Written by Justin Tusoe

2024 is an election year in Ghana. The two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have …"> Written by Justin Tusoe

2024 is an election year in Ghana. The two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have …">

AEP

Election 2024: Who will partner Mahama and Bawumia as Running Mates?

Posted on  February 12, 2024 
Categories:  
 
 
Election 2024: Who will partner Mahama and Bawumia as Running Mates?

Written by Justin Tusoe

2024 is an election year in Ghana. The two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have already elected their flagbearers. This article provides insights into the potential running mates for former President John Mahama and Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and how that will impact the outcome of the 2024 general elections.

The NDC held its primaries on May 13, 2023, with former President John Mahama overwhelmingly endorsed as the flagbearer, securing nearly 99 per cent (98.9%) of valid votes cast.

Similarly, on November 4, 2023, the NPP conducted its primaries, which saw Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia win with 62.43% of valid votes, defeating his closest contender Kennedy Agyapong, who garnered 37.41%.

With the flagbearers now known, the conversation has shifted to their selection of running mates, a subject that has sparked anxiety and speculations, not only among supporters and sympathizers of the two major political parties but also among political watchers, the media, floating voters, and the general public alike.

But what is the actual impact of running mates on the electoral prospects of presidential candidates? To what extent does the selection of a running mate influence voter decisions in Ghana? Further, does choosing a running mate from a specific region guarantee victory for the party in that region?

The answers to these questions are varied, as evidenced by election results from recently held presidential elections. For instance, in 2016, Prof Issac Owusu (Report of Elections Study of 24 Swing Constituencies) investigated the impact of running mate selection on voter decisions across five regions (Greater Accra, Western, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Central), in which 51% of the respondents stated that the choice of a running mate did not affect their decision, while 42% acknowledged its influence.

Similarly, in 2020, a survey by iRIS Research Group across twelve regions in Ghana revealed that 25% believed the selection of a running mate could influence their vote, while 72% claimed it had no impact on their voting decision. These findings highlight some of the complex dynamics surrounding the influence of running mates in elections in Ghana.

Historical Choice of Running Mates for the NDC and NPP

Since the start of the Fourth Republic in 1992, the NDC and the NPP have strategically chosen running mates in a way to achieve a regional, ethnic, religious, and recently, gender balance, a necessary step to ensure inclusivity and attract voters from all voting blocs of the country.

The NDC

The NDC, since its formation in 1992, has always chosen its vice-presidential candidates from the Central Region, except in 2000, 2004 and 2008 when it selected Martin Amidu (Upper East Region), Mohammed Mumuni (Northern Region), and John Dramani Mahama (Northern Region) respectively.

Although the party has always chosen either the presidential candidate or the vice-presidential candidate from the Central Region in all elections since the 4th Republic, their victory in the region has been varied, winning four times (1992, 1996, 2008, 2012) and losing four times (2000, 2004, 2016, 2020). This shows that picking a candidate from a particular region may not necessarily guarantee victory for the party in that region.

If these statistics are anything to go by, then the NDC's strategy of including a candidate from the Central Region in every election since 1992 (with Arkaah in 1992, Atta Mills in 1996, Amissah-Arthur in 2012 and 2016, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang in 2020, and Professor Mills as flagbearer in 2000, 2004, and 2008) have not yielded the desired results, necessitating the need for the party to review its selection criteria for better electoral outcomes.

The graph below shows the performance of the NDC in the Central Region from 1996 to 2020. As shown in the graph, the performance of the NDC has not been stable.


Source: Author’s computation, data from Electoral Commission (EC)

The NPP

The NPP, however, except in 1996, has always chosen their running mates from the Northern Region, beginning with the late former Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama (2000 and 2004) and Dr Bawumia (2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020). This approach appears to be yielding results, with their vote share in the Northern Region and the entire northern part of the country, increasing steadily.

Although the electoral success of the party in the northern part of Ghana cannot be attributed solely to the impact of Dr Bawumia, one would agree that Dr Bawumia, in the lead to the 2016 elections, prosecuted a successful campaign against former president Mahama on economic management grounds. While the implementation of some of these economic policies he touted has turned out to be shambolic, one cannot underestimate the contribution of Dr Bawumia to the increasing share of the NPP performance in the northern part of Ghana and the electoral fortunes of the NPP.

The graph below shows the performance of the NPP in the Northern Region, from 1996 to 2020. The graph shows that the performance of the party in the Region has been rising steadily, from 38.9% in 1996 to 46.4% in 2020. This is quite impressive, given that the Northern Region, and for that matter the entire northern Ghana has historically been a stronghold of the NDC.

 

Source: Author’s computation, data from the Electoral Commission (EC)

Potential Choices for John Mahama and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

Even as the candidates prepare to announce their running mates, there are speculations in the media about the possible options.

