Former president John Dramani Mahama has confided in close associates that he may not contest for the presidency again having lost the last two general elections, sources within the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have disclosed to Asaase News.
According to our sources, Mahama’s decision to opt out of the 2024 elections has been met with shock among the rank and file of the party, triggering coordinated lobbying to get him to rescind his decision.
However, his opponents within the NDC also see it as a simple ploy by Mahama to get him affirmed as flagbearer without a contest. Already, that campaign has started and gathering momentum, reliable sources said.
Two close associates confirmed that Mahama, who led the party for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, is reluctant to go through the entire process of raising funds for the party leadership contest which takes place, latest in the first quarter of 2023.
But, supporters in the camp of the other aspirants are not impressed. They see it as an attempt to “bully the party to hand over the baton to him again but this time without a contest,” something they threaten could disturb the unity of the main opposition party.
“We are confident he will contest. We think he is simply going through a phase, especially after the devastating unanimous defeat we suffered at the Supreme Court,” a source at the NDC party headquarters also told Asaase News.
Mahama challenged the 2020 presidential results in the Supreme Court before seven justices, but failed to produce the evidence required to support his challenge, losing the case by 7:0 judgment. He lost the election by a margin of more than 500,000 votes.
Past and future elections
The next presidential and parliamentary elections are due on 7 December 2024. Under term limits imposed on Presidents in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will certainly present a new face after sticking to President Akufo-Addo in the last four elections, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. Out of the four elections, the NPP lost two (2008 and 2012) and won two (2016 and 2020).
The NDC on the other hand, in 2008 put up John Evans Atta-Mills, with Mahama as his running mate, and won the election. President Mills died in office on 24 July 2012. His vice-president took over to complete his term. Mahama contested and won the 2012 election, a victory which was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2013, after a failed election petition challenge by the NPP. The NDC in 2016 and 2020 stuck with Mahama as their presidential candidate but lost on both occasions.
This has prompted calls for a fresh candidate, since the NPP will also be presenting a fresh face. Mahama can only serve a single four-year term, because of his earlier full term in office.
Fallout from 2020 Election Petition
Mahama after losing the 2020 elections, petitioned the Supreme Court claiming that no candidate won more than 50% of the valid votes cast and asked the court to order a runoff between himself and President Akufo-Addo.
Many political scientists and commentators saw Mahama’s petition as a preparatory process for his comeback in 2024. The seven-member Supreme Court, however, on 4 March 2021, unanimously dismissed the petition in its entirety as lacking merit. Mahama has criticised the ruling and has since not publicly acknowledged the legitimacy of Akufo-Addo’s victory to congratulate the incumbent.
Push for Mahama’s comeback
The former President still enjoins a massive following in the NDC and from the checks of Asaase News he is expected to win the primaries by a landslide, as things stand now.
Those pushing for Mahama’s retention argue that he is the only candidate in the NDC who is most likely to secure victory for the party in 2024.
A movement has also begun within the NDC with the sole aim of getting Mahama and his election 2020 running mate, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, back on the ballot paper for the NDC in the 2024 elections.
The movement, “Bringing Mahama Back (BMB)”, is looking for 1,000 signatures to form the grounds on which it will push its agenda. As at today, Sunday 21 March 2021, the movement announced that it had secured 43 signatures.
Opposition to Mahama’s return
A controversial member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dela Coffie, recently took to Facebook to demand a total overhaul of the leadership of his party, including a new candidate to lead the party into the 2024 elections.
“The NDC as it is now has lost its moral worth, and it is firmly in the hands of gutless leaders, whose idea of leadership is antiquated as the medieval age. Indeed, if proof were ever needed that the current NDC leaders are spineless and have no functioning frontal lobe, here it is – their connivance to get Mahama imposed on the party ahead of election 2024,” Coffie wrote on his Facebook wall.
“Yeah, we’re talking about leadership that is still collating the 2016 and 2020 election results and yet they’re busy plotting to keep the failure team in motion for another successful future electoral defeats. While Ofosu Ampofo and his national executives at the party headquarters appears to be slumbering, Mahama and his cult followers are making a hostile takeover bid for the NDC. The party has effectively collapsed into a personality cult,” the outspoken NDC member added.
Coffie further indicated that “the NDC as it is now with Mahama in charge will win nothing and this is the uncomfortable truth. It’s not rocket science to realize that most folks will never vote NDC again while he’s the leader – he needs to go away to give any future NDC a fighting chance”.
Potential NDC candidates
Apart from the current Speaker of Parliament, other leading members of the NDC such as Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Kwabena Duffuor, Joshua Alabi, and Haruna Iddrisu are all potential presidential candidates, whose supporters are threatening to resist any attempt to have Mahama “imposed” on the party.
“Akufo-Addo contested in all the previous three times that his party presented him as their candidate, 2008, 2012 and 2016. If JM believes he is our best candidate, let him allow the delegates to say so,” stated a party executive, who said an imposition would be a bad idea.