Jostling for Veep begins
By Emmanuel Akli
Less than 24 hours after he had been sworn in as President of Ghana, President John Dramani Mahama has held his first Cabinet meeting at the Osu Castle, where a number of issues were discussed yesterday.
Sources at the Castle told The Chronicle that President John Mahama, a Methodist, followed the foot steps of his predecessor, John Mills, by leading the Cabinet members in serious prayers before settling down for serious discussions.
Details of what transpired at the meeting, which was attended by almost all the Cabinet Ministers and some of the party bigwigs are very sketchy, but The Chronicle gathered that among the issues discussed were the appointment of a new Vice President and the sudden death of former President Mills among others, which bothered on the governance of the country.
In the case of the Vice President position, no firm decision has been taken yet, but The Chronicle gathered that the candidate would definitely be coming from Central Region to help sustain the support base of the party in both Central and Western Regions.
As a result, jostling for the position has already started. Among the names that have come up are Madam Hanna Tetteh, former Member of Parliament for Awutu-Senya, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Spio Garbrah, former Minister of Communication in the Rawlings’ government and Dr. Kwesi Botchway, a former Minister of Finance, also under the Rawlings regime.
Underground information gathered by this reporter also indicated that the candidate nominated by the President for approval of Parliament to become the Vice President would be likely to become the running mate for President Mahama to contest the December elections.
This is the reason why both the President and party leaders are treading cautiously, before the new Vice President is named.
The NDC would soon call an emergency National Delegate Congress in accordance with article 22 of the party’s constitution. The said article reads: “The National Executive Committee may call a Special National Delegates Congress at such notice, place and date. A Special National Delegates Congress shall have the same representation and powers as the National Congress.”
There were initial reports that the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, who contested former President Mills in the presidential primary held in Sunyani last year, would become automatic presidential candidate of the party.
But that rumour has been ruled out as there are no provisions in the party’s constitution that allow the runner-up in the presidential primary to become the automatic candidate for the elections, in case the elected flagbearer dies, as it has happened now.
Should Hannah Tetteh, who is also the Minister of Trade and Industry, and said to be the front runner, be nominated as the Vice President, she would be the first Woman to hold that position in the political history of the country.
Connoisseurs, however, believe that the possible candidate born to a Hungarian mother and Ghanaian father does not have any strong foothold in the Central Region to rake in the necessary votes for the party in the December elections.
The next in line is Kwesi Ahwoi, who is from the Ahwois family. The Ahwois are from Agona in the Central Region and Sefwi in the Western Region. In fact, their mother hails from Agona Mankrong, whilst their father comes from Sefwi.
Kwesi should, therefore, be the right candidate for the position and also replace President Mills in the Central Region.
He, however, lost terribly when he contested the party’s parliamentary primary in the Agona East constituency. This has erased his chances of becoming the Vice President, since his own people have rejected him.
The onus, therefore, falls on Dr. Kwesi Botchway who also hails from the Central Region and Agona Asafo to be specific to take up the mantle, but as to whether he would accept it is another question.
Dr. Kwesi Botchway is the longest serving Finance Minister in the history of Ghana. In 2004, he contested President Mills for the NDC flagbearship and lost. Since then, he has not been playing front line role in the party. He is, however, a member of the departed President’s economic management team, drawing economic policies for the country.
Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the National Democratic congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketiah has announced that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party would meet today to decide the mode they would use to elect the new flagbearer for the party.
Speaking on Joy FM last night, ‘General Mosquito’, as he is popularly called, said the constitution of the party is silent on how they elect a new leader in circumstance such as what has happened constitution of the party. The said article which grants residual powers to NEC reads:, “Where on any Party matter there is no provision in this Constitution which deals with that matter, the National Executive Committee shall, by regulations, provide for that matter to be dealt with.” He also quoted the same constitution and argued that whenever a vacuum occurred at the national executive level, NEC would step in to fill the gap.
The late President Mills was a national executive member, therefore, NEC per the constitutional provision, could step in to fill the gap by endorsing in this case, President John Mahama, as the Presidential Candidate of the party.
Alternatively the party can also call an emergency congress as dictated by Article 22 to endorse a presidential candidate. The method to be adopted by the party would, however, be known by the close of work of today.
In a related development, President John Mahama has announced that he has instructed the Chief of Staff to get in touch with President Mills’ family to plan a befitting funeral for the former President.
He was speaking in a meeting with Former President Kufuor, Nana Akufo-Addo, the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who led the party’s delegation to extend their condolences to him, and also congratulate him over his new position as President of Ghana.
According to President John Mahama, he had received a number of calls from world leaders who wanted to know when the funeral would be organized. He mentioned these world leaders as President Barack Obama, Alhassan Quattara, Goodluck Jonathan and a host of others.
He, however, said the government alone could not organize the funeral and that is why he had instructed the Chief of Staff to contact the family on how to plan the whole funeral.
It was his hope that the death of his predecessor would help to unite and reduce political tension in the country.
President Kufuor on his part advised the new President to see himself as father of the nation but not to a particular group of people. According to Kufuor, the President might have ascended to the new position through a political party, but as soon as he takes his oath of office, he becomes the father for all Ghanaians.
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