The growth of Ghana’s democratic dispensation has led to critical scrutiny of people seeking the mandate of the electorates to form the government. Ghana’s 1992 constitution required the elected flagbearers of political parties to nominate a running mate or would-be vice president. It is often said the world over that, a Vice President is just a heartbeat away from becoming a President.
This was amply demonstrated in Ghana on 24th July, 2012 when H.E John Dramani Mahama who was Vice President then, got sworn in as President following the sudden demise of the venerable President H.E Professor John Evans Atta Mills (May He continue to rest peacefully in the bosom of the Almighty, Amen!) Indeed, Article 63 (1) (d) of Ghana’s constitution mandates Presidential Candidates to “designate a person to serve as Vice President” prior to a presidential election and that, no candidate stands qualified unless this constitutional provision is met. This places emphasis on the importance attached to the nomination of a Vice Presidential Candidate or Running Mate as is known in political circles.
Dictates of the Law
A certain false impression has been created by some people to the effect that a Vice Presidential Candidate should be someone from the background of Economics or Finance. Indeed, this false assertion has no basis in law. Not even the President is required to possess any specific background of academics. It is only conventional and not legally binding that, Vice Presidents over the period in the Fourth Republic have been given the task of chairing the Economic Management Team of their respective governments. There is no constitutional provisions mandating Vice Presidents to perform this task.
In fact, the only occasions the constitution mandates Vice Presidents to chair committees are found in Articles 201 (a), 206 (a) and 211(a) where the Vice President is required to chair the Police Service Council, the Prison Service Council and the Armed Forces Council. So, was the late Professor Evans Fifi Atta Mills, the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, former president John Dramani Mahama and current vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia a security expert?
A Vice President is at the beck and call of the President as stipulated in Article 60 (1) of the constitution. She or He can be assigned any duty by the President hence it is not a given that a Vice President must necessarily chair the Economic Management Team, it is at best only conventional and the final call rests with the President in choosing who becomes Chairperson of the Economic Management Team.
The 4th Republic
The 4th Republic continues to be the longest Republic in Ghana’s history. Twenty-Eight (28) years of this Republic has produced six (6) male Vice Presidents with the seventh (7th) most likely going to be a female following the nomination of the accomplished Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as running mate to H.E John Dramani Mahama for the 2020 election. The academic backgrounds of these distinguished personalities show that only two (2) out of the six (6) have backgrounds in Economics and Finance.
Indeed, Statistics and Economic data speak in favour of those without Economics or Finance backgrounds as heads of their respective Economic Management Team. For example, in 2011, Ghana recorded her highest economic growth rate of 14% under the able leadership H.E John Dramani Mahama as Vice President and Head of Economic Management Team. Under the same leadership, Ghana recorded the longest sustained single digit inflation for 33 months. It must be noted that, H.E John Dramani Mahama’s background is one of History and Communication and not Economics.
On the contrary Ghana’s current Vice President and Head of Economic Management Team is noted to have a strong background in Economics to the level of PhD. It is however sad to note that our economy is projected to grow by a paltry 0.9% in 2020 under his watch. There is therefore no positive correlation between performance and background in Economics as has been amply demonstrated in the above scenarios. If having a background in Economics was that important, why the need for an Economic Advisor to the Vice President as we currently have???
What to look out for in a Veep
Given our previous experiences, rather than someone with a background in Economics, the following should be the defining attributes and personality traits to look out for in a Vice-Presidential Candidate namely: Honesty, Integrity, Competence and the ability to exude Hope.
With the 2020 election in perspective, it is glaringly clear, the running mate of the NDC stands tall in the above attributes as compared to her NPP counterpart whose trust and confidence has weighed over the years following the abysmal performance of his government. The choice is obvious given the track records of the two in leadership positions and it is Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang for Vice President of Ghana.
In conclusion, the seemingly asserted order that, Vice President or Presidential Candidate must possess such Economic background is fallacious and further, an insult to other academia backgrounds. Understanding the needs of people and thereby drawing the needed and appropriate strategies to respond to such needs is basic across all courses of study at the Senior High School level.
Possessing such academic background like Economics without a positive corresponding performance in the function of Ghana is useless as having certificate of highest academic ladder and yet could not perform. Beyond the usual politics of trying outweigh one’s opponents, there must be some elements of honesty, integrity, competence, and hope for the future.