The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Dramani Mahama, is expected to officially unveil his running mate for the 2020 presidential elections today [July 6, 2020].
When the National Executive Committee (NEC) meets today at 11 am, Mr Mahama is expected to present either former Education Minister, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, a former Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Isaac Bannerman Nii Moi Thompson, a former Minister of Health and Deputy Campaign Manager for the 2020 elections, Mr Alex Segbefia or a former Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor as his choice of a running mate.
The names of Mr Segbefia and Dr Nii Moi Thompson may surprise many followers because their names have so far not appeared in the list of speculations.
But Graphic Online can confirm that among the shortlisted candidates, Prof Opoku-Agyemang stands tall with Mr Segbefia and Dr Nii Moi Thompson as the outsiders.
Party sources tell Graphic Online that Mr Mahama is likely to settle on Prof Opoku-Agyemang and also break the cycle of male running mate and getting more females into mainstream political decision-making in line with the party’s policy.
If confirmed by the NEC, Prof Opoku-Agyemang, who is regarded as a woman of integrity, will become the first female running mate of the two leading political parties in the country [NDC and NPP].
Prof Opoku-Agyemang, appears to be in a pole position among all with her gender, record as the first female Vice-Chancellor of a university; the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and a trained journalist.
The source said Professor Opoku-Agyemang’s association with the NDC began as far back as 1996 when, as the hostess of the popular Radio Gold programme, ‘Platform’, she interviewed then-President Jerry John Rawlings in the build-up to the 1996 presidential election.
The interview was so effective that many believe it was a major contributory factor to the landslide victory that President Rawlings won over Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor in that year’s election.
She also co-hosted the 2012 Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) sponsored presidential debates.
A gender activist told Graphic Online that although presidential candidates often talk about the important role of women in all spheres of national life and about the need for greater gender equality in Ghanaian politics, it all whittles away when elected.
“When it comes right down to it – all our candidates have found excuses not to act. They all trot out the stereotypical wisdom that “Ghanaians are not ready for a female president” and “even women will not vote for another woman” and that their Parties will rebel. In short, their gender commitment takes second place to electoral opportunity,” a party source said in support of Prof Opoku-Agyemang’s choice.
Mahama for change
The source said Mr Mahama looks forward to changing that and demonstrate his commitment to naming a woman as his running mate.
That, the source said, which had also been confirmed by multiple sources within the NDC, made Mr Mahama to take time in naming his running mate as he (Mahama) had to sell and get the buy-in of the movers and shakers in the Party. “JM firmly believes that the time has come to make real change. And he is confident that there are many women in the Party who have what it takes to lead the country forward,” another source stated.
The source said the difficulty that Mr Mahama had was choosing among NDC’s many accomplished female leaders who would best complement him as a candidate and then as a President.
It said names such as Ms Hanny Sherry Ayitey, former Minister for Environment and Vice Chairman of the NDC, Ms Hannah Tetteh, former MP, Trade Minister, and Foreign Minister; Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong; former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice; Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu (also a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Vice-Chair of the NDC; Nana Oye Lithur, former Minister of Gender and Social Protection; Ambassador Edith Hazel; former Ambassador to Denmark and Dr. Valerie Sawyer, former Deputy Chief of Staff, have all come up.
Mahama meets Rawlings
On Saturday, July 4, 2020, former President Mahama met the founder of the party, former President Jerry John Rawlings to discuss issues. Although the details of the meeting remain a secret, Graphic Online believes the issue of the choice of running mate was also discussed.
Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang is the current Africa Board Chairperson of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). She has been a FAWE member since 2014. She is a former Minister of Education in Ghana.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang was appointed the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in 2008, the first female Vice-Chancellor of a public university in Ghana.
Before heading the university, she had since 1986 served as head of the Department of English, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Dean of the Board of Graduate Studies and Founding Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
She was also the Academic Director of the African Diaspora Studies programme of School for International Training Study Abroad.
In October 2009, she was elected Ghana’s representative to UNESCO’s Executive Board. She has been re-elected for a second time to UNESCO Executive Board.
She obtained her Diplôme Supérieure d’Etudes Françaises from the University of Dakar, Senegal in 1976, a B. A. (Hons) with a Diploma in Education from the University of Cape Coast in 1977 and Masters and Doctorate degrees from York University in Toronto, Canada in 1980 and 1986 respectively.
Naana has chaired more than twenty Boards and Committees, among them: the Council of the University College of Education, Winneba 1998-2002; Academic Committee of the Ghana Council for Tertiary Education; and was Joint Co-coordinator of the Specialist Program in English Language and Ghanaian Culture for Japan Overseas Co-operation Volunteers 1991-1993.
She has also chaired the Adjudication Committee, VALCO Literary Awards, Ghana 1993-1998; Board of Governors, Ghana Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-Ghana) since its founding in 1998; and, Board of Governors, Wesley Girls High School 1994-1998.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the development and promotion of quality education in Ghana, the Ghana Women of Excellence Award was conferred her.
She is a member of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences; University Teachers Association of Ghana; English Studies Association; African Studies Association, USA; African Literature Association, USA; and the International Fulbright Scholars Association.
She is the recipient of four honorary doctoral degrees; the Global Leadership Award; many national and international awards; she serves on several councils, boards, and committees and has published many books and articles. She is also a two-time Fulbright scholar and is currently a Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).
She is from Cape Coast in the Central Region.