of being the presidential candidate in that year.

The fact that she has filed to contest the primaries in retaining her parliamentary seat is an indication that she is not interested in being the next in line after Mahama though she can change her mind and relinquish that ambition before 2016 when parliamentarians and those interested in the top job are expected to file and seek the people?s mandate.

However, there is a name which the party hierarchy has been quiet about, that name is only mentioned in the dark corners knowing that he has a huge following and the exact pedigree that the party needs to retain the presidency even after 2016.

Some however view him with suspicion though his haters will immediately affirm that he has the expertise and experience and enough grassroots support that can elongate the NDC?s grip on power.

They also accuse him of once abandoning the party to seek his personal interests which though could not be fulfilled also led to the failure of the party to cling to powerin 2009. His name is Augustus ?Goosie? Tanoh and is well known to all as Goosie who is generally referred to as one of Ghana?s most prominent lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata?s boys; don?t mind that he is not a boy but a man who has proved his mettle.

Interestingly, he was taught by Tsikata in the law school and went on to work with him in the GNPC.

To remind all, he is a trained lawyer with both local and international experience especially in the oil and gas sector having worked with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC, the country?s third-largest company, which imported, refined on a tolling basis and distributed on a wholesale basis all petroleum products entering the country. He also played an important part in planning and executing government?s strategy for its oil exploration activities as he was the contract and principal tax negotiator for Petroleum Exploration Agreements with companies such as Amoco, Shell, Atlantic Richfield, and Unocal.

While at GNPC he supervised the corporation?s pioneering efforts to provide affordable public housing to its employees, using local material inputs, the project worth $26m was successfully completed resulting in 95% of the 1200 units being now in the ownership of the corporation?s employees.

Goosie was also part of the team that negotiated Ghana?s first syndicated loans: one for US$75 million in 1991 with Bankers Trust, and subsequently with ANZ Bank for US$110 million in 1992, with the proceeds of both loans going to GNPC going on to be a front-seat participant in the evolution of banking services in the West African region by virtue of his stint as director of the West African-owned bank ECOBANK Ghana Ltd. (1990-1992).

In public service, Mr. Tanoh has served as special assistant to the then Chairman of the PNDC, Rawlings and was appointed to the National Defence Committee where he was in charge of projects and programs working with worker and community organizations with a membership in excess of 2million activists.

Between 1986 and 1989, he was nominated as Alternate Leader of the Ghana delegation to the United Nations Security Council and the UN General Assembly and as Ghana?s principal negotiator and a spokesperson for the Group of 77 on the Mining Code for the Law of the Sea.? He has also participated in the Group of Experts Meeting preparatory to the World Environment Conference (Brazil) organized by the Aspen Institute in Colorado, USA.

When Ghanaians clamored for constitutional rule Mr. Tanoh became a member of the Consultative Assembly that drafted the 1992 Constitution as one of the representatives of the grassroots based Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, CDR.

As someone in touch with the grassroots, Mr. Tanoh was appointed chairman for the Forum For Sustainable Development which ultimately contributed to the formation and ultimate victory of the NDC in the 1992 and 1996 elections serving as the party?s secretary of the campaign committee for the victorious 1992 election.

However in 2000 he left the party and with other disaffected members formed the National Reform Party, NRP, and stood as their presidential candidate but lost.

As a business person, Goosie pioneered the export of cassava chips to Europe between 1994 and 2000. He never gave up and is distinguished as being among two Ghanaian companies that pioneered the export of groundnuts to the European market achieving total sales aggregated in excess of US$3.5 million.

For now he is the executive chairman of HML Marine, Power & Energy Limitedenergy advisory Group and also a Director of Saltpond Offshore Producing Company, SOPC, and Volta Aluminum Company Ltd. (VALCO).

In addition he is a founding member, and executive vice president of Organic Potash Corporation which is listed on the Canadian National Stock Exchange(CNSX) and Country Head of its subsidiary in Ghana known as GC Resources Limited a company engaged in the pioneering role of converting cocoa pod to industrial grade potassium carbonate for export using technology invented by a prominent Ghanaian scientist and engineer Dr Martin Woode.

What many have forgotten is that the controversy and inner workings of the NDC that forced Goosie and co including Kyeretwie Opoku, Peter Kpordugbe out of the party to form their own have been resolved as one of the principles they stood for was democratization of the NDC which meant the party chairman becomes the leader when in opposition but when there is a flagbearer the latter automatically heads the party. These have been accepted. Late president Mills having understood their position especially in the light of the Swedru Declaration whereby Rawlings unanimously chose Mills to be his successor have been achieved. This meant that everyone who aspires to be the presidential candidate must go through the primaries which determines the popularity of the candidate and ensures that the acrimony and backbiting which has afflicted the opposition parties does not affect the NDC. That is how far he could see into the future and that stance has created the present college electoral system which says that ordinary card carrying members of the party must have a say in the nomination of both members of parliament and the president to prevent the usual ?I?m going independent? that has been the bane of the various political parties.

With deep roots in the party?s formation, will Goosie be on the ballot paper with Mahama come next year. Only John Dramani Mahama can tell who partners him though our sources say Goosie is the one since age and his association with the formation of the party are great pluses for him because with Mahama doing four more years, there should be someone young enough to take the mantle. What does Mahama say?

Source: Kafui Gale-Zoyiku || The Corporate Guardian

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