THE scramble and search for the election 2020 flag bearer for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will come to finality on February 23, when the party goes to the polls.
The fate of seven candidates, the highest in the party’s history, hangs on the thumbs of about 270,000 delegates who would vote in the primary to be conducted simultaneously across all 275 constituencies nationwide.
History of primaries
This is the fourth time the NDC is setting the stage for a competitive selection of a flag bearer as the party’s candidates for the 1992, 1994, 2000, 2016 elections were chosen through popular acclamation.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, the founder and first flag bearer of the party, who won the first two presidential elections in the fourth republic- 1992 and 1996, was chosen by consensus.
His then vice president, the late former President Professor John Atta Mills who became the second NDC flag bearer, was endorsed by the founder in what was christened the ‘Swedru declaration’, prior to the election 2000.
Prof Mill’s bid for the 2004 election was challenged by Former Finance Minister, Dr (now Prof) Kwesi Botchwey in 2002 but he beat the latter with 1,310 votes to 194 at a special delegate’s congress in Accra.
Prof Mills, for the third time became the party’s election 2008 candidate when he triumphed over Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, former Defence Minister, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, then a former Minister of Education and Mr Eddie Annan, a businessman with 1,362 votes representing 81.4 percent votes.
Former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the first female candidate, challenged but failed to whip Prof Mills for the 2012 election candidature in a dramatic campaign which came to be known as Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (FONKAR).
The FONKAR camp garnered 90 votes while the Get Atta-Mills Endorsed (GAME) polled 2,771 votes (96.9 per cent of total votes).
Unfortunately, Prof Mills died barely four months to election 2012 and was replaced by his Vice President, John Dramani Mahama. He was also made the party’s 2012 candidate.
He was the sole candidate for the party prior to election 2016 and polled 2,767 votes representing 99.5 per cent of votes cast to justify his endorsement but he lost the election.
Fast forward to 2019, former President Mahama, is making history in the country as the first former president to seek the bid to reclaim the power he lost.
He is 3rd on the ballot and is being challenged by six others including Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, and business man, Alhaji Nurudeen Iddrisu who are 1st and 2nd respectively on the ballot.
Others are former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority, Sylvester Mensah, 4th; former Minister of Trade and Industry, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, 5th; Businessman, Goosie Tanoh, 6th; former Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Joshua Alabi, 7th.
At the beginning of the race last year, there were about 12 aspirants.
Predictions and Permutations
Former President Mahama has been tipped by political analysts, as the most plausible winner of the election, citing his personality and popularity as an advantage.
Bearing one of the richest political resume in the country, after serving in almost all levels of governance – as deputy minister and minister, vice president and president, he is believed to be more experienced to win the 2020 elections.
However, there are divergent views of his ability to win the 2020 election. For those who believe he could win, Ghanaians had regretted voting him out and would want him back.
On the contrary, the humiliating defeat he suffered at the 2016 polls, coupled with the corruption and incompetence tag, he suffered has been cited by some analyst as indelible.
For Prof. Alabi, the only professor in the race is deemed a force to reckon with as he seems to draw favourable attention from the Northern and Southern part of the country.
His experience as a regional minister and a vice chancellor is said to have prepared him for the presidency. For his campaign team, being the seventh and last on the ballot paper is the opposite of the outcome of the election. In this case, the last shall be the first.
Mr Bagbin is first on the ballot, but political pundits say, that is not an automatic victory for him albeit his ability to preside over the country has not been doubted.
He has served in various capacities in and out of parliament, but it is believed that there are other ways to serve the country aside the presidency. Nonetheless, he could pull a surprise.
This is the second time Dr Spio-Garbrah is making a move for the ‘flag’. The NDC stalwart has, for the past 10 years, following his defeat, been nursing the ambition. His is said to be one of the forerunners in the election.
For Messrs Mensah and Tanoh as well as Alhaji Iddrisu, political scientists see them as threats to the so-called forerunners in the election as they would reduce the votes they would set.
In view of this, it has been estimated that the winners would struggle to poll 90 percent in the election.
With the unpredictable nature of delegates, we can only wait for Saturday to see how the plot of the polls plays out.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR