The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) goes to the polls today to elect its flag bearer for the 2020 presidential election.
Seven bigwigs, the highest in the party’s history, are slugging it out in the nationwide contest which will be conducted in all the 275 constituencies, and at the party’s headquarters in Accra from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
However, in areas where there is curfew, such as Bunkpurugu, Saboba, Chereponi and in Jaman South where eight communities are observing the curfew, the polls will close at 3 p.m.
After a long period, the NDC is ready for the contest as the seven party stalwarts, namely Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Sumani K. Bagbin, businessman Alhaji Nurideen Iddrisu, former President John Dramani Mahama, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Mr Sylvester Adinam Mensah (Sly); former Trade Minister, Ekwow Mr Spio-Garbrah; Mr Augustus Goosie Tanoh and former Vice Chancellor of University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Prof. Joshua Alabi, have been nominated and vetted to contest the crucial poll as the Notice of Poll indicates.
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One of the seven candidates will emerge winner at the end of the day and become the standard bearer of the NDC for the 2020 presidential election.
The winner will, therefore, contest with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), even though the ruling NPP is yet to choose its presidential candidate and aspirants of the other political parties.
The last time the NDC went into a competitive presidential election was in 2006 when the party had four candidates.
They were the late former President John Evans Atta Mills, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Alhaji Iddrisu Mahama and Eddie Annan. In that election, Prof. Mills won with Mr Spio-Garbrah getting the second slot.
But today’s primary will be the first time former President Mahama, who is highly tipped to win, is facing internal competition to become the flag bearer of the NDC.
If he succeeds based on the ground swell of support, he will become the first former President under the Fourth Republican dispensation to be seeking to reclaim the power he lost to current President Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2016 election.
Mr Mahama, then Vice President, became President in July 2012 when the sitting President, J.E.A. Mills, died. He became the flag bearer of the NDC at the 2012 polls and won but lost eventually at the 2016 polls.
In both the 2012 and 2016 elections, Mr Mahama went unopposed and for that matter was endorsed by the party as he had no challenger.
In the 2015 NDC presidential election, for instance, Mr Mahama was retained by the NDC to contest the presidential election in 2016 with a massive 95.10 per cent endorsement.
The former President, who contested unopposed in the presidential primary, polled 1,199,118 ‘Yes’ votes as against 61,836 ‘No’ votes, representing 4.90 per cent.
But in the 2012 Special National Delegates Congress in Kumasi, the NDC endorsed President Mahama as the party’s 2012 presidential candidate.
Mr Mahama, the sole candidate of the party, polled 2,767 votes, representing 99.5 per cent of valid votes cast, to pick the slot for the party.
In both the 2016 and 2012 NDC internal polls, Mr Mahama garnered an average of 96 per cent of valid votes cast.
Political observers are keenly looking for the margins of vote the former President will receive in today’s election.
Already, the camp of the former President is very upbeat and is expecting a convincing and overwhelming endorsement of not less than 90 per cent of the votes.
But the six other flag bearer aspirants have described that target as “setting him up for failure” since they contend that the former President cannot garner that high vote margin in today’s polls.
Overhaul of party
The six candidates are of the view that with the reorganisation of the party from the branch, regional and national levels, there should be an overhaul of party structures with virtually new faces taking over the helm of affairs.
If this is a signal of a thirst or hunger for change in the party, then today’s presidential primary will be the litmus test.
While Mr Goosie Tanoh and Mr Sylvester Mensah are counting on the grass-roots membership of the party, Prof. Alabi is also hoping to garner support from delegates from the North and Greater Accra. Alhaji Iddrisu on the other hand is hoping that his youthfulness will count in the election.
Mr Bagbin and Mr Ekow Spio-Garbrah are counting on their rich experience in politics to make a headway in the election.
Going into the 2020 polls, the six candidates believe the NDC needs a neutral and unifying personality other than Mr Mahama.
However, even though the party is ready, with all logistics in place in the nationwide exercise, the key challenge facing the party is getting the almost 281,000 delegates to the constituency centres to cast their votes.
This is because, some of the party branches are 50 km or more away from the polling centres.
About 281,000 delegates across the country are expected to cast their votes in the crucial decision-making exercise.
The delegates comprise nine executive members from each branch (polling station), 28 constituency executive, regional and national executive, as well as former government appointees, including Metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) and Members of Parliament (MPs).
Delegates from the foreign branches will be voting at the party’s headquarters in Accra, while all other delegates will vote in their various constituencies.
However, delegates from Benin, Togo and Nigeria will vote at Aflao in the Ketu South Constituency while those from Cote d’Ivoire will cast their votes at Elubo in the Jomoro Constituency.
Every candidate, per the guidelines regulating the conduct of the election, is entitled to three polling agents accreditation; which means that no polling station will be allowed to mount more than three polling units.
The election process will be supervised by the Electoral Commission (EC) and supported by the election directorate of the constituency and constituency executive of the NDC.
There will also be a national EC collation centre, and the NDC will also have its own collation centre to use as a check on what the EC is collating.
Sharing some further highlights, the Deputy General Secretary of the party, Mr Peter Boamah Otukonor, said the party had lived to expectation in providing a free and fair level playing field.
He said the process was guided by the principle of transparency and was optimistic that the true will of the delegates would prevail after the election such that whoever would emerge would present a potent force in 2020.
