Beyond Former President John Dramani Mahama, who has the National Democratic Congress prepared to win a presidential election in Ghana?

Will His Excellency’s successor emerge from any of those who contested him in the party’s February 2019 presidential primaries?

How will Prof Joshua Alabi, Alban Bagbin, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Goosie Tanoh and Nurudeen Iddrisu be able to win a presidential election against any of the NPP’s leading contenders, including the sitting Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia?

For instance, the popularity of Dr Bawumia is such that in partnership with then-candidate Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the pair took power from John Mahama, then a sitting president, in the 2016 presidential elections.

The margin of that victory has been described by pollsters as unprecedented. 

The men likely to succeed Mahama, on the other hand, could not even amass combined votes of 10% in the NDC’s presidential primaries against Mahama, the man who was defeated by Bawumia and his partner in the 2016 election.

The verdict here is that the man likely to succeed Mahama is less marketed even within his political party and a newcomer on the national stage per the popularity of the possible opposition party contender.

This could have been avoided had John Mahama chosen a younger person as his Vice-Presidential candidate in the 2012 and 2016 elections.

Unfortunately, he made Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, a man older than himself his vice president. This man is now deceased and buried with his experience.  

While it was very convenient for Mr Mahama to have had a less ambitious person deputising him in the 2012 and 2016 elections,  that decision sacrificed the future of the party.

This strategy was carefully avoided by opponents of the NDC.

Having a succession plan in mind, the veteran politician, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo picked Dr Bawumia, then a political neophyte, to become his vice president.

Through nurturing and the many failed attempts to become vice president in the past, Dr Bawumia is now arguably the single most formidable political candidate to become Ghana’s president. 

If in doubt about how effective this strategy works, don’t look far, the political career of former president Mahama underscores its effectiveness.

Aside from the many opportunities given him by his party to represent the people of Bole Bamboi Constituency as Member of Parliament, his many years of shuffling between the positions of deputy Minister and substantive Minister of state, enriched his VC considerably.

But it was his selection as Vice President by the late President John Evans Atta Mills ahead of many other experienced hands in the NDC, which gave him a headstart against his competitor in the 2012 elections.

He was the only former Vice President in that election. And he won.

The records show that no man wins the presidency at first attempt unless the person is a vice president or a president.

Jerry John Rawlings won the 1992 elections and other elections because he contested as head of state.  

And so was Mahama, who won in 2012, when he contested as Vice President.

Beyond these two individuals, Former Presidents John Kuffour, John Evans Atta Mills and President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo became presidents after several attempts.

While the comeback of the NDC for the 2020 elections has generated enough excitement because of the person and exposure of John Dramani Mahama, it is unclear what the future portends for the NDC beyond him.

That is the more reason the discussion for a vice president for John Dramani Mahama should not only be focused on who can help him become president but who can help the NDC stay in power or come back to power after the 2020 elections.