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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Columnist: Research Ghana

Re: Who succeeds Mahama ?

There have been several propositions made by NDC leadership, partisans, and even the media as to who succeeds President John Mahama for the 2020 elections with recent publications in the media suggesting five (5) potential flagbearers of the party come 2020. While it is normal to identify potential leadership chain especially in a political organization it turns to be more disastrous when such persons identified are not properly marketed ahead of time to achieve the appreciable public following required to win over the masses. It is this area of strategic planning that the NDC seemed to lack ideas and focus as there seems to be no plan to work on the development of such individuals. Several developed countries identify their leadership chain far ahead of time and consciously take steps to nurture, develop and prepare them for leadership, as part of Succession Planning. Until his election to the Presidency in 2009, Barrack Obama was identified by the Democrats after his splendid speech delivery at a Democratic Party National Convention as a Congressman following his distinctive work as the President of the Harvard Law Review. The Democratic Party prepared him for many years for the leadership of the United States of America., just as Hillary Clinton, after losing to Obama in the Democratic Party, was kept in the limelight to prepare her too to potentially take over from Obama. In other words, in many Western societies, party leadership is not simply left to chance, or to the wild selfish plans of specific potential candidates.
Back home in Ghana, the situation is meekest within the NDC with a yet to be identified successor to John Mahama. Interestingly, some names have again popped up recently in the media, but surprisingly excluding the more traditional potential successors of the President that have been in the minds of the Ghanaian public. Recent publications in the Al Hajj newspaper, peacefmonline and other media portals suggested names of the Vice President, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur; current Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah; Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni; Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah and Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Authority, Mr. Sylvester Mensah. In spite of the analysis made by the writer of this article titled “Who Succeds Mahama?” it will be an honest admission by many Ghanaians that amongst the list of potential flagbearers of the NDC for 2020 contained in the said publication, only Vice- President Kwesi Amissah Arthur meets the mark for consideration, based mainly on his current titular position. With respect to the competence and academic qualification of the rest of the potential candidates enlisted in the said publication, their popularity in the public domain is so low to even make a meaningful contest against Paa Kwesi Ndoum of the PPP. Names of Julius Debrah, Dr. Opuni, Sylvester Mensah, Omane Boamah, could join the likes of Haruna Idrissu for consideration for the running-mate to any of the major contenders. One will wonder why the said publication sought to leave out the major contenders such as Hannah Tetteh, Doe Adjaho, Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio Garbrah, and Kwesi Ahwoi; names that have been popular within the NDC fratenity for future leadership. Many will also agree that had it not been an error of judgment and her age, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings could have taken a good shot at the Presidency on the party’s ticket come 2020. However, the NDC does not lack competent and good materials to succeed John Mahama. Hanna Tetteh who became prominent in politics during the Attah Mills’ government till today, although she has continuously denied interest in the Presidency, is seen by many as very ambitious and severally suspected to be behind clandestine moves to replace the Vice-President even for 2016 elections. While the United States is gunning for its first ever female President in Hilary Clinton, Ghana may likely make a strong case with Hanna Tetteh leading the NDC. It is however left to be seen if her current unfriendly media posture will have any bearing on her chances as national appeal and popularity are key factors to consider. Only this past week, Hanna Teteh refused to talk to journalists who wanted her opinion and reaction to the anti-immigrant killings in South Africa. There is a question whether such haughtiness will work well for her in an NDC leadership election. Until recently, some in the NDC leadership especially those in the once powerful Fante Confederation referred to Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi as Mr. President. Mr. Ahwoi belongs to a very powerful clique within the NDC who all along until recently have been the powerbrokers of the NDC. However, Mr. Ahwoi’s weakness could be his low popularity among the grassroot of the party, leading to his defeat by a totally unknown NDC contender in the Agona area Parliamentary primaries contest. He seems to lack the inspiration needed to lead the party in 2020, and could be nearly 70 years by 2020. Another formidable contender is Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah whose ambitions for the Presidency dates back to the year 2006 when he contested and came second to Prof. Attah Mills in the race for the flagbearership of the party. He is highly regarded by many within the NDC and even the NPP as the most convincing Presidential material for the NDC to succeed John Mahama considering his strong grassroot following, coupled with his popularity and attractiveness across political borders. Many Ghanaians even within the NDC hierarchy thought his recent appointment back to government was to pave way for him to become the 2016 running-mate of the party. But much needs to be seen from him if this public perception is anything to go by. Spio Garbrah needs to be seen as a game changer at the Ministry of Trade and Industry in order to win back the heart of the powerbrokers of the party and to fulfill his full potential as President of Ghana. His huge assets: toughness, innovativeness, outspokenness could likewise be his undoing in a political environment of extreme pretense, guile and compromise.
Other than for the fact that the current President is from the Northern sector, Alban Bagbin would have been another strong contender for the post-Mahama leadership of the Party. Already, Mr. Bagbin has granted media interviews in which he has made clear that he is interested in the Presidency. Indeed, his open vitriolic personal attacks against President John Mahama, on account allegedly of lack of access to the President, were taken by many as evidence that he still needs some maturation.
Then there is House Speaker Doe Adjaho, who has now had the opportunity to taste Presidential power, having been sworn in as President during President Mahama and the Vice President’s joint absences. The Speaker’s Parliamentary colleagues describe him as a tenacious and crafty bully who finds loopholes in legal and regulatory systems to achieve his very personal objectives. There is no doubt in the minds of those who know him that Speaker Doe Adjaho will sorely like to be President of Ghana, and he sees his current purposes as being well aligned to that longer term ambition.
So far only people with the first name of “John” have become Presidents of Ghana in the Fourth Republic. For now, there is no one with a “John” first name among the leading contenders. Against this backdrop, it is evident that, with the likes of Amissah Arthur, Hanna Tetteh, Spio Garbrah, Kwesi Ahwoi and others, the Central Region boasts of the best Presidential materials available for the NDC 2020 Presidential bid. However, as politics and winning elections is about numbers, the party needs to identify the most prepared, popular, charismatic and decisive successor to John Mahama in order to inspire followers and to sway swing voters otherwise, the party shall again taste opposition after the second term of John Mahama. Debate will continue to intensify whether the party will need to prepare the 2020 flagbearer ahead of time probably marketing him/her in 2016. The Presidential succession discourse will continue to linger on but first, winning 2016 is more crucial for the NDC and Ghana.