Contrary to the simplified notion that choosing a running mate is solely the decision of the Presidential Candidate, the reality is far more intricate.
The NPP’s constitution, specifically Article 12(b), delineates the criteria for selecting a running mate, emphasizing Ghanaian citizenship and party membership. The nomination of the Vice Presidential Candidate is a collaborative effort between the presidential candidate and the National Council.
Conventionally, the presidential candidate presents their choice to the National Council, currently overseen by Hackman Owusu-Agyemang.
The candidate must also justify their selection before the National Executive Committee, a pivotal force in the campaign.
If the National Council rejects the proposal, the candidate is compelled to choose an alternative, with the National Council holding the authority to approve or disapprove running mate nominations.
Preventing potential party division is a paramount consideration, and consensus-building precedes these crucial decisions. A historical example is from 2008 when Akufo Addo’s proposal of Hajia Alui Mahama was rejected by the National Council, including John Agyekum Kufour. Subsequently, Bawumia was suggested by the National Council, highlighting the importance of achieving a balance between a technocrat and a career politician.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
To be eligible for the position of Vice Presidential Candidate in the NPP, an individual must have actively participated as a party member for a minimum of five years and be nominated twelve months before general elections in situations where the party is not in government or the incumbent president is not the candidate. The National Council retains the authority to waive this requirement under special circumstances. Additionally, the nominee must fulfill the age and citizenship criteria specified in Article 62 of the 1992 Constitution, mandating that the Vice President must be a Ghanaian and aged 40 or older.
Historically, a North-South/South-North pattern has been evident in winning political power throughout the Fourth Republic. Apart from the Jerry-John Rawlings –Arkaah-Atta Mills duo in 1992 and 1996, presidential aspirants and their running mates have not exclusively hailed from a single geographical block.
Political scientist Dr. Kwame Asah-Asante has therefore advised Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the NPP’s flagbearer, to strategically select a running mate from the Ashanti region.
“If you look at this, we have started hearing arguments and conversation about the fact that it will be given to somebody from the Ashanti region – I support that call… For the Ashanti region, the mainstay of the NPP, if you pick a running mate from that place it’s good. But the issue is that the criteria people are talking about, even though I have not heard from the party because I know this decision ought to come from NEC and National Council with the support of the candidate concerned, so it’s not a very simple matter.”Dr. Kwame Asah-Asante
Bawumia Must Search Manhyia’s Stool Room
“Multiple names have surfaced in the media regarding the selection process. However, the final decision rests with the National Executive Committee and the National Council.
The Ashanti region, boasting a substantial voter base, is deemed pivotal for the NPP’s success. In the 2020 election, out of the total 17,029,971 valid voters on the Ghanaian register, the Ashanti Region accounted for 3,529,181 voters, second only to the region with 3,020,141 voters. Safeguarding the bandwagon effect of party loyalty in the Ashanti region is considered crucial for the NPP.
Napo(right) and Bawumia(left)
Dr. Arthur Kennedy’s book, “Chasing the Elephant into the Bush,” highlights that approximately half a million NPP voters in the Ashanti region refrained from voting in the 2008 election due to the absence of an Ashanti candidate. Considering Alan’s influence, leaving Ashanti without representation on the 2024 ballot poses an unimaginable threat to the NPP in the Ashanti region, risking potential losses.
Moreover, many analysts argue that to sustain the NPP’s dominance in Ashanti, selecting a running mate from Manhyia is crucial. Manhyia symbolizes the seat of the Ashanti empire, and garnering support from the royal family is essential for achieving a higher voter turnout in Ashanti. Additionally, such a nomination is likely to secure the backing of the “Gentle Giant,” John Agyekum Kufour, who is also a member of the Ashanti royal family.
Therefore, exploring the potential candidates within the rich heritage of Manhyia remains the NPP’s sole option.
The ongoing lobbying involves several names, including Opoku Prempeh, Adutwum, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Frema Opare, and Ursula Owusu, among others. Opoku Prempeh, being a son of the stool, is particularly favored for the role due to his perceived ability to secure the Ashanti vote. His constituency, Manhyia South, demonstrated strong support for Bawumia by voting 85.5% in his favor.
However, the decision must also take into account the choice of the National Democratic Congress’ John Mahama. Many analysts speculate that Mahama intends to retain his 2020 running mate, Jane Nana Opoku Agyemang, as the pair has made numerous joint appearances at events.
The complexities are manifold, necessitating the Presidential Candidate to prioritize qualities such as complementarity, loyalty, and minimal baggage in selecting a candidate who can deliver electoral victory in 2024, and nothing else!