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EXCLUSIVE: John Mahama picks Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as running mate

Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang was Mahama’s running mate in his failed attempt to win re-election as president in 2020

Barring any last-minute changes, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama, will name Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as his running mate for the 7 December 2024 presidential election.

Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, a one-time education minister in the John Mahama government that held sway from 7 January 2013 to 7 January 2017, was his running mate in his failed attempt to win re-election as president in the 2020 general election.

The naming of Opoku-Agyemang as the running mate to Mahama will mean that the NDC has decided once again to stick to the Central Region to select its vice-presidential candidate, as has been the case since 2012.

Two turns

The reselection of Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as Mahama’s projected repeat choice of running mate will be the second such decision in the history of the NDC, which came into being with the start of the Fourth Republic.

The former president Jerry John Rawlings, in his two terms as president on the NDC ticket, contested each election with a different running mate.

Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, who ran for the presidency in three successive elections (2000, 2004 and 2008), did so with three different running mates (Martin Amidu, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni and John Dramani Mahama). Subsequently, Mahama, who has also stood in three elections (2012, 2016 and 2020), is set to stand in his fourth presidential election in Ghana.

In 2012, John Mahama ran with Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur and won. The same pair contested the 2016 election but lost. In 2020, following the death of Amissah-Arthur in June 2018, Mahama chose Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as his running mate for the first time, but lost that election.

The party narrowed the source of a running mate for the NDC’s Election 2024 ticket to three regions in October 2023. The target regions were Ashanti, Central and Eastern.

The preferred candidate from the Central Region was Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang.

Spent runners and riders

Julius Debrah, a former chief of staff in the erstwhile John Mahama government of January 2013 to January 2017, was a strong potential candidate of choice for the NDC ticket. He hails from the Eastern Region and he was said to be top of the list.

Kwame Awuah-Darko is a politician, entrepreneur and banker, the third son of the late Nana Awuah-Darko Ampem I, who reigned as Nkosuohene of the Asante Juaben Traditional Area in the Ashanti Region. He was the strongest potential vice-presidential candidate for the NDC from the Ashanti Region.

It is a widely held view among the rank and file of the NDC that the choice of Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as running mate to Mahama in 2020 failed to deliver victory for the NDC in the Central Region and the nation at large.

Many of the NDC faithful believe that repeating her as the party’s running mate will add little to the party’s ticket and may not yield any political benefit to the NDC or improve its fortunes in the December 2024 general election.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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