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Opinions of Friday, 14 August 2020

Columnist: Mohammed Rabiu Adam

NDC political strategy with Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as running mate

NDC 2020 Running Mate Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyamang NDC 2020 Running Mate Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyamang

The pronouncement of Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyamang as the running mate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama invigorated the political euphoria towards the December election.

The announcement catapulted another milestone in the country’s democratic dispensation. The pronouncement as usual presented multi-paradigm for political discourse. Her outdooring also witnessed professorial language expertise touch on the Queen’s tongue.

Those for the course started touting the credentials of the language professor. On the other hand, it tilted the spines of the other political competitors particularly the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as they quickly start for combing for weakness for campaign strategy.

The third force were the political watchers who have been advocating for women advancement and empowerment in the political space. Further, the last group have all these while argued that involvement of women at the echelon of decision-making would inure to the benefit of the social protection class in the country.

It is important to acknowledge that Professor Naana is not the first woman to be appointed to occupy the enviable position leading to general election especially in this fourth republic status of Ghana’s political history. It worthy to point out for the purpose of this generation to know that in electioneering activities leading to 1996 general election, the People’s Convention Party (PNP) led by Edward Mahama appointed Adeline Dedo Nartey as running mate.

In 2000 election, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) had Petra Amegahie as running mate to late Dan Lartey. In 2008, Patricia Ameku became the running mate of Emmanuel Ansah Antwi of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP).

Further, Helen Sanorita Dzatugbe Matervi partnered Hassan Ayariga of People’s Convention (PNC) in 2012. The Convention People’s Party (CPP) also had Nana Akosua Frimpomaa-Sarpong II as running mate to Dr Abu Sakara in 2012. Again, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom appointed the late Eva Naa Merley Lokko for People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in 2012 general election. In 2016, Ghanaians witnessed Brigitte Dzogbenuku to partner Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom on PPP ticket.

The decision of the NDC to appoint a woman as running mate towards the December 2020 general elections who will possibly occupy the second seat of government present multiple avenues for interrogations. The involvement of women in political decision making to a large extent has experience a sharp marginalisation. Although, juxtaposing women political office occupation in order of merit of hierarchy as far as Ghana constitution is concerned, the former president John Agyekum Kuffour deserved commendation for appointing the former Chief Justice, Her Lordship Justice Theodora Georgina Wood as the first woman to have occupied the fourth highest seat in Ghana. Undoubtedly, the judiciary scenario posed a challenge to then ruling president, the late Professor Evans Fiifi Atta Mills thereby or might have influenced the appointment of Right Honourable Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo as the Speaker of the Parliament. From that moment, the political watchers have been monitoring the political appointment landscape on how the two major parties (NPP and NDC) will create the special avenue for women involvement in political decision-making.

With all the euphoria, pomp and pageantry attached to the appointment of Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, one would want to find out what might have influence John Dramani Mahama and the NDC to appoint a woman and no less other person but Prof Naana? What are these political marketing competence-indicators that she might be adding to the ticket of John Dramani Mahama? Does her credentials in the academia and public service nullify the numerical strength of the NPP running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia?

The following are the five (5) political strategies the NDC and John Dramani Mahama might have considered towards the December 2020 election;
Firstly, you do not have to grant your opponent the opportunity to score a point; Ghanaians across the various political parties have witnessed how Dr Mahamudu Bawumia touted his economic credential from 2008 until Ghanaians trusted the power into the hands of NPP. The Vice President always mesmerise the media with figures as far as economic indicators are concerned regardless of how factual those figures are or not. Once Dr Bawumia mount his economic lectures then the economic management team of the ruling party then become restless. The economic state of the country have been a major factor in all the elections conducted from 1991 till date. However and in sharp contrast to the numerous lecturers and realities, the NDC might have decided not give the ruling party the opportunity to throw dust into the eyes of the public. It also implies that if the NPP truly believed that they are really on top of the management of the economy then they should go and mount the podium and account to the people what they have achieved and probably not they (NDC) saying for the Vice President to jump into playing with figures unethically.

