The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has unanimously settled on President John Dramani Mahama as its presidential candidate for the 2012 general elections.
The selection of President Mahama follows the sudden death of President John Evans Atta Mills on Tuesday, creating a vacuum.
Mr Mahama, who was his vice president and running mate, was subsequently sworn-in as president, with the position of flag-bearer still vacant.
However, at a hurriedly convened National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) at Madina, Accra, yesterday, the party decided to endorse his candidature for want of time to open nominations for fresh congress.
The hasty selection of a presidential candidate has been faulted by political analysts who think that the NDC should have allowed the one week mourning period to elapse before selecting a successor for President Mills as flag-bearer for 2012.
Kojo Asante, a governance and legal policy officer at the Centre for Democratic Development, said he was disappointed with the hasty preparations in finding Mills’s successor.
Mr Asante told Citi FM that it was too early to decide who would lead the NDC in the December elections, especially when President Mahama had declared one week of mourning.
He said: “I still think we should still show respect and grieve for this week. I am actually surprised that the party has already started its own internal processes to deal with the flagbearership because they really need to use this week to get the rank and file to pay their respect.
“I am a bit disappointed that they’ve gone straight into these discussions and you can feel that it’s going to trigger all kinds of issues.”
The main agenda of the NEC meeting was for the members to conduct a national delegates’ congress to endorse John Mahama as the flagbearer of the grieving party.
Sources at the meeting told DAILY GUIDE that the motion for the adoption of the new NDC leader for the party’s 2012 flag-bearer was tabled by the NDC majority caucus in parliament spearheaded by Communications Minister, Haruna Iddrisu.
He tabled and moved a motion before NEC, asking the highest decision-making body after congress to endorse Mr Mahama as the party’s candidate in the upcoming elections.
The motion was seconded by Daniel Annan, a national vice-chairperson of the NDC and backed by Kwasi Aboagye, the Volta regional chairman of the party.
The underlying basis for taking that decision was because of the extreme time constraints facing the NDC as it headed for the December general elections.
Also, the NEC’s decision was to stem any potential rancour that might arise out of a full-scale national delegates’ congress for the election of a flag-bearer, having in mind the FONKAR-GAME acrimony which is still simmering.
A resolution issued after the meeting which closed around 1pm, stated: “The National Executive Committee at its emergency meeting on the 26th day of July 2012, held at the Institute of Local Government Studies, Accra in respect of the creation of a vacancy of a flag bearer of the NDC hereby resolves as follows:
That a special delegates’ congress to endorse the leader of the NDC, H.E. John Dramani Mahama as a flag bearer of the NDC to contest the 2012 Presidential elections in accordance with the due process of the party’s constitution to be conveyed not in less than 1st September, 2012.”
The party is expected to convey at a yet-to-be-known venue to hold the said special delegates’ congress to present him to the entire NDC body.
Present at the meeting were key and influential members of the government and the NDC including party chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, General Secretary Johnson Asiedu-Nketia and Propaganda Secretary Richard Quashigah, Foreign Affairs Minister Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, Transport Minister Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Agriculture Kwesi Ahwoi, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Dr Ben Kunbour and a host of others.
What is still not certain is who would partner the president as running mate into the election.
This is in view of the fact that he is yet to appoint a vice president who, from indications, would be made to partner him as running mate, even though Asiedu-Nketiah said the running mate was the prerogative of the party while the selection of a vice president was a national affair.
Newly installed President Mahama is faced with challenges that will force him to strike a very delicate balance to maintain the rhythm of both the NDC government and the functionality of the party.
Political science lecturer at the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, Dr. Michael Kpesah-Whyte, said President John Mahama’s first major decision, which would be his choice of vice president and eventual running mate, would determine his priorities and fundamental values.
Several names have popped up as possible choices. They include former presidential advisor and chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Paul Victor Obeng, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, a former Finance and Economic Planning Minister and Agriculture Minister, Kwesi Ahwoi, Trade and Industry Minister Hannah Tetteh, Local Government Minister Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, and former chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Authority, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu and Raphael Adeniran