Early yesterday when he was declared the flag bearer-elect of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Dramani Mahama made a passionate appeal to the rank and file of the party to trust one another and work together to return the party to power in 2020.
Mr Mahama garnered an overwhelming 213,487 votes, representing 95.23 per cent of the 224,184 total valid votes cast, to beat six other presidential aspirants who managed an aggregate of 4.77 per cent of the votes.
Many political pundits had predicted victory for Mr Mahama but were not sure if he could maintain the 90 per cent margin he had in the 2012 and the 2016 primaries when he stood unopposed.
And so the 95.23 per cent thrashing came as a shock to many political watchers, including Mr Mahama himself, who said he was “humbled by the overwhelming endorsement”.
The huge margin of victory reflected the views of the delegates, who had indicated that Mr Mahama was the preferred candidate to wrest power from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2020 elections.
Their argument was that the NDC was campaigning on Mr Mahama’s legacy and achievements and so he needed to be given the nod to lead the party to victory in 2020 and complete his unfinished work.
Declaring the results about 12.20 a.m. yesterday, the Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Kofi Asumaning, said Prof. Joshua Alabi, who came second, garnered 3,404 votes, representing 1.52 per cent, with the third position going to Mr Alban S.K. Bagbin, who had 2,301 votes, representing 1.03 per cent.
Mr Goosie Tanoh, who emerged fourth, secured 2,091 votes, accounting for 0.93 per cent, while Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah had 1,447 votes, representing 0.65 per cent, to come fifth, with Mr Sylvester Mensah getting 934 votes, representing 0.42 per cent.
Alhaji Nurideen Iddrisu took the seventh position with 520 votes, representing 0.23 per cent of the votes.
Spontaneous jubilation by party executives and members who had gathered in the conference room of the NDC followed the declaration of the results.
They sang and danced to the popular gospel song: “Eda JM beba, Nana wobete bobolebobo”, literally meaning: “The day John Mahama will come, Nana (the President) will be shocked.”
Mr Mahama, who arrived at the party headquarters at Adabraka at 11.23 p.m. last Saturday with some party stalwarts, was all smiles as the supporters celebrated his victory.
‘Let’s work together’
When Mr Mahama mounted the podium to deliver his acceptance speech, he described the overwhelming victory as “victory for all”.
He appealed to the rank and file of the party, particularly the six other aspirants in the presidential primary, to resist every attempt to divide their ranks to enable the party to achieve victory in the 2020 elections.
“I wish to assure all the six aspirants and the executives that I will work closely and tirelessly with all of you, so that our common objective of turning our party back into power will be achieved,” he stated.
Mr Mahama urged the party members to beware of infiltrators who would want to sow seeds of discord among them.
“It is my hope that in the current environment, we will work together and eschew all attempts to swdivide us because in the business of politics, you know what happens.
“Let us be one, trust one another and let us not believe the kinds of stories that will be circulated, creating an impression that one is trying to undermine another; once we build this trust, I am sure that we will be successful. Our party has spoken with one voice and I must say we are all the winners.,” he said.
Call to duty and action
Mr Mahama said in his campaign for the party’s presidential slot, he was impressed with “a new fire and determination”, with all the party executives ready to work hard towards returning the party to power in 2020.
He said his wish was that the fire would keep on burning, adding: “Our journey towards victory in the 2020 general election begins today. It marks the beginning of a process where we wish to work together to bring truth and honesty back into our political discourse.”
Mr Mahama said he was deeply touched by the overwhelming endorsement he had received from the grass-roots members of the party, describing it as “a call to duty, a call to action and a call to battle”.
He thanked all the six presidential aspirants for putting up a good fight which, he said, had “helped to energise the base of our party”.
“Their participation in this contest has exhibited that our party is the most democratic, peaceful, transparent and dynamic in Ghana’s democracy today,” the former President said.
The flag bearer-elect also thanked the party’s Election Committee, the EC and the media for contributing enormously to the success of the election.
He particularly commended the police for the role they played in ensuring law and order during the polls, saying: “I believe that with the guarantee of our trust and confidence, the police can rise to the occasion as they have shown today and ensure security for our democratic processes into the future.”
“Today has been a test and I believe that most will agree that the Ghana Police Service performed creditably. It is our hope that we can collaborate with the service into the future to ensure that future elections are as successful as our presidential primary,” he added.
Reorganisation of NDC
Mr Mahama pointed out that when the results of the presidential primary were declared, he officially received phone calls of congratulations from “all my six fellow aspirants”.
Describing the successful outcome of the election as the great climax of the reorganisation of the NDC after the 2016 general election, he said the overwhelming endorsement was a signal that “our efforts over the last two years have not been in vain”.
He stated that following the party’s loss in the 2016 general election, the Kwesi Botchwey Committee was set up to explore the reasons for the defeat.
Based on the committee’s report, he said, the party started a re-registration of all its members at the branch level and began the arduous task of reorganisation from the branch, constituency, regional and national levels.
“This presidential primary is the climax of that reorganisation effort. We have had a rigorous process and we have had to exercise patience for it because in order to get it right we needed to be patient and make sure that we cover every stone and make sure that we do not leave any portion uncovered.
“I must say it has been a fulfilling journey and our patience has bore fruit,” he said, and gave an assurance to work closely with all party executives to allow the NDC to win power in 2020.
For his part, the NDC National Chairman, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said the overwhelming endorsement of Mr Mahama was a reflection of the view of many Ghanaians that they wanted Mr Mahama to come back to power to fix the current challenges.
The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, commended members of the party for their comportment and lauded the police for the excellent provision of security for the election.