Secondly, leave the status quo and set a new order; it could be said that the abysmal performance of the ruling government on the management of the economy where the Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is a key figure probably informed the NDC to harbour the view that, let them (NPP) bath in that state of the flood alone. Again, NDC might have study the political terrain to realise that there may be a variation in factors the electorates will be looking for in deciding which party to vote for. The norm of vice president must be an economist is taking a new paradigm shift. The agenda of inclusiveness is gradually gaining ground with Joe Biden appointing Kamala as his running mate for the Democrats in USA. Hon. Inusah Fuseini, Member of Parliament for Tamale Central constituency is on record to have said that the NDC will never use Dr Bawumia as litmus to the choice of their running mate. The NDC have clearly set in motion an agenda of inclusiveness. The NDC is probably with the view that one must not necessarily be an economist before leading the country’s economic management team.

Thirdly, play your own music and dance to it for if your opponent can let them remove their dancing shoes; the appointment of professor Naana by the NDC to partner the former president John Mahama appears to set a new stage for a showdown in Ghana’s political space. This is a woman who is considered by her peers at the University of Cape Coast to be someone with impeccable records in the academia and public service. As a first and former Vice Chancellor of university that could be described as state on its own, present plethora of opportunities for the NDC to leverage on for the pending general elections. Again as a woman, where women inclusion at the echelon of governance have become subject of discussion globally, implies that the NDC wants to play gender and all-inclusiveness card. Professor Naana is someone with academia background if not above then equal in proportion to that of her main opponent, NPP. Women are more than men in Ghana’s population records and again with the just ended 2020 general elections voter registration analysis presented by the electoral commission chairperson. Clearly the NDC is has set its own agenda into December general elections.

Fourthly, diffuse your opponent campaign trump card or mantra with tangible deliverables; the NPP came into the 2016 general elections with countless campaign promises which the then ruling NDC government doubted and further they read impracticability in implementing some of the promises. So soon, the Free Senior High School (FSHS) has rather became a key political-searching tool for the NPP. The Free Senior High School implementation have witnessed dramatic increased in the enrolment at our second cycle education level. Certainly, the NPP will want to leverage on the successful FSHS to their journey in retaining power come December elections. Contrarily to that, the NDC sees the appointment of an educationist who has seen it all in that sector implies that they want to deflate the achievement mantra of the Nana Addo led government for a second term in office. Further, professor Naana as Education Minister who supervised the upgrading of the Polytechnics into fully-fledged Universities and other achievements would want to meet the NPP head on. The NDC again will want to advance such debate as being the government to have upgraded the Colleges of Education into tertiary status and not forgetting the Community Day Senior High Schools it constructed before booted out of power.

Fifthly, never use your opponent are indicator or measure to achieve a goal; the choice of Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyamang and taking one step backwards on media political discourse, it is clear the NDC was never going to use someone with Dr Bawumia credentials as benchmark for selecting their running mate. Key personalities in the NDC have made countless statements to that effect. Alex Segbefia, a former Minister of Health and a member of the opposition NDC campaign team is on record to have said, “we would be looking at a different type of animal and we have to move from that type of politics”. Again, Inusah Fuseini, a former Minister of Roads and Highways also stated that “if NDC had only Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia kind of people to choose a vice from, we will go to parliament and amend the law so the President will run without a vice”. According to A. B. A. Fuseini “God forbid! When you mention Bawumia, even schoolchildren know he is about to lie. He has negative image and everyone knows that. The NDC must bring somebody who when he gets up to speak Ghanaians will give him decorum and respect. Look at Bawumia, anytime he gets up to speak everybody says he is going to lie again…we want everything to settle before we do that. But for Bawumia, this is not the kind of running mate the NDC will be looking for, God forbid.”

In conclusion, the NDC seems to have a learnt a lesson about how as party in government conducted itself that led to the President Mahama receiving some political punches leading to bruises on his image. The appearance of woman with pedigree will help them restore the defaced images towards the December general elections. The ruling NPP could not be said to be novice in political strategies as they have won general elections and as incumbent government, they know the way out of the storm. These scenarios does not necessarily implied a vivid presentation of the NDC as political party mind but expression of an opinion by the author.