Ghana’s former president John Dramani Mahama, has dropped the clearest hint yet that he will contest his party’s primaries to select a candidate for the 2020 presidential election.
And that will go against the advice of his family, who indicated in January 2017 that he will not contest elections again. “John has given his all in politics to the NDC (National Democratic Congress) and Ghana and we think it is just fair that we allow him to rest,” his younger brother, Ibrahim, said.
But the former president has never taken a back seat since the 2016 election results were announced. He has been touring the regions over the past months in what has been dubbed “NDC Unity Walk”, apparently to galvanise his party, after the humiliating loss to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in December 2016.
But many political analysts see these “walks” as efforts to test his popularity among his party grassroot, reorganise the party structures as well as prepare the grounds for a comeback.
In a recent facebook post, he wrote: “I want to congratulate the rank & file and executives of our party, the NDC, at all levels for the commitment and work rate we have put into our reorganization efforts.
“The zeal and determination of the average sympathiser of our great party is greater and miles ahead of what it was after the December 2016 Elections.
“We need to keep up with the momentum generated and follow the published timelines.
“To you the teeming supporters and sympathisers calling and requesting me to declare my intentions for the future, I wish to assure you today, that as a servant-leader, I have listened to your calls and reflected. I will not disappoint you even as we await the publication of the party’s guidelines for selecting a new leader.”s keep himself in the country’s political limelight.”
That is a clear answer to the daily demands from the party grassroot for him to lead them to the 2020 polls.
Mahama was defeated Nana Akufo Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2016 election, although he beat the NPP candidate in December 2012 after a brief campaign when he became the party’s candidate following the sudden death of President John Evans Atta Mills.
In 2016 things were very different, with the NPP latching onto harsh economic conditions, serious electricity scarcity and stories about corruption.
Although the electricity problems were largely resolved in 2016, the cost of the utility was unbearable and the damage had been done to his political fortunes at that time.
As the NDC seeks to shake off that defeat, for many in the party, he is the best marketable of the other contestants who have thrown their hat into the ring – former National Health Insurance Authority Chief Executive Officer, Sylvester Mensah; Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin; former Trade and Industry Minister Ekwow Spio-Garbra; and former legislator, academic and vice chancellor of University of Professional Studies, Joshua Alabi.
The affable and smooth communicator Mahama had served as a parliamentarian, deputy minister, minister, vice president and president. The centre-left NDC has won four of the seven elections held in Ghana since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1992 while the centre-right NPP has won three. His diplomatic shuttles for the Economic Community of West African States, African Union and Commonwealth are remarkable.
Clearly, his family must have been deeply hurt by the insults hurled at him during the 2016 election campaign hence their decision that their son will not contest another election in the West African country after winning only 44.4% of the votes on 7 December last year.
Ibrahim Mahama said: “We were very supportive and instrumental in convincing him to partner the late (President) Prof. J.E.A. Mills, and when the time came for him to contest for President, we supported him and advised him to go for it…Now we have advised him not to make a comeback in 2020.”
But it looks like the former president has bowed to pressure from the party and will set aside the advice of his family.