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Mahama running mate race: Togbe Afede, ACP Kofi Boakye and other shocking names pop up

As the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag bearer, John Mahama, continues with his “Building the Ghana We Want” campaign tour, there is jostling in the south by key party bigwigs to catch his eye for the vice-presidential slot of the party.

The latest name to pop up in the list of contenders is the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV, who could be considered to partner the NDC flag bearer for the 2024 elections.

The latest twist is in spite of the fact that former Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, who partnered former President John Dramani Mahama, in the 2020 election, remains a big contender for the position.

The names of other possible contenders being tossed around include former Chief of Staff to President Mahama, Julius Debrah; an economist, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Member of Parliament for Asunafo, Eric Opoku; and lately retired Police Commissioner, Nathan Kofi Boakye.

Mr Mahama, who is expected to announce his running mate later this month or early March, is facing intense lobbying from various power blocs within the party and interested stakeholders across the country.

But party insiders say the NDC flag bearer will most likely stick to the choice of Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, a native of the Central Region, which has proven a decisive area in presidential elections.

Prof. Opoku-Agyemang’s chances appear to have been boosted when the special aide to the flag bearer of the NDC, Joyce Bawa Mogtari, advocated the re-selection of a female running mate for her boss in the 2024 polls.

“The NDC has a constitution that stipulates the rights to who runs with any flag bearer at any given time, directing the decision of the flag bearer. I’m sure he has a whole gamut of individuals to choose from, and I have no doubt in my mind that Naana Opoku-Agyemang will still come up for enormous considerations,” Mrs Bawa Mogtari said at the launch of the Obaasima Academy in Accra.

Togbe Afede

But lead advocate for the Change Makers Forum, a group of professionals aligned to the centre-left political orientation seeking to affect leadership with advocacy, Ivan Tsidi Akrobortu, emphasised the seriousness and potential impact of the outcome of the NDC’s choice of running mate, and urged the flag bearer to go for the respected paramount chief.

For the group, Togbe Afede is a perfect choice for the NDC flag bearer who can bring his expertise in finance, economy, banking and entrepreneurship to bear on the country’s economic management.

“Togbe is ready to abdicate his stool in fulfilment of the constitutional requirement once he is selected as the running mate to the NDC flag bearer,” Mr Akrobortu said.

The group added that the running mate must be capable of navigating current and future challenges, avoiding a repeat of past economic struggles, and contributing to economic growth.

The running mate, as a potential acting President, should have a strong bond with the flag bearer, capable of understanding the President’s mindset, providing honest feedback based on data and facts, and analysing government policies effectively.

Traditional authorities

Already, traditional authorities in the Asunafo South of the Ahafo Region have recommended their Member of Parliament, Eric Opoku, for the position.

But Mr Mahama had emphasised the significance of following a clear and structured procedure in selecting the most suitable individual to join him on the NDC ticket.

In November last year when he met supporters of the party in the Bono East Region, Mr Mahama gave a hint that his running mate was likely to be someone who had served in his government as a minister and discharged his or her duties effectively.

He added that his running mate must be a humble person who had the interests of the people at heart.

The December 7 poll will pit Mr Mahama, who governed from 2012 to early 2017, against the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who holds the ticket for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).

This is the fourth time Mr Mahama, who enjoys overwhelming support in the NDC, will run for the top job of the country, which is one of Africa’s most stable democracies.

He came second to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2016 and 2020.

Jubilee House

Analysts say the choice of a suitable running mate to the flag bearer is crucial to the success of the opposition party’s ride to the Jubilee House, the seat of government.

The role of a running mate is pivotal; it extends beyond the ceremonial to the strategic, potentially shaping the electoral landscape of the country.

For many, the current economic challenges have made the opposition NDC attractive and the party has enjoyed a smooth campaign so far.

The upcoming presidential vote is expected to be keenly contested.

No party has ever won more than two consecutive terms, and the country is in the grip of an economic crisis that has driven up the cost of living and caused the cedi to tumble.

Mr Mahama, the then Vice-President, came to power in July 2012, replacing President John Atta Mills who died in office.

He won the election later that year.

He has been seeking the opportunity for a second and final term since 2016.

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