The second coming of Mahama, political masterstroke or gamble?
Former President, John Mahama
When we hear about the second coming of somebody, our minds first go to the long held hope and belief of Christians that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will come back a second time for all those who have kept the faith. However, it is not in all instances that a second coming may be religious.
These days, it could be political too. The successful NDC congress over the weekend produced historic scenes and a comeback kid, John Dramani Mahama, as flagbearer of a party he led to defeat in the last election. Historic because, it was the first time such a large electoral college participated in the election of a flagbearer of a party in the sub-region.
Former President Mahama who predictably won the elections with such a huge margin is the first former president to want to stage a comeback for the presidency using democratic means in Ghana. It is also the first time he has really competed to lead the NDC as its flagbearer. On previous occasions, he got the party’s top job on a silver platter. First, through a constitutional transfer of power when his boss, and the nation’s president, Professor John Mills died in office. As vice president, he was quickly sworn-in as president in fulfillment of the Ghanaian republican constitution and in order to avoid any leadership crisis.
The NDC had gone to congress to elect the late president as its flagbearer for the 2012 elections. At the time of his death, the elections were some four months away. The party quickly at a congress in Kumasi rallied around Mr Mahama and endorsed him as the flagbearer. He had barely three months to campaign. He was to face the politically experienced Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP, who was making a second attempt at the presidency, and a few others from the so-called smaller parties. Mr Mahama won.
The second time he had the flagbearership was when as president he had no challenger at congress,and received the party’s endorsement. Never mind that one George Boateng identified as the youth organizer of the party in Oyarifa picked up forms to contest the slot. He was disqualified for some reason.
My point is, this is the first time Mr Mahama has been involved in real competition for the NDC flagbearership. He came up against six other stalwarts of the party who had their own qualities and experience. He was seen as the favourite right from the day he tossed his hat in the ring, political connoisseurs called it for him.
At some stage in the race fraught with petitions and law suits, it appeared things were going to get difficult for Mr Mahama. Not that he was going to lose, but his projected victory margin could be disturbed. It turned out that though the other candidates put up a fight of their lives, they were too feeble for the Mahama wave sweeping through the NDC. He polled 95.23% of the votes, leaving the six to scramble for the measly under 5%.
Dominance of Mahama in NDC Politics Mahama’s popularity in the NDC was never in doubt and it will continue to be so for some time. This is because, the current structure of influence in the party owes allegiance to his magnanimity as former president. Many of the party elite were his appointees and many of them sponsored quite a lot of the people into executive positions at various levels of the party. These executives [at the branch, constituency, regional and national levels] became delegates.
Mr Mahama though not aggressively, has over the years cut a dominant figure in the NDC and the party currently is defined by him. Right from his days as deputy minister of communications, he has had this likeable personality, affable posture and a moderate politician outlook that appeared attractive to many undecided voters. His popularity grew through the years as he became a substantive minister. In opposition, he was the darling boy of many because of his urbane nature and cross-cutting appeal. He could reach across the aisle and people believe he won over a lot of t