President John Mahama will lose the 2016 presidential election if he fails to retain Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur as running mate, pollster Ben Ephson has predicted.
“If President Mahama changes Mr Amissah-Arthur, he is heading for defeat,” the Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch newspaper said in an interview Thursday.
“You don’t change a winning team,” he warned, adding: “…Even [Nana] Akufo-Addo [flagbearer of the biggest opposition party] is retaining [Dr Mahamudu] Bawumia… So, why do you change a winning team?” Mr Ephson asked.
Mr Ephson’s warning follows calls by a group calling itself Volta Youth for Development, which claims to be non-partisan, for President Mahama to replace the vice-president with Speaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho. The group argues that Mr Amissah-Arthur is “incompetent”.
Leader of the group, Prosper Fofo Ndekor said Thursday that President Mahama and the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) risk losing the 2016 general elections if the former governor of the central bank is retained as running mate.
In the group’s estimation, the loyalty of the Volta Region to the NDC over the years must be rewarded with the selection of Mr Adjaho as running mate.
To buttress the group’s incompetence charge against Mr Amissah-Arthur, Mr Fofo Ndekor asked: “How many times do we hear of the activeness of the Vice President?”
He also cited a situation a few months ago, where Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh, represented the President at a forum held in Accra instead of the Vice-President doing so, a situation which forced former President Jerry Rawlings to raise a protest.
“It’s a clear indication that even the President knows his vice-president is incompetent,” Mr Fofo Ndekor told Kweku Obeng-Adjei on Starr FM’s Midday News.
However, Mr Ephson told the same station that Mr Adjaho must bide his time.
Meanwhile a senior official at development NGO ISODEC, Dr Steve Manteaw, has said the fact that the country is facing economic challenges does not suggest Vice-President Amissah-Arthur is a poor performer because the country's problems are not his creation.
Dr Manteaw said the country's challenges came about largely because of the over-expenditure that characterised the 2012 campaign.
The vice-president, according to Dr Manteaw, is doing his best as the head of the economic management team, with the Finance Ministry, to see how the country can get out of the doldrums. Therefore, it will be wrong, he said, for anybody to judge him on the basis of the economic challenges and the fact that he is not visible in the country.
Dr Manteaw made these observations in an interview with Class91.3fm's Regina Borley-Bortey Wednesday on whether or not President John Mahama should repeat the former governor of the Bank of Ghana as his running mate for the 2016 elections.
"The general expectation has been that you must be charismatic, you must be seen or judged as actually delivering or performing your role, but for those who understand what the role of the vice-president is, you will appreciate that the fact that Mr Amissah-Arthur is not visible does not in itself suggest he is not performing," Dr Manteaw stressed.
According to him, Mr Amissah-Arthur is a technical person and that it has been a tradition for some time now for presidential candidates to look for a technocrat to give them that technical backing because the Vice-President heads the Economic Management Team. "So, you need someone who understands a bit of economics," he added.
In his view, similar considerations informed the selection of Dr Mahamadu Bawumia as running mate for Nana Akufo-Addo, flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Dr Manteaw observed that people like Dr Bawumia and Mr Amissah-Arthur are technocrats who make things happen in the background.
In his words: "You don’t expect a vice-president to overshadow the president and to be seen in the limelight most of the time and that is the reason why Amissah-Arthur does not look like the shining star."
In response to whether the Vice-President should be retained by the President, Dr Manteaw asked: "Who changes a winning team?"
"Two of them went for the contest in 2012 and won, and, so, I don’t expect President Mahama to make a change. You don’t fix it when it’s not broken, so, my expectation is that President Mahama will maintain his running mate," he added.
On who he will be rooting for in the event that President Mahama does not choose Mr Amissah-Arthur, Dr Manteaw said: "One does not know how he [President Mahama] prioritises his criteria for selecting his running mate, but be that as it may, I will say that you will want to have someone with a strong background in economics and development planning to be able to give you that support," he said.
Meanwhile, a former head of the Political Science Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Dr Richard Amoako Baah, has said a female running mate for President Mahama will be a good idea.
“I think that will be a good idea, but whether Ghanaians are ready or not is another question,” Dr Amoako Baah said when he was asked by Class91.3fm’s Executive Breakfast Show host Ekow Mensah-Shalders whether Mr Mahama should consider choosing a female as running mate as pressure mounts on him to name his prospective deputy before the end of the year.
The leadership of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) recently gave the president the ultimatum when General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia addressed the media.
It is not clear if Mr Mahama will change Vice-President Amissah-Arthur ahead of the 2016 elections, but another political science lecturer, Dr Evans Aggrey Darko, has said not retaining the Vice-President will be politically inexpedient.
Contributing to the discussion on the Executive Breakfast Show, Dr Amoako Baah said anyone who is picked should be able to win votes for the President to get into office and have a combination of skills that will impact positively on the President’s performance if voted to lead the country.
To him, the flagbearer must do a thorough assessment to test whether the country is ready for a female vice-president before taking such a decision.
According to an assessment by Class News’ Fred Smith, female personalities who could be considered include Minister of Foreign Affairs Hannah Tetteh and Mawuena Trebarh, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).