Former President John Dramani Mahama yesterday hit the ground running in his bid to lead the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) once again in the 2020 presidential election.
He superintended over the party’s worst electoral defeat when he polled 44.40% on December 7, 2016.
A statement from his office signed by James Agyenim Boateng, a former deputy minister, said Mr. Mahama and his entourage would spend four days in the Central Region.
He mentioned constituencies like Awutu Senya East and West, Gomoa East, Agona East and West, Gomoa Central and Efutu as places where they would visit, adding that “he will also visit other constituencies during his campaign tour of the region.”
“Mr. Mahama is scheduled to meet regional and constituency executives, as well as delegates of the National Democratic Congress. He will share his vision with delegates and seek their mandate to lead the NDC to victory in the 2020 election. The former president is due to return to Accra on Saturday,” the statement said.
It is unclear when the party will hold the primary to select its flag bearer as the tentative date of December 7 appears to be doubtful because the election of national executives who would oversee the primary has not been conducted.
On August 23, he officially wrote to the leadership of the NDC through the party’s general-secretary to declare his intention to contest again.
He later appeared in a short video to say that he is seeking a second shot at the presidency because he believes he owes a duty to God and the country to do so.
His declaration ended months of speculation about his intention to make a comeback.
Some of his appointees during his tenure sent the letter of intent to the NDC’s hierarchy at its headquarters at Adabraka Accra.
It’s believed in NDC circles that ex-President Mahama is the only candidate with a deep pocket to finance the party’s campaign for 2020.
Daniel Ohene Agyekum, who led the Mahama Team to the party’s headquarters, said the former president is the NDC’s best ‘hope’ of returning to power.
Mr Agyekum, a former Ghana’s ambassador to the United States said: “Despite our deep respect for all the individuals within our party who have put themselves up for the same slot, we have shown up here in this number because we genuinely believe that President John Mahama represents our best hope of a quick return to power to continue the transformation agenda for a Better Ghana as evidenced in the very good work JM did between 2013 and 2016, but which was unfortunately truncated through the obvious deception of the NPP.”
He was accompanied by former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah; Valerie Sawyer; Victor Smith; Inusah Fuseini and a host of MPs.
Mr. Mahama, in the short video, clearly admitted that things were not done right during his tenure which compelled the electorate to boot him out of office.
He claimed Ghanaians are currently crying over economic hardship, hence his decision to lead the opposition NDC into the 2020 election.
“I have prayed diligently about the task ahead, and I believe I owe a duty to God and my country to take our great party back to government to right the wrongs of the past and to put an end to the cries of the people under the current dispensation,” he said in a short video he posted on social media platform Facebook.
It was an open secret that Mr. Mahama was lacing his boots to run for president again and used the so-called NDC Unity Walk to test the ground, and therefore submitting a letter officially to declare his intention did not come as a surprise to many political observers.
Other NDC aspirants and gurus in the party have cautioned that the NDC would be doomed if Mr. Mahama is elected to lead them in 2020 because according to them, he supervised the worst NDC electoral defeat in the history of the party.
Some have also described him as ‘damaged goods,’ who cannot win the next election, especially when the NDC has not fully assessed why it performed abysmally in the 2016 elections.
However, Mr Mahama is adamant and appears to have already set up his machinery for 2020.
“I am happy to confirm that I have submitted my letter to the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress confirming my decision to contest the position of the flag bearer for the NDC when the party opens nominations later this year,” he said in the short video.
He explained that “In coming to this firm decision, I have pondered deeply and soberly on the socio-economic and political landscape of our country today vis-a-vis the clear path we had started to build aimed at positioning Ghana as a true middle-income country by modernizing our dilapidated social and economic infrastructure and gradually inculcating in the Ghanaian a sense of patriotism, self-belief and commitment to a one Ghana agenda.”
Groundswell of Support
He said, “I have taken into consideration the groundswell of support, the never-ending calls and encouragement from a large section of our party elders, members of our party, supporters and Ghanaians from diverse backgrounds,” adding “the 2020 election presents our party, the NDC, with a great opportunity to offer yet again visionary leadership driven by a commitment to create opportunities for all our people, not just a few.”
The former president said “our collective victory in 2020 will end the increasing hardship, expand the base of our economy, create more sustainable jobs, ensure shared prosperity for all and pursue good governance, including peace, unity and security.”
“As a servant leader, I have listened with deep respect to the elders of our party, to members of our party and Ghanaians from all walks of life, and I am honoured to avail myself for truthful, transparent, selfless, unifying and dedicated service to the NDC, and above all to the good people of Ghana.”
Mr. Mahama’s hopes of securing a second term in office in 2016 after his controversial victory in 2012 were dashed when he was humiliated at polls by then presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
With huge incumbency advantage coupled with flagrant abuse of state resources in the campaign, Mr. Mahama polled 4,713,277 votes, representing 44.40% as against the NPP candidate’s 5,716,026 53.8%, representing 53.85%.
While Nana Akufo-Addo’s votes appreciated significantly and that of NDC’s John Mahama declined, with then president-elect widening the gap with over 1,002,749 votes.