After many weeks and months of dilly-dallying, suspense and speculations, the dailyEXPRESS newspaper reports that MP for Bole Bamboi and former Communications Minister John Mahama will be filing his nomination to contest the presidential primaries of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) when nominations open formally on Thursday.
Supporters of Mr. Mahama's bid have hailed his decision, describing him as the best among the lot to dislodge the ruling NPP in the 2008 elections.
Mr. Mahama has all this while not giving any indication of his decision, leaving a lot of his followers in a limbo amidst threats that they will be compelled to throw their weight behind other candidates if he fails to meet a set deadline.
When reached by the dailyEXPRESS last Saturday, Mr. Mahama characteristically remained cagey, parrying the question away and promising to get back to our news desk later, but one of his main campaigners who is also a Member of Parliament confirmed his decision.
“He is definitely contesting. We've had to move very tactically in this game especially when the media is engaging in all kinds of speculations and knocking of heads against each other” he said.
Pleading for anonymity, the MP told the dailyEXPRESS that now that the date for nominations has been set and congress date known, “he is only waiting for the arrival of President Rawlings to officially inform him of his decision before meeting the press.”
Close associates and relations will not make any formal confirmation of the decision but say it will be welcome news should he join the race. John, is reputed to enjoy lots of support and sympathy from the ranks of the party, which should pitch him against the most popular among the candidates John Evans Atta Mills.
John's confirmation brings to six the number of confirmed candidates if we are to include Minority leader Alban Kingsford Bagbin. The other high flyers are businessman Edward Annan, former Education Minister Ekwow Spio Garbrah and recently Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, a former presidential adviser.
Political analysts while agreeing that he is still relatively young, maintain that the country will also do with a more youthful but experienced orientation, and John “enjoys the support of a lot more people from diverse political backgrounds” than any of the other contestants.
Reacting to suggestions that he is not likely to enjoy the support of the party founder, a leading member of the party referred the writer to a previous dailyEXPRESS report that indicated that Jerry Rawlings while not supporting any candidate still believes as he did prior to 2004 that John Mahama is the man with the finesse to tactically dislodge the enemy.
The John Mahama camp considers the decision to formally inform the former president before making any public comments as important and in reverence to the former president who is the holding force behind the NDC.
Meanwhile, the dailyEXPRESS has information that the power brokers in the NDC have been making a pitch for a John Mahama running mate should he contest or lose the primaries. The argument has been that the NDC in addition to its broad mass of supporters needs a candidate that can on his own win votes and John Mahama is considered by many party faithful and analysts as someone who can win personal votes.
His low sides however include his somewhat laidback style of politicking which even his key supporters in the party say needs some awakening, and also the fact that he appear to be too sensitive to political attacks from opponents and always plays 'the nice man role.'
The National Executive Committee of the party has confirmed December 15 to 17 for its special congress to elect a flagbearer to lead the party to the crucial 2008 polls. With nominations due to open on Thursday, campaigning will start soon.
Lead contender as at this point, John Atta Mills has already moved into second gear with a campaign team in place to start the ground battle. A planned trip to the UK over the weekend has been shelved, and according to the Get Atta Mills Elected (GAME) group, their man will formally launch his campaign before the end of this month.
The Draft Spio Garbrah Movement which has been preparing the grounds for the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation boss has concentrated their activities so far on promoting the qualities of their candidate. It is not immediately known when he will move camp from his London base, but our information is that contrary to some reports, Mr. Spio Garbrah has no plans of abandoning his dream.
Edward Annan, a long time friend of Professor Mills and also an acquaintance of party founder's wife Nana Konadu is easily the most travelled among the candidates, having moved from region to region and seizing every opportunity to meet with regional and constituency executives who will be casting the votes at the December congress.
The oldest among the candidates Iddrisu Mahama has long harboured presidential ambitions and is making a shot at it finally. Very little has been heard about his plans apart from a selective meeting with some journalists at an unknown location, but sources say he has a solid support base especially in the three Northern regions.
It is still not known whether Mr. Bagbin is serious about joining the contest, but his entry will split votes especially from within parliament and the youth with John Mahama.