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03.10.2004 Feature Article

The Veepstakes And The Winning Ticket

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The decision by both the President Kufuor and Professor Atta-Mills campaigns to announce their vice-presidential candidates for the December elections for my money takes the cake as the most significant story of the past week. Against strong pressure from party stalwarts to dump Vice President Aliu Mahama, President Kufuor gave his vice a massive vote of confidence, while the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) parted company with the “shadow vice President” the Honorable Martin Amidu and opted for high flying lawyer and Kumbungu MP, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni. THE TALE OF THE TAPE Vice President Aliu Mahama is the old face in this election (sort of), has garnered almost four years of hands-on experience being the sitting Vice President and has during this period enhanced his profile as one who has seen it all at this level.

He makes up in what he lacks in public speaking and oratory with a debonair personality that resonates well with the public. It is widely believed that some hawks in the NPP were making a strong pitch for his replacement. Bottom-line? They see him as the heir-apparent without a clear political base the party could benefit from.

Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni is certainly a rising star in contemporary Ghanaian politics.

He is said to have scored quite high marks on the cards of the judges who were “consulted” by Professor Atta-Mills. Others in the race included John Mahama, MP for Bole and former Communications Minister and Mohammed Idris. Alhaji Mumuni is a suave politician, media savvy, an academic and among his many qualities is his ability to articulate views on a wide range of national issues.

His conscription into the cabinet of the previous NDC administration in its twilight years set him up in terms of experience for a career in public service.

Being the fresh face in this years race for the Castle, Mumuni stands the advantage of outshining his opponent just like his opponent did in the last general election. Unfortunately in a country where Presidential debates are not openly encouraged by the major parties for one intellectually shallow reason or the other Ghanaian voters would not have the opportunity to watch these two contenders tear at each other for the second highest office of the land. A LESSON IN HISTRIONICS OR HISTORY? The selection of these two individuals is most significant because traditionally and also as a rule of thump vice presidential candidates have always been chosen on the sole basis of what they can potentially bring to the ticket. Some are chosen because of the size of their pockets and their ability to raise money for the campaign. Others are chosen to appeal to a certain group of voters whose votes are considered crucial in the scheme of things.

Another consideration for picking a vice presidential candidate is informed by the political and geographical constituency the prospective candidate represents.

The political constituency in simple terms is the worth placed on the candidate in terms of the support and amount of votes they can deliver to the tickets. In other words it demonstrates their value in the political scheme of things. This trend is well crystallized in the support former President Jerry Rawlings enjoys among the cadres, that is the ACDR's and basically the radical wing of the NDC. They are the quintessential doppelgangers or soul mates if you like.

President Rawlings is never quite in his element when these people are not around. That is why you see the sanitized side of the former President at formal functions where demands of protocol impose the need for him to act in a dignified manner.

The geographical constituency is the area the candidate originates or comes from.

It is quite difficult to access the political constituency of Professor Atta-Mills. He lost all the Southern and Akan dominated areas in the 2000 elections. While President Kufuor won in the Akan dominated areas he lost in the three northern regions even though his vice-presidential candidate hails from the north.

The decision by both sides to opt for northern Muslims does not come as a surprise to most political commentators and students of contemporary Ghanaian politics.

It has always been the tradition of most of the major parties to pick a vice presidential candidate from the northern parts of Ghana especially if the Presidential candidate is Akan. This candidate must either be a northerner or a northern Muslim and for years this has been the status quo.

While the practice has over the years been derided as a political stunt by the major political parties to win over the northern vote many have also argued that it has also become a quintessential tool for the achievement of national cohesion and unity.

The list of people who have always been penciled in for the Vice Presidential slot predating 1992 and after have in most cases fit the above criterion. The only exception was in 1992 and 1996 when the NDC fielded two southern-based candidates on the Presidential ticket in the persons of Kow Nkensen Arkaah and John Evans Atta-Mills. The NPP however chose a northern Muslim to partner Professor Albert Adu Boahen in the 1992 elections and lost as the book “The Stolen Verdict” avers.

There are those who strongly believe the NDC lost the 2000 elections because they fielded a northerner and not a northern Muslim.

Mr. Martin Amidu is a Christian from the north. In the thinking of these pundits the decision to pair two Christians in a national election placed the NDC in a comparative disadvantage juxtaposed against the Christian/Muslim ticket of the NPP.

In a move to perhaps undo the mistakes of four years, the NDC flag bearer picked a northern Muslim, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni over a northern Christian John Mahama who was the obvious front runner in the race.

By choosing to retain Vice President Aliu Mahama on the ticket for the “04 election, President Kufuor has re-enkindled a tradition of the NPP, which failed to guarantee an electoral victory in 1992 but later earned dividends eight years later in the 2000 elections.

For those in the NPP who had supported a change on the ticket, President Kufuor would argue that his ticket is a winning ticket and like they say “don't change a winning team midstream.” The NDC has picked a dream ticket and if my opinion matters I make bold to say it is the team to beat-not in substance but in form. By all intents and purposes it appears both parties have done their home work well and the rest would be determined by the thump of 10 million eligible voters. Let your vote count. More Anon. By Paa Kwesi Plange For Gye Nyame Concord and paakwesiplange.com Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Paa Kwesi Plange
Paa Kwesi Plange, © 2004

The author has 46 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: PaaKwesiPlange

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