This is a man who started off life as a politician, then vamoosed into the pristine precincts of academia and is now seeking a return to mainstream politics, this time as President.
Ga native from Nungua and Russian trained Economist and Chartered Marketer, Prof. Alabi has a rather long and rich political CV. Even if it appears rusty and may have lost some of its lustre.
He was National Union of Ghana Students President while in Russia in the mid to late 80s. He returned to Ghana and plunged into the 1996 elections, becoming the Member of Parliament for the swing constituency of Krowor in the Greater Accra region after obtaining 40% of the votes cast. He lost his re-election bid in 2000 and plunged fully into teaching at his alma mater, the then-Institute of Professional Students, which became a university under his leadership as Rector.
Prof. Alabi’s trump card in this election is what he did with IPS; the transformation he is credited with at the University. He is renowned for his innovative leadership that transformed the school into a respected institution of learning with great infrastructure to boast.
Politically, he does not have any major scandals hanging around his neck. Except, of course, concerns about an overpriced OBS system procured by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) while he was Board Chairman.
His ethnicity, depending on how one looks at it, may prove positive for his campaign. Traditionally, the Gas have voted NDC. Many settlements are predominantly pro-NDC. The problem, however, is that the Gas constitute a small proportion of Ghana’s population.
Prof. Alabi seems to also enjoy quite some support from some influential people from the Volta Region, including MPs and lawyers. This can prove decisive because this is the so-called World Bank of the opposition party. In the 1996 election, Mr Rawlings garnered as much as 95% of the votes in that region. If the region backs him fully, it may prove very important.
The things that may work against him are varied and many.
He has been away from the political scene, at least publicly for far too long. The last political office he held was Greater Accra Region Chairman of the NDC from 2001 to 2005. That means that for the past 13 years, he has not been publicly involved in the affairs of the NDC. That is long enough to render one politically irrelevant.
The man may as well have forgotten how to wow a crowd, ginger and energise a party seething with anger after losing elections to a man they genuinely had a formula to beat. They had beaten Nana Akufo-Addo in 2008 and 2012.
Does Prof. Alabi have the spark? Does his name resound across the regions? Does he have the charisma the party may need to rely on? And more importantly, can he connect with the grassroots of the party?
The answers to these questions seem to ominously point to the negative. If that is the case, he may struggle to tilt the scales in his favour.
Delegates of the NDC need a lot of convincing to buy into any notions that the NDC’s electoral prospects look bright with Prof. Alabi as flagbearer. But his supporters insist he has kept touch with the party’s roots. Their work is cut for them, they have to convince the delegates the good professor, more than the other ten men, best represents the NDC’s chances of returning to power.