Statement: Running mate must bring out NDC’s national appeal

Politics of Thursday, 3 December 2015

Source: Mahama Vanguard Movement

In the past few days, there have been very intense lobbying and jockeying for the attention of H.E. President John Dramani Mahama, as the focus of attention within the National Democratic Congress (NDC) shifts onto the issue of a running mate. This is to be expected given the overwhelming endorsement President Mahama received during the recent NDC primaries.

The demand of the General Secretary of the party, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, on the President to name his running mate before the end of the year has further accentuated the clamour for the President’s attention.

We the members of the Mahama Vanguard Movement (MAVAMO) would continue to work to protect the interest of the President, and by extension the NDC Party, even in these times when emotive reasoning, ethnicism and personal interest have become pillars for argument about choosing a running mate. It is in this context that we would want to raise a few issues.

As staunch members of the NDC and avowed vanguards of the legacy of President Mahama, we are very much aware of the preference of Asiedu Nketia when it comes to the running mate. He has stated this consciously or unconsciously on many occasions. We see his demand on the President to name his running mate by the end of the year as an attempt to stampede the President into retaining the current Vice-President, who is Asideu Nketia’s choice.

We want the party to come out and confirm whether the demand on the President by Asiedu Nketia was a personal one or a demand agreed by the National or Functional Executive Committee of the NDC. No matter what the response might be, we consider the open lobbying by Asiedu Nketia and other members of the executive for the retention of Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur as uncalled for and having the potential to create divisions in the party, unless this call is a product of extensive consultation, which it is not!

Consequently, we will advise the national executives to keep their preferences to themselves and allow the President the required space to make his decision on this all-important issue.

We are persuaded that the choice of Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur in 2012 was the best for a certain epoch in the history of the party. That situation has changed and does not exist anymore. For the reason and purpose for which he was named the running mate, he has done what is expected of him and members of the party are grateful.

However, the battle ahead for the 2016 elections and beyond is not one for Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur. We had expected that he would have, by now, publicly stated his disinterest in partnering President Mahama for the 2016 elections.

This would have saved the party a lot of time and energy to prepare for the task ahead, but alas, NO! The Vice-President is actively involved in mobilising support to be named running mate again. Indeed, if his propaganda machinery will devote half the time, energy and resources they have committed to the running mate issue in responding to Dr. Bawumiah, the NDC would have been in a “cooler place” regarding election 2016.

It is important to point out that the NPP is still battling with the perception of being an Akan, nay Ashanti party. The NDC risks a similar perception challenge if we do not democratise opportunities for the other tribes to ascend to the leadership of the party. Without any disrespect to the Central Region, why should we always have somebody from there on the party’s presidential ticket since the formation of the party? From Veep Arkaah (92) to Veep Mills (96). We then had President Mills contesting the 2000 and 2004 elections, then President Mills (2008) and now Veep Amissah-Arthur? Are we not marginalising the other tribes by maintaining a Fante on every presidential ticket?

Besides, the 2016 elections is what we would like to call a ‘crossroads elections’ in the sense that it will be a major bridge between the end of the tenure of H.E. President Mahama and how the NDC positions itself for the political terrain beyond President Mahama. This requires a careful thought and approach to the issue of running mate.

One thing that distinguishes serious organisations from the rest – organisations that are able to sustain themselves in this world of turbulence – is their nimbleness when it comes to succession planning. The NDC has so far been exceptional in that. Indeed it is the failure of the NPP at succession planning which is driving all the current internal wrangling and massacres in the party. The NDC cannot fall for that and MAVAMO would not allow H.E. President Mahama to lead the NDC into that without caution.

We strongly believe that political attraction beyond 2016 should feature strongly in deciding on the running mate. The President’s horizon in picking his running mate should be beyond 2016. Don’t forget the NPP already has a well-marketed candidate waiting in the wings.

We cannot cut our noses to spite our face! It goes without saying that youth plus maturity must be non-negotiable in making this decision. It is also important to strengthen the grassroots structures of the party. Thus the roots of the choice for running mate in the party becomes critical. So does affinity with the grass root structures of the party and indeed the cadre corps.

Additionally, serious consideration ought to be given to the Greater Accra and Volta regions in choosing a running mate for the 2016 elections. We believe that this should be the turn of Greater Accra in particular but failing to produce a useful candidate, the Volta or Brong Ahafo may be considered. A candidate that appeals to both Greater Accra and Volta brings real value to the leadership ticket. It cannot always be the Central Region and the Central Region into 2016!

The running mate must add value to the ticket by his ability to mobilise for an effective campaign. Instead of being a tag-along, he should be able to effectively complement the President during the campaign. This was lacking in 2012 and must not be repeated.

We wish to conclude by stating that the Central Region has had more than its fair share of the NDC presidential ticket. They need no one to tell them to save the party from internal disaffection, unnecessary bickering, withdrawal and inertia by voluntarily opting out of the 2016 ticket. Serious consideration must be given to candidate from Greater Accra, Volta, or Brong Ahafo Regions to avoid tagging the NDC as Fante-Fante party. Ours is far more of a nationalist party than the NPP!

We must consider returning the party to its roots by selecting a running mate who has his feet fully set in the formation of the NDC but also young enough so that the party can keep its sights beyond the 2016 elections. Ours are thoughts to protect H.E. Excellency the President against all the attempts to create confusion about what he should be looking at in selecting a running mate. Let’s not be remembered by posterity as one who steered the party to a deed end and festering long-lasting hostile internal wranglings and disagreements. We will be failing in our duties as the Mahama Vanguard Movement if we do not provide such guidance for our very illustrious and admirable President.

Long live His Excellency President Mahama Long live the NDC Party Long live Ghana!

Patrick Ebo Arkoful