Anxiety is building up among sympathisers and supporters of the opposition NDC, as names filter in for possible running-mate choice to partner John Mahama into the upcoming 2024 General elections.
It appears the former President and Presidential candidate for the NDC, has to decide sooner than later whether or not to retain the 2020 candidate, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman for the crucial battle ahead, as party enthusiasts have started casting verdict on her replacement.
Unofficial sources have confirmed to this paper that a secret survey has been commissioned to ascertain the popularity of the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast and her potential replacement with names of five big shots making the rounds.
The ‘Daily Graphic’ newspaper has also revealed that five names have emerged as potential running mates from which John Mahama may soon nominate his running mate, should he take the decision to drop Prof Opoku-Agyemang.
A case is being made for “someone who is a true grassroot man, able to add energy, creativity, strategy and action to the campaign to relieve the flagbearer to the party’s policy to the masses, is required as running mate for the 2024 presidential elections”, a party executive advocated.
Questions over suitability of the 2020 running mate of the NDC, to partner Mr Mahama in the next election campaign is igniting fiery conversations within the rank and file of the opposition NDC as the party inches deeper into preparations to recapture political power.
The decision over who would replace the former educationist and towering university don as the vice-presidential candidate, should the axe fall on her may be the toughest task facing Mr. Mahama in the next few months as it seems his party is determined to fast-track preparations towards the 2024 elections ahead of their counterparts.
Sturdily, a cross-section of supporters and enthusiasts of the party are legitimising scepticisms over the impact of the 71-year-old Professor on the 2020 general elections and even making a case for a fresh face to ‘power’ the NDC Presidential ticket to victory in the upcoming 2024 Presidential battle.
On the other side of the debate, there are those who argue for fresh faces and new ideas as happens to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which is able to porch NDC members and make them the running mates labelling them as new faces.
The worried NDC members highlighted the importance of injecting new energy into the campaign and tapping into emerging talents within the party. Supporters of alternative potential running mates argue that change is vital to rejuvenate the party and connect with a wider demographic.
“Some of the names unravelling as possible replacements include, Dr. Zanetor Rawlings, daughter of the late founder of the NDC (Jerry John Rawlings), Julius Debrah, former Chief of Staff under John Mahama, Awuah Darko, former Chief executive of BOST/TOR), Prof. Joshua Alarbi, 2020 campaign manager and former Vice Chancellor of UPSA, and Ato Forson, Minority Leader in parliament”, reported the national daily.
Enter Joshua Alabi; also a former Rector of the Institute of Professional Studies, now University of Professional Studies. He was the campaign manager for Mr. Mahama in the 2020 elections and said to have a great impetus for marketing and of a ‘Ga’ heritage. Professor Alabi’s performance as an administrator is widely admired. It is however not clear if his excellence would be enough to rally the votes alongside John Mahama.
Julius Debrah, born 24 April 1966, former chief of staff to Mr. Mahama a practicing entrepreneur although a trained archaeologist. Described as a strategist par excellence and a grassroot giant and perhaps one of the most effective Chief of Staff under the fourth republic dispensation.
In February 2015, he was appointed chief of staff after the former, Prosper Douglas Bani was removed from office and assigned Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary.
Mr. Debrah previously held the positions of Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and Regional Minister for Eastern Region. Julius is deeply rooted in Eastern region politics, having contested thrice, the Suhum parliamentary and coming close to winning the seat.
He has since losing the 2016 elections been a close ally of Mr. Mahama. But that is seen as his nemesis as sceptics believe he is too loyal to fault and may not be able to hold his own against Mahama and kitchen cabinet when it becomes necessary.
As a Kwawu and Akyem at the same time, he fits the justification of tribal advocates that a person from the majority Akan tribe is required to accompany Mahama as the running mate.
The daughter of NDC’s founder, the late President Jerry John Rawlings is advanced by her family link aside her stunning charisma. Haven’t contested and won twice the Korle Klottey seat for the NDC. Dr. Zenator Rawlings also comes in with a youthful face with 2028 up for grab after Mahama’s one term in sight. Also may stand a better chance if the focus on gender is still a strong factor for consideration in the 2024 elections. She also draws strong genes from her mother’s Ashanti heritage, making her complete for the purpose.
Enters: the Pharmacist and Mahama’s Chief executive for two state institutions at the same time; BOST/TOR. His name had come up strongly in the run up to the nomination of the 2020 running-mate as a potential candidate. But he did not make it as Prof. Naana Jane was the preferred choice of ex-President Mahama.
Awuah Darko comes on with great experience but lacks depth in the party. He was part of the Ashanti Region’s campaign team in 2020 which arguably looked on as the NPP infiltrated the party’s polling agents and raised its numbers at the polls to retain power. Although touted as having a strong capacity to help raise the needed funds for the party’s electioneering campaign if nominated as the running mate.
Sylvester Mensah’s name has come up severally as potential running mate choice since 2016 after he was removed as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Authority. He has been at the centre of many battles in the NDC, a grassroot man but who doesn’t quite gel with the NDC flagbearer. Some think he is overly ambitious, but others believe his Ga and Volta chemistry makes him a force to reckon with and that he is charming enough to attract a chunk constituency of youth to vote the NDC into power if he partners JM. He had also been MP for La Dade-Kotopon in the Greater Region. The son of a man from Keta and a Ga woman from La. He knows the NDC party having been around and served since Rawlings’ PNDC days.
Also making the rounds, is the name of the Minority Leader, Ato Forson, whose meteoric rise to the helm of the Minority in Parliament gives a strong suggestion of his potential as a running mate candidate. Referred mostly as slow but sure, Ato Forson pedigree in the party, is growing from strength.
He was a former Deputy Finance Minister and has been in Parliament since 2008, representing the people of Cape Coast North. Ato’s home region (Central Region) is always crucial to win in previous elections. But since 1996, the region has either served the NDC as a Presidential candidate or the running mate. Some have argued that it is time to move on to other regions.
The coming days will make things evident as to the direction of the party when it comes to running mate. Many have argued that the selection will determine whether it is ready for power with a united front; working for the numbers, the quality of the person, his or her credibility amid a succession plan for the NDC after Mr. Mahama.
It has been said that the NPP doesn’t let go off power easily hence the NDC must put in lots of effort without assuming 2024 is already a done deal for it simply because the ruling NPP had failed with respect to the economy, corruption, infrastructure among others.