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Opinions of Saturday, 28 November 2015

Columnist: Alhaji Mustapha Iddrisu

The running mate debate in the NDC is unproductive

Four key factors that dictate political victory are lucid strategy, attainable manifesto, effective organisation, clear message and sense of purpose and direction. Our past leadership demonstrated these attributes to the advantage of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Prof. Attah Mills of blessed memory replaced Martin Amidu with Hon. Mohammed Mumuni when it was clear that he (Martin) did not complement his ticket in the 2000 general elections. His unattractiveness added almost nothing to the ticket. The same thing can be said about Hon. Mohammed Mumuni after the party failed to win the elections conducted on 7th December, 2004.

The choice of John Dramani Mahama by Prof. Mills was a master stroke. The ticket delivered the party a sweet victory in the keenly contested 2008 general elections after eight years in the"bitterness of opposition" characterised by political persecutions, unwarranted arrests and prosecutions. This election produced a difference of over 40,000 votes in favour of the NDC after it went into third round in TAIN.

Opponents have argued that perhaps the Former President, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings set the precedence with Kow Nkensen Arkaah, who was replaced with Prof. Attah Mills as his running mate before seeking for the second term in office in the 1996 general elections. These give some people the erroneous impression that is not out place for a sitting Vice President to be changed. But history is understood in context, time and place. It is not just understood by simple narrations of stories and misinterpretations of events for selfish gain.

Hence, I dare say that these scenarios can never be the same. To do that, is more or less comparing apples to oranges.The then vice president (Arkaah) developed sour relationship with his boss, Jerry John Rawlings beyond reconciliation which was an open secret. However, the relationship between President Mahama and Vice President Amissah-Arthur is cordial as far as my eyes can see and my ear can hear. The Vice President has proven beyond reasonable doubt to be a team player and suitable partner in changing Ghanaian lives and transforming Ghana.

After the demise of Prof. Mills, the then Vice President, Mr. John Mahama, assumed the mantle of the leadership in Ghana and constitutionally nominated Amissah-Arthur as his Vice President for Parliamentary approval and subsequently named him his running mate for the 2012 general elections. NDC convincingly won the elections albeit the supreme court petition by the NPP. This time round with a wider margin of over 300,000 votes. This ticket handed heavier defeat to the Nana Addo-Bawumia Ticket that made the elephant tumbling up to date without any sign of recovery.

Even though the NPP duo were squarely beaten twice in 2008 and 2012 general elections, the NPP still thought it wise to present them due to their perceived "visibility and marketability" for the forthcoming elections next year. I personally think that it will be political blunder if the president succumbs to the cacophony of noise coming from the regions. This political gimmick has the tendency of causing division and disaffection to the party if the party leadership has not immediately come with a road map to curtail it.

It is laughable to hear those who are calling for the replacement of the current Vice President. They have been quick to cite the performance of the economy as their main reason. They contend that as the Head of Economic Management Team he should be solely held responsible for the country's economic woes. What about the Minister of Finance and the Governor of Bank of Ghana? Should they also be sacked or replaced? My answer is not at this time. This is not the time to rock the boat. In this matter, I wish to be "conservative Democrat." It will be political suicidal going into elections next year without this pair.

The state of our economy should be a collective responsibility and should not be pinned down to the doorstep of one person. If they extend this argument further, these peoples will be helping to arm the NPP, the desperate opposition party, enough weapons to shoot the NDC down in the 2016 general elections. The removal of the Vice President with this flimsy reason will be a loud statement on the verdict of the government's performance and it will end up denting the image and chances of the party.

While some people in the party contend that like the Former Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama,under Former President Kufuor's administration, Amissah-Arthur's two tenure in office as Vice President of Ghana will end up as such due to his advanced age. The fear is that this will go against the NDC's well-established convention where Vice Presidents are nurtured enough to succeed the exiting presidents. They quickly point to the successions of the late President, Prof. Mills and the Current President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama from their previous positions as Vice Presidents to buttress their point. My view on this assertion however, is that conventions are not laws in Ghana.

In any case, the United States of America, a leading light of democracy in the world, has produced many Vice Presidents who did not become presidents, but are still celebrated for their contributions, dedications, commitments and patriotisms. Examples of such Vice Presidents in USA include, but not limited to Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, etc. These illustrious leaders left or have left their foot prints on the sands of time in the history of America. To me, what is more important is one's contributions towards the development of his country today rather than what one will become in future. Let us all as Ghanaians endeavour to brighten our corners now rather than waiting to occupy a position you may not live to achieve.

It is clear in the mind of every discerning Ghanaian who the president's choice is. The pointers are visible and clear to the sharpest mind. When President Mahama made the Vice President picked up his nomination forms from the General Secretary, it was clear signal enough to all political watchers his subsequent intentions will be. The president's exaltation and praises of his vice president's capabilities at the party headquarters when he was there for the declaration of his 95.10 massive endorsement was another pointer.

All discerning party members who are nursing the running mate ambition would have had change of mind by now, no matter how subtle it was. There is no need to change a winning team. I will therefore, be surprised if the president eventual decides otherwise. The two are the best bet for the party for the 2016 general elections. The Vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has on countless occasions competently acted as the President whenever President Mahama embarks on foreign trips. The members should remember that the central message of the party in the 2016 general elections will be "continuity".

The president has the prerogative per the party constitution in consultation with the party leadership to select the running mate. Very soon this constitutional mandate will be discharged by President Mahama to the satisfaction of the majority of party members. Therefore, no group of people or region should stampede him into taking hasty decision. I believe that the right choice will be made in the interest of the NDC and Ghana at the next council of elders meeting in Accra.

On this note, I wish to congratulate the president once again for the massive endorsement he received from the party members. All party executives at all levels and the entire membership of the NDC deserve commendations for the smooth, peaceful and successful primaries.

Let the government continue to concentrate on "Changing Lives and Transforming Ghana Agenda." #iamstillforJohn-AmissahTicketfor2016#

Alhaji Mustapha Iddrisu Takoradi