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Opinion | Oct 7, 2015

Who Partners Mahama For 2016 Battle?

By Kafui Gale-Zoyiku
Who Partners Mahama For 2016 Battle?

As the ruling National Democratic Congress, NDC, gets set for its primaries in November this year, one issue that has engaged the attention of political pundits and party insiders is that of President John Dramani Mahama’s running mate in the 2016 elections.

Many names have been pulled from the hat as possible running mates for Mahama. These names include that of current Minister of Trade and Industries, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Foreign Affairs Minister and also a Member of Parliament for Ewutu-Senya West Ms. Hannah Serwaa Tetteh and Augustus Goosie Tanoh. Each of these gentlemen and lady all come with their pluses with the dial tilted heavily in Tanoh’s direction. What the party insiders are seriously thinking about is someone who has strong links to the grassroots where the NDC draws its strength from.

In Spio-Gabrah, they can see a strong person who has the capability to work the crowd at any outdoor political rally, an essentiality in political campaigning. However what stand against him is the diatribes he launched against then President Mills describing first set of appointed ministers as ‘Team B’ players and they therefore must be changed. At that time, Spio-Garbrah, with a vast experience not only in politics but in the international arena as well having worked with the African Development Bank, AfDB, among others and later as ambassador was seen as gatecrashing himself into the corridors of power.

Though eventually he got a ministerial appointment, those comments have not gone down well with many in the party who see him as a renegade who must be watched closely as some even view him suspiciously on the basis of his alleged chummy-chummy relationship with Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings who has also not given up her own inordinate presidential ambitions.

Another set of party supporters also see the Trade Minister as haughty as against the calm demeanor of Mahama who they see as very approachable and down to earth, a posture that the NDC leadership since the party’s formation has adopted to endear itself to the rural voters where the party draws its greatest strength from.

Others however feel that though Spio-Garbrah is a charming person, his outlook is directly opposite that of Mahama who has the Mills touch of being on the same page with the common people who have consistently voted for the party in its pursuit of fulfilling its social democratic manifesto agenda which tends to favour the rural majority especially in the provision of social amenities.

They therefore feel bringing the trade minister as Mahama’s running mate might overshadow the president and create a conflict of interest situation in government as the party leadership recounts the acrimonious relationship that existed between Rawlings and his one-time vice president John Ackaah, now late.

The Awutu-Senya West MP, Tetteh has everything going for her having been a parliamentarian who once lost her seat and came back to win it again. In addition, she was the campaign manager for Mills and everyone thought she would have ended up as chief of staff in the Mills Administration which unfortunately she did not get but has acquitted herself first as trade minister but currently is the foreign affairs minister, a job she has done to the admiration to all.

But is Ghana ready for a female president a question the party hawks have pondered over as 2016 draws closer.

A lawyer by profession who has also worked in the private sector and therefore understands the inner workings of industry and therefore in a position to court them to follow the government’s agenda of making the private sector the engine of growth. Despite her closeness to Mahama, she still has an uphill task to convince the party’s followers that Ghana is ready for a female president in 2020 as she stands the chance of being the presidential candidate in that year.

The fact that she has filed to contest the primaries in retaining her parliamentary seat is an indication that she is not interested in being the next in line after Mahama though she can change her mind and relinquish that ambition before 2016 when parliamentarians and those interested in the top job are expected to file and seek the people’s mandate.

However, there is a name which the party hierarchy has been quiet about, that name is only mentioned in the dark corners knowing that he has a huge following and the exact pedigree that the party needs to retain the presidency even after 2016.

Some however view him with suspicion though his haters will immediately affirm that he has the expertise and experience and enough grassroots support that can elongate the NDC’s grip on power.

They also accuse him of once abandoning the party to seek his personal interests which though could not be fulfilled also led to the failure of the party to cling to power in 2009. His name is Augustus ‘Goosie’ Tanoh and is well known to all as Goosie who is generally referred to as one of Ghana’s most prominent lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata’s boys; don’t mind that he is not a boy but a man who has proved his mettle.

Interestingly, he was taught by Tsikata in the law school and went on to work with him in the GNPC.

