John Dramani Mahama has chosen her running mate for the general election in December this year. The choice and the decision have been a long-awaited one. Both political players and political observers were worried about his delay. He shocked most people with his choice of partner. Many anticipated someone different other than Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman.
After the announcement was made, party communicators, as usual, would have to outline the uniqueness of the candidate chosen. The major or perhaps the leading one has to do with the gender card. Many of the communication officers of the party and some foot soldiers are creating the impression that Professor Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman will be the first female running mate. That is factually inaccurate, and history and facts do not support that.
Female running mate predates the 4th Republic. Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang’s nomination comes as the tenth in the history of Ghana. Ghana is not new to a female either serving as a vice presidential candidate or a presidential candidate. Ghana, unlike the Arab countries, has trust in women and has consistently put women in critical national positions. Women have served as Chief Justice, Speaker of parliament, Ministers and deputies, Chief of Staff, and other high government positions.
The first female to become a running mate in Ghana was Lt.Col Christine Debrah, also known as Nana Kwabea Debrah Apraku I, a queen mother of the Akwapem traditional area. She was as a running mate of an independent Presidential candidate, Robert Patrick Baffour in the 1979 elections. She was the first Ghanaian Matron of the 37 Military Hospital.
In the 1992 general elections too, a woman served as a running mate. This indicates women have since been actively involved in partisan politics. The famous Ghanaian poultry farmer and politician who formed his political party in 1992 stood for president in the election. Dr. Kwabena Darko, who is the owner of Darko Farms, formed the National Independence Party (NIP) and settled on Prof. Naa Afarley Sackeyfio as his vice-presidential candidate for the 1992 elections.
In 1996 there was no female in the contest.
In the year 2000, there was another woman factor that featured prominently in the elections. Dr. Daniel Lartey of blessed memory formed the Great Consolidated People Party (GCPP) and championed his widespread “domestication” vision for Ghana. Petra Amegashie, another female, was selected as the running mate of Dan Lartey’s GCPP.
In 2004 there was no woman in the contest too. But another one came in 2008 as a running mate. The Democratic Freedom Party (DFP)’s flag bearer, the 43-year-old Mr. Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi, nominated his running mate, Mrs. Patience Ameku, also a female.
The year 2012 was a great year for gender activists. That year had so many women coming up to the forefront. There was even a female presidential candidate in the person of Madam Akua Donkor of the Ghana Freedom Party. The one-time flag bearer of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Dr. Michael Abu Sakara Foster also nominated a female. Dr. Abu Sakara Foster appointed Cherita Sarpong as the running mate of the CPP in the 2012 general elections. That was the year, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom broke out from the CPP and formed his political party, the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP). He also appointed a female as his running mate. Late Ing. Eva Lokko was the running mate of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom in 2012.
Mr. Hassan Ayariga, who brought so much comedy into the political space, also appointed a female as his running mate. Helen Matervi ran with Dr. Hassan Ayariga in 2012.
In the year 2016, Ghana ultimately had a female on the ballot paper. The phenomenal and dynamic Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the longest-serving first lady, formed her political party after she failed to unseat Professor John Evans Atta Mills as the flag bearer of the NDC in 2012. She formed the National Democratic Party (NDP) and was the presidential candidate in the 2016 general election.
Akua Donkor had her nomination forms disapproved by the Electoral Commission in the 2016 elections.
After the running mate for Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom in 2012 passed on, he selected another female running mate for the 2016 general elections. Brigitte Dzogbenuku was the running mate for Papa Kwesi Nduom in 2016.
Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang’s nomination comes as a plus to women empowerment, but that is not the first time a woman is serving in that role. What is true is that she is the first woman to be the running mate for the two largest political parties in Ghana; the NDC and the NPP.