John Mahama’s decision to opt out of the 2024 elections has been met with shock among the rank and file of the party
The former president John Dramani Mahama has confided in close associates that he may not run again for the presidency, 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 co-ordinated 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 himself affirmed as the party’s flagbearer without a contest. That campaign has already started and is gathering momentum, reliable sources said.
Threat to unity
Two close associates confirmed that Mahama, who led the party in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, is reluctant to go through the whole process of raising funds for the NDC leadership contest which will take place at the very latest in the first quarter of 2023.
But supporters in other aspirants’ camps 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”. They warn that could disturb the unity of the main opposition party.
“We are confident he will contest,” a source at the NDC party headquarters also told Asaase News. “We think he is simply going through a phase, especially after the devastating unanimous defeat we suffered at the Supreme Court.”
Mahama challenged the 2020 presidential results in the Supreme Court before seven judges but failed to produce the evidence required to support his challenge, losing the case in a 7-0 judgment. He lost the 2020 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 under the 1992 constitution, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will certainly present a new face after fielding President Akufo-Addo in the past four elections: 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020.
Of these four elections, the NPP has 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 that 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 that was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2013 after a failed election petition challenge by the NPP’s flagbearer, running mate and chairman.
In 2016 and 2020 the NDC stuck with Mahama as its presidential candidate but lost on both occasions.
This has prompted calls for a fresh candidate, as the NPP will also be presenting a fresh face. Mahama would be able to serve only another single four-year term, because he had an earlier full term in office.
Fallout from Election 2020 petition
After losing the 2020 election, Mahama petitioned the Supreme Court, claiming that no candidate won more than 50% of the valid votes cast. He asked the court to order a run-off between himself and President Akufo-Addo.
Many political scientists and commentators saw Mahama’s petition as a preparatory process for his comeback in 2024.
However, on 4 March 2021, a seven-member Supreme Court panel 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 or congratulated the incumbent.
Push for comeback
The former president still enjoys a huge following in the NDC.
Checks by Asaase News suggest that as things stand he would win fresh NDC primaries by a landslide.
Those pushing for Mahama’s retention argue that he is the only candidate in the NDC who can 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 Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, back on the ballot paper for the party 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 of today, Sunday 21 March 2021, the movement announced that it had secured 43 signatures.
Opposition to Mahama’s return
A controversial member of the 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.
“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 [the NDC national chairman, Samuel] 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 said.
Coffie further argued 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 realise 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.”
Apart from the current Speaker of Parliament, other leading members of the NDC such as Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Kwabena Duffuor, Joshua Alabi and Haruna Iddrisu are all potential presidential candidates.
Their 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,” said a party executive, who argued that an imposition would be a bad idea.