With John Mahama and Dr Bawumia both from the northern part of the country, the likely expectations are that they will pick their running mates from the southern part of the country, a move which is necessary to strike a regional balance.

John Mahama

Even before Mahama settles on a running mate, there are already pressures mounting on him from various camps of the party to either retain or drop Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang.

Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, 72, was the running mate for former president Mahama in the 2020 election. She was also the Minister of Education from 2013 to 2016.

Currently, she is considered as one of the most likely running mates for former President Mahama. Proponents of her candidature argue that her distinguished educational and professional background appeal to floating voters and the middle class. Furthermore, having run alongside Mahama in 2020, she is already known and needs no extensive publicity. Finally, they contend that having her on the ticket suggests a bold step towards gender equity, as women make up 51% of the population. This, they argue, could attract female voters to vote for the NDC.

However, critics disagree with these assertions. They argue that Professor Opoku Agyemang failed to deliver the Central Region, her home region to the NDC in the 2020 elections. Some assert that she lacks the dynamism and the charisma that is needed to ignite new voter interest and mobilize support for victory. Some have also dismissed the gender card. They argue that her choice has very little influence on how most women vote in the elections. Citing 2020 as an example, they contend that the NDC played the gender card strongly but still lost the elections.

There are also speculations of other leading members of the NDC being considered for the position. These include Former Vice Chancellor of the UPSA and 2020 campaign Manager of the party Prof Joshua Alabi, Former Chief of Staff Julius Debrah, and former Minister of Trade and flagbearer hopeful Dr Ekow Spio-Gabrah.

The rest are Former Managing Director, of Tema Oil Refinery Kwame Awuah Darko and Former Minister of Agriculture Hon Eric Opoku.

Thus, the views as to whom Mahama selects as his running mate are wide and varied.

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

The NPP won the 2016 elections on economic grounds; however, with the current state of the economy – high deficits, inflation, slow growth, exchange rate depreciation, and interest rate hikes – there is no doubt that Ghanaians are going through very difficult times. Many pre-election surveys have predicted victory for the opposition NDC, on the back of the worsening economic conditions. With their flagbearer, Dr Bawumia from North East Region (a relatively small place in terms of voter population), the party would have to consult widely in the selection of its running mate, as any mistake could jeopardize their chances of winning the 2024 elections.

There appears to be some hope for the NPP, at least according to results from the eight elections in the 4th Republic. If the party can choose a formidable candidate from the Ashanti Region (the party’s stronghold and Ghana’s second most populous region), their mantra - “breaking the 8” could be possible.

 It is within this context, that leading members of the NPP are advocating for Dr Bawumia to choose his running mate from the Ashanti Region. They argue that if the person can deliver the Ashanti Region with at least 75% of the votes, the party will win the election. It will be recalled that in the first round of the 2008 elections, the NPP led the NDC, having won just two regions (Eastern and Ashanti) out of ten regions.

Among the names that are being speculated as potential partners for Bawumia include Energy Minister and MP for Manhyia South, Dr Mattew Opoku Prempeh; Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Hon Osei Kyei Mensa Bonsu; Minister for Education and MP for Bosomtwi, Dr Yaw Adutwum; First Deputy Speaker and MP for Bekwai, Joe Osei Owusu and Chief of Staff, Frema Opare.

Thus, the opinions on whom Dr Bawumia chooses as his running mate are wide and varied. Although Dr Bawumia has the power to nominate a running mate, the final decision or authority lies with the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the NDC strategy of always choosing a running mate or a presidential candidate from the Central Region (a swing region) seems not to have yielded much results. The party will need to re-examine its selection criteria and explore the option of choosing a candidate from another swing region, other than the Central Region, such as the Greater Accra and Western Regions. However, such a choice must be made strategically considering other factors such as the population of the region, ethnic, religious, gender and regional balance.

The NPP, however, to a large extent, has been successful in their choice of running mate from the Northern Region (an NDC stronghold), per evidence from the election results. With Dr Bawumia now their flagbearer, the party can give the NDC a strong challenge if he chooses his running mate from the Ashanti Region.

Above all, however, every election has its dynamics and determining factors and goes beyond just geographical factors, ethnic background and personalities. Ultimately, Ghanaians will consider the performance of both candidates in terms of the economy, job creation, and fight against corruption etc. in their voting decision, according to a survey by Global Info Analytics. Fortunately, both candidates have had the experience of leading the country in different capacities at the highest level, so it is easy to measure their performance.

 Editing by Harriet Ofori, Jerry Sam and Peter Agbesi Adivor

Follow the the 2024 Ghanaian Election on Twitter @Ghanaelectionsand Facebook @Ghana Post-Elections.


Share Article