2024 Elections: Tensions up as NDC releases list of candidates for Running Mate

Assuming no unforeseen last-minute changes, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is poised to unveil its choice for the vice-presidential candidate on the 2024 election ticket next week.

The announcement is slated to follow the conclusion of the NDC flagbearer’s ongoing Building Ghana Tour, adding to the tension within the party as uncertainty looms over the selection.

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According to reports, the party has narrowed down the potential candidates to three regions: Central, Eastern, and Ashanti. Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman, Julius Debrah, and Kwame Awuah-Darko are said to represent the respective regions in contention.

Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang served as the running mate to Mr. John Dramani Mahama in the December 2020 general election, where they faced defeat.

Criticisms have been leveled against her for perceived lack of contribution to the ticket and the loss of her home region, the Central Region. Notable NDC figures like Obed Asamoah have advocated for her replacement if the party aims to secure victory in the upcoming election.

Conversely, her supporters argue that she is capable of learning from past experiences and, if given another opportunity, will rectify any shortcomings this year.

Julius Debrah, former Chief of Staff during John Mahama’s administration from January 2013 to January 2017, emerges as a potential candidate for the NDC ticket. Hailing from the Eastern Region, he enjoys a close friendship with John Mahama and has been discreetly rallying support from associates, despite publicly disavowing any interest in the role. Debrah is recognized for his competence and effectiveness in governance and administration, possessing qualities deemed crucial for a running mate. His extensive influence in the business realm could significantly bolster John Mahama’s electoral prospects by appealing to a diverse array of voters across the nation

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From the Ashanti Region, Kwame Awuah-Darko’s name has come up very strongly for the second time since 2020.

In 2020, he was said to be part of a final shortlist of names under consideration for the running mate role, but Mahama chose Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang.

He is a businessman and a banker, the 3rd son of the late Nana Awuah-Darko Ampem I, the Nkosuohene of the Asante Juaben traditional area in the Ashanti Region.

Kwame Awuah-Darko is a former BOST and TOR Managing Director under the erstwhile John Mahama government and is credited with its transformation.

Like Julius Debrah, he is said to be a visionary thinker from a family of rich businessmen with a history of bankrolling the NDC.

Aside from competence, his ties to the Manhyia palace as an Ashanti royal may be an advantage for the NDC to exploit.

As the NPP has indicated its intentions to pick Ashanti as its running mate, the NDC’s choice of Ashanti with links to the Eastern Region may provide a fighting chance to balance out the votes.

A prevailing sentiment among NDC members is that Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman’s selection as John Dramani Mahama’s running mate in 2020 failed to secure victory for the party, particularly in the Central Region and nationwide. Consequently, many within the party doubt that retaining her as the running mate would significantly benefit the NDC’s prospects in the upcoming December 2024 elections.

Recently, there has been widespread discussion within the NDC about the importance of selecting a running mate from the Eastern Region. Proponents of this view highlight the region’s diverse ethnic composition, with only 50% being “Akans,” who typically support the NPP. Additionally, with current President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, an Eastern Region native, not running for reelection, some argue that strategically selecting a running mate from the Eastern Region could be advantageous for the NDC.

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Conversely, some members of the NDC advocate for choosing a candidate from the Ashanti Region to challenge the NPP’s stronghold. They believe that by selecting a candidate from this region, the NDC could effectively contest for power in an area traditionally dominated by the NPP.

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