Challenges Before John Mahama
The electoral environment has changed with the nomination of the Member of Parliament for Bole Bamboi, John Dramani Mahama, 50, as the running mate of National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag bearer, Professor John Evans Atta-Mills.
John's nomination by Prof. Mills and the acceptance against all odds by the National Executive Committee of the NDC is being touted as proof that Prof. Mills is his own man.
This was against the clarion choice of the founder of the party, Jerry Rawlings, and his wife, the Mills-Betty Mould Iddrisu ticket.
Some have argued that the political brouhaha that emerged before, during and after John's nomination shows that within the NDC ranks are some who are able to take independent decisions and live with it, no matter the dire consequences. Indeed, it is further argued that the NDC is steadily but firmly moving away from the inordinate control of one person or group of persons.
In finding a way out of all this political jigsaw, one may ponder to ask what John's ticket really brings to NDC and its campaign to wrest power from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December general elections.
Already, the NDC founding father, Jerry Rawlings, who thinks Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, Director of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, could have given the NDC a landslide victory in the elections, has disclosed that John Mahama's image cannot rise further and the NDC has to work to repair the damage that has been done.
Whatever that means, one thing is clear, and that is that not everybody is happy with Mills' choice. John Mahama's negatives probably are being generated from his own NDC camp.
He is blamed by some for his lack of commitment because at one stage he hinted he was leaving the country to go and pursue higher academic laurels abroad at a time his party was in an election battle and needed him to stay put.
Some have also questioned his lack of political courage and militancy. He is soft in character and has been criticised for indecision. Questions have also been raised about his morals.
Against these backdrop, however, John brings to the NDC ticket a certain degree of political decency in partnering Mills; the two could form an attractive weighty pair to contest and win election 2008.
John, no doubt, is not a political novice and has an excellent human relations track record that cuts across the political divide. He hardly goofs in terms of public political discourse.
For his looks, he has a smart turn-out, and is sharp, intelligent, affable and a gentleman, who has wormed his heart into the Ghanaian media.
So far, John represents a refreshing reinvigorating face in the NDC and has already pledged his commitment to the principles of truth and honesty, and would rise above partisanship and make national issues an overriding concern.
Many political analysts do not expect the Mills and Mahama ticket to play the cards of insults during the campaign.
It is also expected that they will focus on real hard national issues and how they would move the nation forward in terms of socio-economic and political developments. This is what makes their ticket look good because Ghanaians will have the opportunity to be informed on national issues and ultimately make informed choices.
The NDC ticket is complete and both Mills and Mahama strive to inject efficiency into the party's campaign activities, NDC politics must not be seen to be murky. This is what the personality and credentials of the Mills-Mahama ticket must bring to bear.
The NDC also needs the the Rawlingses in the campaign and the Rawlingses must not be made to feel slighted because their annointed choice was rejected by Mills.
They must at all cost come around and stick together to help the party go into election 2008 much more united.
Jerry Rawlings may be charismatic, popular and has a constituency but he is not the one running for election and must play a supporting role, if NDC is to make an impact.
The NDC should not work to undermine their own ticket; they must be interested in seeing the party become more relevant in the national affairs of the country.
Now that the choice is firmly made, caution must be taken so that within the NDC they do not work to destroy themselves. The self-destruction syndrome, smear campaigns and violent behaviours must be avoided at all cost.
I congratulate John on his elevation as the running mate of Prof. Mills. Henceforth, he will be keenly watched and his actions critically scrutinised as he embarks on the steep journey to the vice-presidency of the land.
Article by Kobby Asmah