What Prof. Jane Naana Opoku has in common with past running mates that should scare the NPP

Prof. Jane Naana Opoku and John Mahama

The flagbearer of the largest opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC), His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, has selected Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang as the party’s running mate nominee for the 2020 general election. Her appointment comes as a surprise to many Ghanaians since they least expected her nomination.

Before today, a list of names was making rounds in the media suggesting some equally qualified and well-deserving NDC members as the would-be running mates. The list had a former Bank of Ghana Governor and former Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffour. Proponents of his candidature espoused his economic competence and entrepreneur skills like the right qualities to match Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. Dr Duffour also is an astute politician by all standards. There were also names like Alex Mould, who served as the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Petroleum Commission (GNPC) under John Mahama’s regime, Mr. Kingsley Awuah Darko, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson and Dr. Zenator Rawlings have all bandied around as possible running mate for John Mahama’s candidature.

Some interesting analysis around the chances of Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman as being a political novice. Some argue that she has not got the political maturity to deliver victory with her flagbearer John Dramani Mahama come December 7th 2020. Some have also raised a very legitimate concern about her gender. Professor of Political science at the University of Ghana, Ransford Gyampo, has said that gender does not play any role in our political dispensation in Ghana. He also said that the mere fact that someone was an exceptional academician does not guarantee his/her competency in political leadership. That is a statement of fact, but we should as well avert our minds to some interesting political, historical sequence under our 4th Republican democracy.

John Mahama

It is refreshing to note that, apart from John Dramani Mahama and Ekow Nkensen Ackaah, there has not been any running mate for both leading political parties who was an active partisan politician prior to their nomination.

Jerry John Rawlings chose and groomed an academic into an astute politician. Professor Mills was not a politician but a law lecturer at the University of Ghana who came into politics with his own experience. Professor Mills was very well composed, decent, and a calm politician who was loved by many.

In the year 2000, before the general election, there were scores of NPP members who wanted their flagbearer then, former President John Agyekum Kuffuor to choose someone with a strong political background. They wanted a known face as their running mate. But Kuffour surprised all of them with his choice of a political novice and a civil engineer, Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Before his appointment, he had not held any political office and was not known even to be a member of the New Patriotic Party. But after he came into the game, they worked to deliver a victory to the NPP.

In the year 2013, after the demise of the sitting president, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, people thought John Mahama would have appointed some of the senior party men as the vice president. That did not happen. He instead went in for Mr. Amissah Arthur, who was the Governor of the Bank of Ghana. Amissah Arthur just like Aliu and Mills were not frontline politicians but public servants. Both won power for their parties.

Another similar incident happened in 2008. After a heated congress to elect a flagbearer for the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo emerged as the flag bearer. They needed someone who would appeal to the general public and also bring some calm in the party. They wanted the flagbearer to select one of the failed presidential candidates like Alan Kwadwo Kyeremateng, his fiercest competitor. The name of Hajia Alima Mahama also came up. Both were fantastic politicians with enormous experience. He selected someone who was not known in politics. Some of the party people allegedly rose against the decision to choose Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who was just a deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana.

Dr Bawumia used over eight years to build his political career.

Professor Jane Naana Opoku comes from the same background. Even though she served as the Minister for Education under John Mahama for four years, she was not a frontline politician and was not seen on campaign platforms. Just as the past running mates had no experience but managed to win power for their parties, the NPP should rather be worried.

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