-but Lordina Mahama prefers Eric Opoku
With the increased political consciousness amongst Ghanaian voters of late, former President John Dramani Mahama’s choice of running mate can either mean a return to power of the National Democratic Congress or victory for the New Patriotic Party in the all-important 2020 elections.
Like the choice of a lifetime partner, selecting a running mate is so important that it can either make or mar the former President’s unrelenting effort at making history by beating the NPP in the next presidential election, a party that truncated his much relished political dream of securing a second term in the 2016 elections.
A chieftain of the NDC who craved anonymity, recently told THE WITNESS that though selecting a running mate is mostly the decision of the flag bearer; former President John Dramani Mahama has “this time round given the party a role to play in deciding who partners him into the 2020 elections”
At a marathon close door meeting over the weekend by National Executives of the NDC and some kingpins at the Adabraka headquarters, a unanimous decision was reached to name Mr Asiedu Nketia, popularly known as General Mosquito, as the party’s running mate after it came to light that Mr Mahama and elders of the party have settled on the 62 year old banker-turned- politician.
“Basically, we are looking at getting someone from the Akan regions, and even with that, Western North, Bono East, Ahafo, Bono and Western regions are top on our list,” he revealed.
“We would have to weigh the electoral value of these regions and decide where we would allot it. In doing this, there was the need to maintain a balance between the existing political configuration, which requires the party to challenge the dominance of the NPP in the high voting Ashanti region by not necessary picking a running mate from there but get someone from one of the swing regions to maximize our Akan votes; and the need to retain the loyalty of the four Northern regions and the Volta and Oti regions that had remained NDC strongholds,” the NDC bigwig explained.
Deep throat sources close to NDC chieftains working with Mr Mahama to select a desirable running mate disclosed to THE WITNESS that, the biggest opposition party’s General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia’s name “has come up strongly in our deliberations.”
“It has generally been accepted by us, and John himself is in agreement with us, that as it stands now, the NDC needs a running mate that our base can relate with. In choosing a running mate, you need to consider the attributes of the flag bearer, and get someone who can attract votes from areas that the flag bearer may fall short. Part of the reasons we lost election 2020 was that our core supporters refused to vote and the gurus in the party also sat on the fence because they were, in one way or the other, peeved. To cure this, we need someone that will be accepted by these categories of persons”
“John Mahama, naturally, appeals to floating voters and the middle class so on any day, these categories of voters will go for him. What he probably lacks, which our next running mate must have, is the skills to connect with cadres or old guards of the party and rural folks in general. The old guards need someone they can easily relate with and see as one of their own,” a strategist of the NDC asserted.
Mr Asiedu Nketia’s name, this paper gathered, has emerged as the preferred choice of running mate from the Bono region (formerly Brong Ahafo region) principally because of his influence in the Bono, Ahafo, Sefwi, Ahanta, Ashanti and other Akan regions, and also his unmatched relationship with the grassroots.
However, former Chief of Staff, Mr Julius Debrah, and former Finance Minister, Prof Kwesi Botchwey, are also said to be lurking around with hopes of finding favor with the power brokers. In the case of Mr Debrah, his background as an Akyem is said to have turned the slate against him, as political watchers say, it would not be prudent for NDC to go into election 2020 with him since President Akufo-Addo is also an Akyem.
Insiders say, the choice of Prof Kwesi Botchwey had long been dropped by Mr Mahama who is reported to have said he prefers a running mate who is below 70 years.
The choice of Asiedu Nketia points to a bid to generate support in the swing Akan regions, where John Mahama polled badly in the 2016 elections. “To win election 2020, all we need to do is to hold on to our strongholds up North and Volta and Oti, which Mahama will do, and turn the swing regions in our favor. Greater Accra has always been a battle ground and, with the present political atmosphere, we are most likely to pick it in 2020,” a sourced stated.
Though Gen Mosquito is said be the most favored for the number two job, former First Lady, Lordina Mahama is reported averse to it, insisting that if her hubby desires a political partner from the Bono and Ahafo enclave for the 2020 elections, then it must be the former Abrong Ahafo regional minister and MP for Asunafo South, Hon Eric Opoku.
The 46-year old legislator, a known poodle of the former First Lady, is said to have found favor with Mrs Lordina Mahama due to his unalloyed loyalty to her, a disposition that has become a trump-card being used to make a good case for him to be considered ahead of Mr Asiedu Nketia.
THE WITNESS has however gathered that the choice of Asiedu Nketia has been given a clean bill of health by the regional Chairmen Caucus, parliamentary caucus, financiers and elders of the NDC. The Chairmen Caucus, this paper is reliably informed, conferred with Mr Asiedu Nketia to convince him to accept the post of which he was reported to have said “if that is the capacity in which the party wants me to serve to secure victory, why not”.
Source: The Witness