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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Columnist: Michael Sumaila Nlasia

John Mahama is the flagbearer of NDC: What’s next for the party?

Former President, John Mahama Former President, John Mahama

In the famous words of Charles de Gaulle, a former French army officer and statesman who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II, “France has lost the battle. But France has not lost the war.”

The understanding of this quip is that you can only win a battle but not the war; in that, war is a composite of endless battles which will be fought at different forms and phases.

Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of delegates and supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) across the length and breadth of the country gave an overwhelming endorsement to former President John Dramani Mahama as the flagbearer of the NDC.

Mahama's victory demonstrates the desire of members of the party for victory in the 2020 elections.

Political party’s decision making is more than just the story of a particular party’s policy of organizing elections to elect a flagbearer; it is about the aspirations of the party, and who better speaks to the aspiration than the party faithful?

John Mahama polled a whopping 213, 487 votes representing 95.23% of the total votes cast to beat the six other contestants to lead the NDC to victory in the 2020 elections.

So, the next battle for him is to win the 2020 general elections; but following the outcome of the presidential primaries, what are some of the things which ought to be done to consolidate the victory of the NDC in the 2020 elections?


In the 2016 general elections, only 49% of eligible voters turned out to vote. This was the lowest since Ghana returned to multi-party democracy when its first election was held in 1992. The NDC votes decreased by 861, 484 votes from the previous 2012 elections while the NPP had an increase of 467, 128 votes. By this, it should mean that there was also a low turnout in certain jurisdictions or strongholds of the party.

Despite that, the massive turnout in the presidential primaries is an indication that the grassroots is alive; and it also means that the apathy that characterized the party in the last general election is on its way of being cured. Candidate John Dramani Mahama must now by the experience garnered in a painful way re-strategize and formulate effective new ideas to counter what resulted in the apathy.

Chairman Mao Zedong, his advise to his party leaders in gaining the confidence and trust of the people was that they should go to the people, talk to them, live with them, eat with them and know their sufferings. This approach by the leadership of the NDC will not fall short of regaining the people’s mandate. By that, you sustain the momentum generated from the presidential primaries and you are equipped with experiences and essential firsthand information needed to defeat the apathy.


The party needs to build a strong network of information gathering. The party cannot depend on what is said on the cabal mainstream media and what people are saying on the streets for their actions. The party must be a step ahead in gathering information from what is on the ground as the bases for their actions. In a situation like that, the party will never be overwhelmed with what is going on the grounds.

Never say to yourself that I am right without empirically verifying and implementing what you have as information. If you do that then you become a candidate for doom or failure.

The information from the grassroots is a felt need of the masses of the people. The people may not have access to the mass media, and may not be able to formulate their needs in words but it is gnawing at them. It has been observed that of all the 7 aspirants, John Mahama’s outreach during his campaign tour covered all the 275 constituencies exhaustively. The outcome was what manifested in the results of the presidential primaries.


From the results of the election, a total number of 1,796 ballots papers were rejected as spoilt ballots. If any of the other six losing candidates had gotten these votes counted, at least, it could have been a boast for him.

It is obvious that so far as the votes are ballots, not electronic, there would be spoilt ballots - but the number should not be this excessive. It is very disturbing that those who took part in the election allegedly made up of a selected few who are experienced and knowledgeable in electoral rules could make such a mistake in voting.

These people are supposed to educate the rank and file on how to cast votes. So if the fundamentals are weak, should the party expect satisfying results in the 2020 elections? Clearly, the party would have lost a huge number of votes if it was a general election.

I believe the party should as a matter of urgency institute a special voter educational program by holding branch meetings in all constituencies and educating members on how to cast their ballots because this presidential primary is a rehearsal to the 2020 general elections.

The idea here is to end by saying that John Mahama as the flagbearer of the NDC is a credible and better alternative to Nana Akufo Addo. There is a stereotype saying that one should leave the stage when the applaud is loudest. This idea should fly in the face of truth. Thus, when people say that, it is when they admire you; but when you do that all because of your face saving interest, you are depriving the people what they need from you which would be likened to selfishness.

The overwhelming endorsement given to John Mahama is likened to John Major, a former British Prime Minister. At a time there was crisis in his party, and when the people gave him a resounding victory to lead the party to become the Prime Minister, he told his party, everybody must now shut up or shut up. That is how the victory of John Mahama means.

Another aspect of this is that John Mahama is a veteran, he is carrying the experience of previous battles. He knows what to do and what not to do. The NDC is going to battle with an experienced general.