WHO PICKS THE TOP SPOT- Sly, the arrow head campaigner, JM the favourite or Prof. the great academician?

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So far it is been good-quite an eventful campaign witnessed so far. The noise is on the quiet. Yes, a crash programme it is.

This is largely due to the fact that, there seem to be much pressure on not only delegates, but also the members as well who have put themselves up for positions.

Arguably , the party seem unduly late with elections of various officers at all levels. First of all, the branch elections got delayed, then constituency regional and now the national elections-originally slated for September, moved to October. Then when a definite date of 3rd November, 2018 appeared to be clear, Hogbetsotso forced another date of 17th November. For now this could be the obvious. But it comes at a price. I won’t be surprised to see the presidential primaries moved, though not easy.

If you are familiar with the NDC constitution, you do not need rocket science to suggest so.

The newly-elected executives are to hold the presidential primaries. They have to finish all other legally binding demands and allow for voting on 7th December, 2018. This is the position of the Constitution.

Article 42 clause 1 supports the above position. In opposition, primaries for the flag bearer should be held at least 24 months to a major election. Anything short of that, NEC must call for an emergency conference to amend the constitution. Which ever way you look at it, we are quite late. That notwithstanding, since 2nd August, 2018 a number of hopefuls have been crisscrossing the country officially, meeting focused groups, delegates, constituency and national executives, as well as opinion leaders within the regions and constituencies. This in no doubt have made the delegates and indeed the entire party quite busy.

Of those who have officially started campaigning are Hon. Sylvester A. Mensah, former president John Mahama, Dr. Spio Garbrah, Hon. ASK Baghin, Lawyer Elipklim Agbamava, Mr. Goosie Tanoe, Prof Joshua Alabi and lately Hon. Rickette Hagan, former Central regional minister.

Of the personalities above, I can say without mincing words that those whose campaigns seem to be gelling in terms of party faithful support and enthusiasm is Hon. Sylvester A. Mensah, Former president John Mahama and Prof. Joshua Alabi.

In the case of the former president, he seem to have the advantage of a former leader status on his side. Of course that should be expected. As leader and former president, he still enjoys large support from his appointees, who will go the extra mile to ensure all his meetings are attended by supporters and delegates. It doesn’t matter what it will cost them to do so.

One good turn, they say…… Bus them, entice them, whatever. The most important thing is to get the halls and meeting places packed. Also, like normal as it is, there are people who may not even be delegates, but having not seen the president up and close ever in their entire life, they may rush to catch a glimpse of him if need be. Same applies to people who may not be die hard NDC or even political animals, but may like him for one or two reasons as a former leader of this nation and will not mind to spend a few seconds to step out to meet him if he is scheduled for a constituency near them. All these may account for the large following seen on social media and should not scare his colleagues.

Both Prof and Sly may have to draw their support merely from delegates and a few party supporters as they are not relatively known as compared to the former leader. Amongst the two, they both can attract a few other people because of their own constituencies. While Prof may be lucky to meet a few people who might have crossed path with him as the Vice Chancellor of UPSA, Sly comes across as a young and more likeable personality whose exemplary leadership at NHIA as CEO might have won him some love and respect as one of its great managers. Many, who were also lucky to have secured jobs under him as CEO of NHIA and are party people are likely to be happy to hear he is coming to a constituency near them.

This is the scale on which I choose to discuss the three leading personalities in the flag bearership race.

JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA

Many, I have spoken and listened to, holds the view that Mr. Mahama, the former president starts as the favourite. No doubt. They believe he ticks most of the boxes. Presentable, experienced, have the sturdy hands for the job and likeable with most of the old hands supporting his candidature.

In terms of cash to sail through the primaries, he is got it. And even to help run the main campaign in 2020, none comes close. He is a tall tower in the race. But a cursory look at his Central and Northern regional tours since he began the campaign a couple of days back, confirms the other school of thought that holds the view that the man credited with a great infrastructural developments, between 2012 to 2016, only second to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, hasn’t changed much. The flamboyance is still a characteristic feature of his campaign. The jamboree type often without any clear message to leave with supporters.

He is also often seen to campaign more as though he is already the flag bearer which is actually opening him up for more jabs externally even before the main bout starts. His over reliance on the failed free SHS policy of the ruling party is not working for us. Especially, when the party hasn’t really decided on which message to go into 2020 with so far as the policy is concerned is a great worry. Many people, silent voices of course, are actually wondering what exactly he has for the *PARTY* as he is often caught speaking more about national issues when the delegates want to hear what new they are to expect as the leader of the party first and subsequently government in 2020. These and many other experiences makes it easy for one to conclude that, though tipped by many pundits to win the primaries, the NDC won’t look different from the one he led from 2012 to 2016.

PROF JOSHUA ALABI

A fine academician and a politician. One of the leading members of the great party. He is often credited as the magic behind the transformation of the then IPS now a full fledged university, UPSA. Just recently, a friend mention to me his respect for the good old Prof with regards to the wonderful work on the UPSA Library. The man who is affectionately referred to us “Solution 2020” has covered a lot more grass in this campaign as compared to his colleagues. But his inability to put his initial team intact, coupled with his demeanor, personality and his below par performance in terms of presentation and power over language compared to the three former presidents, JJ Rawlings, Prof Mills and John Mahama, makes his bid a difficult one. Truth be told, Prof Alabi is a great personality by all standards. Very educated, but I doubt how he will pull a fast one to represent the party. In short, his presidential looks, dressing and general appearance won’t make the cut. He may need to bring something more on board to cause a surprise. For now, the feedback is that he is talking more about himself than what he intends to bring on board.

SYLVESTER ADINAM MENSAH

A great personality by all standards. Regionally, his background cuts across. He draws his support from two great regions that have stood by the party from day one. Volta and Greater Accra. He ticks most of the boxes. Youthful, clout, experience, well-cut for the job. He is got depth, presentable, charismatic and looks presidential. He is described by many as a chip from an old block. He represent the new breed of politician. The insider-outsider kind.
By qualification, he is got it. A finance and strategic management expect with great control and power over language.

Above all, he is a foundation member of the great NDC and by Grace served in almost all levels from party to government to Parliament. Long association with party, but still trendy with the issues. He is arguably the only person who is largely talking about how he intends to get it right with party-government relationship.

Recently in Upper East, he was heard on tape talking about how he will empower youth and women as well as calling for the party’s constitution to be amended to make the role of Counsel of Elders more effective all year round.

He is often heard saying, “it’s not about Sly or about any individual but the party and country”. So far his message seem to be addressing the general needs and frustration of loyal party members. His fast growing message is anchored on three thematic areas. Renewed Hope, shared prosperity and rewarding loyalty.

His ability to keep his initial team in tact while he continues to ensure its growth in terms of numbers and depth is admirable. He is telling delegates exactly what every one worth leading this party should be interested in. If he can keep the momentum like it is now, I won’t be surprise to see him emerged to occupy the top spot and the leader of the party even though he starts as the underdog.

It is however early days yet, as the campaign intend to heat up after the national executive elections and with a possible window of moving the presidential primaries to sometime next year looking at the time, it will be out of place to call it now, though many believe otherwise.

Between now and then, each candidate can do more to turn things around.

May the best candidate emerge for the good of party and country.

By: Eric Nii Odartey Lamptey

Ghana News Online

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