The curiosity to delve into the established benchmarks with regard to the choice of a running mate is deep. It is a novelty in the NDC party to name a female running mate as others have been selected before in Ghana. A precedence has been set in the history of the party, a “political invention” has been made in the biggest opposition party in Ghana.
The Vice-President is usually the chair of the Economic Management Team of a government. This is a common practice in the politics of Ghana. The Vice usually heads the Economic Management Team put together by the government and this is expected to happen if the NDC wins power this year.
Over the years, the Vice and the President do not possess the same professional and academic competencies. In the Fourth Republic, the analysis reveals that different competencies are possessed by the individuals who hold the highest offices of the Land. The norm has been a blend of backgrounds ranging from Economics, History and Communications to Politics.
The first Vice-President of the NDC was a Marketing Executive and Civil Servant. The idea to have the Economic Management Team had not been birthed. The background of the President of Ghana in 1992 and 1996 needs no mention. The second Vice-President of the NDC was an Economist. He partnered former President Rawlings. Then, Economic Management Teams were not popular in Ghana as the establishment of such units within a government started during the era of President Kuffour.
In 2000, the NPP had a Vice-President who had background in Quantity Surveying and Civil Engineering but possibly had support in Economics from the President from time to time. The then President has background in this subject area. It can be seen clearly that the Vice and the President from the beginning of the Fourth Republic to this era have had different backgrounds.
In 2009, the Vice-President, the Presidential candidate of the NDC, and the President, the late Mills had different backgrounds; an Economist and a Communications expert. As a Vice-President, Mr. Mahama was highly praised as one of the best in the history of the country. The reason was that, the economic fundamentals were genuinely fine. So, the Vice-President then was seen as a great performer between 2009 and 2011. But he might have drawn his acclaims from the economic expertise of the President, an Economist.
The Current President, a candidate in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections chose an Economist to partner him. In the era of the use of Economic Management Teams, chaired by the Vice, an Economist was preferred. In the 2012 and 2016 elections, the NDC equally selected an Economist to run with the former President. The need to have an Economist as the running mate is demanding due to the use of a body to manage the economy.
Currently, the NPP’s running mate, an Economist, has not been changed. He will be in charge of the Economic Management Team if the Party wins the 2020 Presidential elections. The NDC on the other hand has an English scholar, with several achievements in various capacities in her field. The various Vice-Presidents of Ghana with some exceptions to the immediate late Vice-President, have had little political experience before their selections.
With the use of Economic Management Teams in vogue, the Vice should have appropriate shrewdness in economic issues, at least that is the most modern practice in Ghana. The NDC’s running mate has no such records or sets of expertise and the main candidate too is a Communications expert. There is the need for tutorials from other members picked from their backyard to form the Economic Management Team.
If the NDC is voted into power, the function of the Vice to properly oversee the unit that manages the economy will be limited to some extent. In fact, issues about the economy cannot be joked with. The performance of the immediate late Vice-President of Ghana can be assessed by everyone. A new practice may be set by appointing a different person other than the Vice to Chair the Team.
The argument that the World Bank have had leaders who have no degrees in Economics but the institution does rigorous analyses is weak. Those leaders are not in charge of the analyses. The Economic Management Team is different from the World Bank. Should the Vice-President be the Communications Officer of the Economic Management Team? One of the critical functions of the Vice is leading the Economic Management Team. It is a standard that is firmly-established.
I do not intend to wade wildly into the suitability and the achievements of the two academics who have now assumed political roles. Each of them has achieved in their best capacities. The benchmarks that are needed for proper functioning in the Office of the Vice-President have consequences for the attainment of the goals and visions of a party and the country as a whole. Establishing an Economic Management Team is a necessity and a tradition that cannot be warped. There is a serious demand to have people with economic prowess in that team, as the people in it, play critical political and economic roles that ensure the survival of the “economic life” of the country. The benchmarks have been set for the office of the Veep and so they must be protected.
BY Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor - Kintampo SHS.