To remind all, he is a trained lawyer with both local and international experience especially in the oil and gas sector having worked with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC, the country’s third-largest company, which imported, refined on a tolling basis and distributed on a wholesale basis all petroleum products entering the country. He also played an important part in planning and executing government’s strategy for its oil exploration activities as he was the contract and principal tax negotiator for Petroleum Exploration Agreements with companies such as Amoco, Shell, Atlantic Richfield, and Unocal.

While at GNPC he supervised the corporation’s pioneering efforts to provide affordable public housing to its employees, using local material inputs, the project worth $26m was successfully completed resulting in 95% of the 1200 units being now in the ownership of the corporation’s employees.

Goosie was also part of the team that negotiated Ghana’s first syndicated loans: one for US$75 million in 1991 with Bankers Trust, and subsequently with ANZ Bank for US$110 million in 1992, with the proceeds of both loans going to GNPC going on to be a front-seat participant in the evolution of banking services in the West African region by virtue of his stint as director of the West African-owned bank ECOBANK Ghana Ltd. (1990-1992).

In public service, Mr. Tanoh has served as special assistant to the then Chairman of the PNDC, Rawlings and was appointed to the National Defence Committee where he was in charge of projects and programs working with worker and community organizations with a membership in excess of 2 million activists.

Between 1986 and 1989, he was nominated as Alternate Leader of the Ghana delegation to the United Nations Security Council and the UN General Assembly and as Ghana’s principal negotiator and a spokesperson for the Group of 77 on the Mining Code for the Law of the Sea. He has also participated in the Group of Experts Meeting preparatory to the World Environment Conference (Brazil) organized by the Aspen Institute in Colorado, USA.

When Ghanaians clamouresd for constitutional rule Mr. Tanoh became a member of the Consultative Assembly that drafted the 1992 Constitution as one of the representatives of the grassroots based Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, CDR.

As someone in touch with the grassroots, Mr. Tanoh was appointed chairman for the Forum For Sustainable Development which ultimately contributed to the formation and ultimate victory of the NDC in the 1992 and 1996 elections serving as the party’s secretary of the campaign committee for the victorious 1992 election.

However in 2000 he left the party and with other disaffected members formed the National Reform Party, NRP, and stood as their presidential candidate but lost.

As a business person, Goosie pioneered the export of cassava chips to Europe between 1994 and 2000. He never gave up and is distinguished as being among two Ghanaian companies that pioneered the export of groundnuts to the European market achieving total sales aggregated in excess of US$3.5 million.

For now he is the executive chairman of HML Marine, Power & Energy Limited energy advisory Group and also a Director of Saltpond Offshore Producing Company, SOPC, and Volta Aluminum Company Ltd. (VALCO).

In addition he is a founding member, and executive vice president of Organic Potash Corporation which is listed on the Canadian National Stock Exchange (CNSX) and Country Head of its subsidiary in Ghana known as GC Resources Limited a company engaged in the pioneering role of converting cocoa pod to industrial grade potassium carbonate for export using technology invented by a prominent Ghanaian scientist and engineer Dr Martin Woode.

What many have forgotten is that the controversy and inner workings of the NDC that forced Goosie and co including Kyeretwie Opoku, Peter Kpordugbe out of the party to form their own have been resolved as one of the principles they stood for was democratization of the NDC which meant the party chairman becomes the leader when in opposition but when there is a flagbearer the latter automatically heads the party. These have been accepted. Late president Mills having understood their position especially in the light of the Swedru Declaration whereby Rawlings unanimously chose Mills to be his successor have been achieved.

This meant that everyone who aspires to be the presidential candidate must go through the primaries which determines the popularity of the candidate and ensures that the acrimony and backbiting which has afflicted the opposition parties does not affect the NDC. That is how far he could see into the future and that stance has created the present college electoral system which says that ordinary card carrying members of the party must have a say in the nomination of both members of parliament and the president to prevent the usual ‘I’m going independent’ that has been the bane of the various political parties.

With deep roots in the party’s formation, will Goosie be on the ballot paper with Mahama come next year. Only John Dramani Mahama can tell who partners him though our sources say Goosie is the one since age and his association with the formation of the party are great pluses for him because with Mahama doing four more years, there should be someone young enough to take the mantle. What does Mahama say?

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