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Opinions of Sunday, 29 July 2012

Columnist: Apenya, James Lumor


The loss to the people of Ghana, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and to the family of the late President, His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills, is immeasurable in human terms. The late president’s affability, sense of fairness, and intellectual prowess had never been in doubt. Indeed, he has been described by his close confidants, associates, colleagues, and even his fierce critics including the former president Jerry John Rawlings as one of the finest Ghana has seen in its 55-year journey as an independent country. May the departed president find peace with his maker and may his soul find an everlasting rest. To Ghanaians and family, let’s take consolation in the hope of the life hereafter, when the good Lord himself will reunite us in his bosom. John Evans Atta Mills, Fare thee well!!!

As I prepared to author this piece, I realized how unordinary the death of a president can be. Two important things happen simultaneously. First, we all, including his critics and adversaries mourn together. But even in this time of mourning, there is the realization that the affairs of the state cannot be left unattended. To this end, the constitution is unequivocal on finding a successor for the president within the shortest possible time. Second, the shift by the Vice-President to occupy the office of the president also creates a vacuum that needs to be filled within the shortest possible time. So as we mourn, potential candidates for the position of a Vice-President lobby and jostle each other for the new vacant post.

Names of possible candidates So far, the names of candidates making the rounds for the position of the Vice-President are: Miss Hannah Tetteh, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Dr. Kwesi Botchway, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, and Paul Victor Obeng (Alias P.V. Obeng). While some of these names could be swallowed with a pinch of salt, there is no gainsaying that they are the most notable names in the NDC inner circles currently worth considering. But each name come with its own strengths and weaknesses, considering the issues the NDC is entangled with at the moment and others that will emerge as the country inches toward the 2012 general elections – factionalism, mediocrity, ethnic electoral fortunes, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has a difficult task on his hands if he must heal the NDC and move it forward as one party to face the opposition New Patriotic Party in the 2012. Any chosen candidate must be seen as not only unifying the factions that have emerged within the party, but must be competent, skilled, resp

Miss Hannah Tetteh

Interestingly, The Minister of Trade and Industry, Miss Hannah Tetteh, would have been a strong candidate for this vacant position considering the NDC effort at empowering women at the highest levels of governance. That will bring the number of women at the topmost echelons of power to three – the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice, and supposedly a Vice-President.

But the choice of a Vice-President cannot be limited to simply promoting women representation in governance. Miss Hannah Tetteh has been a trade minister and has also manned some other portfolios of government in the past. The issue is much more of what she has done with those offices she manned in the recent political history of Ghana. The only major decision observers can put a finger on in recent times has been the move to ensure that foreign traders in Ghana should pay US$30, 000 to Ghana Government before they can have authorization to trade in Ghana, a decision that hasn’t been well received by Ghanaians.

There are also issues with her amorous relationship with the Vice-President dating back to the days when the NDC party was in opposition. It has been learnt that the current president, even when the NDC was in opposition in 2007, promised to make her his running mate when chosen as presidential candidate anytime along the line. Destiny has now bestowed on the current president what he might not have seen coming in these bizarre circumstances. The question is: would he honor his promise to his mistress?

As one political commentator Dr. Kpesah Whyte has also pointed out, the choice of a vice-president will determine whether the new leadership under John Dramani Mahama is ready to restore the party to its values and heal it wounds to make it stronger to face the NPP in the 2012. This decision can, therefore, not be based on amorous inclinations. After all, the moral permissiveness of the President will play full circle in the 2012 election and he would not want to add any baggage to an already sagging bag when it comes to issues of his moral uprightness with women.

Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi For Kwesi Ahwoi, the card doesn’t look bright at all. Out of 20 NDC foot soldiers and powerbrokers interviewed for this article, only two seems to suggest they would mind if he is chosen by the new president as his running mate. The rest of the 18 were quite emphatic that that will put the final nail into the coffin of the ruling party. As one interviewee put it, “we cannot stand by and watch these Ahwoi guys to destroy the NDC completely. It is their management of the late president that has created all this crisis situations for the party. They have credibility crisis in both the NDC and in Ghanaian politics in general. In fact, as the president is buried and the dust settles down, Ghanaians will face the issue of those who managed the president leading to his demise. Do you want these Ahwois whose credibility is shattered to still be anywhere near the castle?”

Based on the foregoing quote, obviously if John Mamaha intends to heal the NDC and prepare it for the 2012, then Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi is simply a no, no!!!

Mr. P.V. Obeng Mr. P.V. Obeng didn’t come up well as a good candidate either. P.V.s past as a presidential advisers continuous to be a huge baggage that will sink Mahama if he dares commit that blunder. In 1994, when Mr. Obeng was hauled before the Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for pillaging the state, it was then the party founder, Jerry John Rawlings who came to his aid by issue a White Paper to protect the man. The past has since refused to go away. Some top NDC guru, who wishes to remain anonymous for now, has even threatened to resigned from the party if his name even makes it to the list for consideration. This man, although antagonistic to the Rawlingses, seems to be thinking in a similar manner with the Rawlingses. Mr. P.V. Obeng is, therefore, a no, no, too!!!

Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah There is no doubt that Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah remains a strong candidate with credentials that will send the NPP tumbling. His record as a former minister of education, energy, and communication speaks for itself. His ability to repackage the Value Added Tax (VAT) and sold it to Ghanaians with a package including the GETFund, which now generates over US$1000 million speaks for itself. This has helped averted the funding crisis of tertiary education in Ghana, a situation that still plague a lot of African countries. His international exposure and his youthful demeanor are just a few of the accolades that he brings to the job. Beyond this, there is no doubt that he can rightly be seen as a man who will bridge the yawning gap that has developed at various levels of the party for the party to march on with a united front to overpower its opponent, the NPP.

Dr. Kwesi Botchway If it were five years ago when the NDC was confronted with this situation, Dr. Kwesi Botchway would have been the undisputed candidate for the job. Timing, they say is an important element in any political equation. There is no doubt that Kwesi by all standards qualifies to even be the president of Ghana, a position he once sought. But his time has really passed. He can only be assigned such roles as he was assigned by the late President Mills. He can only seat at the backbench and offer advice to John Mahama and whoever he decides to pick.

All in all, John Dramani Mahama has a difficult task of choosing a Vice-President in a party that has divided and his choice will make or break the NDC in the days ahead. We advise that he consults widely and ensure that the his judgment is not blurred by the shortsighted considerations. The NDC must be restored, strengthened, and unified by the choice he makes.

James Lumor Apenya, Accra