Mr Bagbin, who wants delegates to be guided by their inner voices, vote according to their conscience and do what is right for the NDC to win the 2020 election, is the Second Deputy Speaker and the longest serving MP in the Fourth Republic.
He was a Minister of Health in the Mills administration and also the MP for Nadowli West in the Upper West Region.
Mr Bagbin announced his intention to run for President in 2008 on the NDC ticket, but he never stood for the primary. He became the Majority Leader in 2009.
Following a cabinet reshuffle in January 2010, he was appointed Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing by President Mills.
He was also confirmed as Majority Leader of Parliament in President Mahama's administration.
Alhaji Nurideen Iddrisu
Alhaji Nurideen Iddrisu, who has bemoaned the monetisation of politics in the country and called on delegates of the party to choose competence and commitment over money and material gains, is an ex-banker and a consultant in oil and gas.
He is an activist of the NDC and has supported numerous party activities, including financially supporting the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, as well as mounting the party's campaign platforms to sell the message of the party across the length and breadth of the country.
Born in 1975, Alhaji Iddrisu had his basic education at the T. I. Ahmadiyya Primary School between 1981 and 1987 after which he proceeded to the Achimota School in Accra for his Ordinary Level education from 1988 to 1993.
He obtained a BSc. Administration in Marketing from the University of Ghana, Legon, in 2003 and later an MBA in Finance from the same institution in 2011.
He has vast experience in the Petroleum Industry. As a Business Development Manager, he worked with Oando Supply & Trading, importing both crude and refined petroleum products into Ghana.
After several years of experience in business and politics, Alhaji Iddrisu is now ready to bear the flag of the NDC party.
John Dramani Mahama
John Dramani Mahama, born November 29, 1958, served as President of Ghana from July 24, 2012 to January 7, 2017. He previously served as Vice-President of Ghana from 2009 to 2012, and took office as President on July 24, 2012 following the death of President John Atta Mills.
Mr Mahama is a communication expert, historian and a writer. He was an MP from 1997 to 2009 and Minister of Communications from 1998 to 2001.
He is the first Vice-President to have ascended the presidency following the death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills, and is the first head of state of Ghana to have been born after Ghana's independence.
He was elected to serve a full term as President in the December 2012 election. He contested re-election for a second term in the 2016 election, but was defeated in the first round by the NPP candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, whom he had defeated in 2012.
Mr Sylvester Mensah served a full term in Parliament for the Dadekotopon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region from 1997 to 2001. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority from 2009 to 2015.
Sylvester Mensah is a member of the NDC with his roots as a foot soldier during the revolutionary period. He was the first Greater Accra Regional Youth Organiser of the NDC in 1992. He became the party’s Regional Secretary in 1994 through to 2001.
He contested for the party’s General Secretary in 2005 and lost to General Mosquito – Mr Asiedu Nketia.
He is currently a member of the Council of Elders of the party in the Greater Accra Region and the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the party in the region. In the last elections, he was the Regional Campaign Coordinator.
Mr Spio-Garbrah, who is of the view that it is time for the country to elect selfless and servant leaders if the well-being of Ghanaians is to be safeguarded, secured and more fulfilling, was born in 1953.
As a diplomat and politician, he was a former Minister of Trade and Industry, former Minister of Communications, former Minister of Education and a former acting Minister of Mines and Energy.
He also previously served as Ghana's Ambassador to the United States and Mexico. He is a former CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) based in London.
In December 2006, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah contested the leadership of Ghana's main opposition party, securing 8.7 per cent of the votes, he came second to John Atta Mills, who subsequently won Ghana's 2008 presidential election.
On January 15, 2010, Mr Spio-Garbrah was elected a Vice Chairman of the NDC, and subsequently named Director of the Communications directorate of the party.
Augustus "Goosie" Obuadum Tanoh (born February 7, 1956) is a politician and international businessman who has served in both public and private sectors in Ghana.
He was the leader of the National Reform Party (NRP), a breakaway group from the NDC between 1999 and 2007, and represented this party in the 2000 presidential election, where he garnered 1.1 per cent of the national vote.
He returned to the NDC with his colleagues from the NRP at the behest and upon several appeals made by the late President Atta Mills in 2007/2008. Mr Tanoh is originally a founding member of the NDC.
Prof. Joshua Alabi, who is calling for a change in direction and a new lease of life for the NDC in its forward march to win the 2020 polls, is hoping his experience in youth leadership, national governance, political party leadership, sports and educational management will come to bear when he is given the opportunity to serve the NDC in the capacity of a flag bearer and go further to lead the governance process of the country.
Mr Alabi (born March 1, 1958) is a Russia-trained Ghanaian academic and politician who served as the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) from 2012 to 2016.
He previously served as the Rector of the same institution from 2009 to 2012 and Pro-Rector from 2005 to 2008. In Ghanaian politics, Mr Alabi was the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for the Krowor Constituency in the Greater Accra Region from 1997 to 2001 and Minister of State for the Greater Accra and the Northern regions respectively from 1997 to 2001.
Mr Alabi is a member of the National Democratic Congress. He led the party’s reorganisation in the Greater Accra Region in 2001 after the party lost the 2000 elections to the NPP.
After the reorganisation, he became the first former minister of the party to contest and won as the Regional Chairman of the NDC in the Greater Accra Region from 2001 to 2005.