Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Former Trade and Industry Minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, appears to have thrown in the towel as the race for the presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for Election 2020 gathers momentum.
He has said categorically that if former President John Mahama contests as the flag bearer, he (Spio-Garbrah) will not join the race, although it is not clear whether he will be interested in the contest if the ex-president does not come.
He granted an interview to a private radio station - Radio XYZ - in Accra on Tuesday and was later quoted as making a subtle declaration to contest in the 2020 presidential election, but he later reacted by saying it was distorted.
“That’s a premature question for me to answer… all of us appointed by Mahama have great respect for him. We all believe we have to grant him that opportunity,” Spio had told the station, adding, “He has the first right of refusal.”
He continued, “My view is that all such matters are for the collective… when the time comes I’ll take that into account. Let’s work together to fix that car first or the horse that may be lame or whatever allegory people want to use. Once it is done, the best driver will be decided. At this state, it is early. Everyone could have leadership potential and I can’t be excluded.”
Mr Spio-Garbrah later said on the social media platform - Facebook - that his interview had been distorted by the media; and that he was giving an indication that he might still be in the contest after all.
"Please note the slight but important distortion of what I said this morning on Radio XYZ. I did NOT say I shall run if Mahama doesn't nor did I discuss who is the ‘best person’ to lead the NDC.”
He continued, “I said that all of us Mahama appointees have a great deal of respect for him and so I believe he should be given (as a former President and party leader) the right of first refusal whether to run again.
“However, I noted that he will be contested if he runs. I indicated that there are many people asking me to run but I have advised them both publicly and privately that it is best for all of us to concentrate on repairing the ‘broken NDC car’ or ‘strengthening the lame horse’ (Mahama's allegory) before competing over party leadership, hence, my call for us to await the outcome of the Prof Botchwey Committee's work.”
He added, “I have no doubt that there will be many distortions of what I said on Radio XYZ, which I have summarized above."
Apart from Mr Spio-Garbrah’s name that popped up, there are a host of NDC stalwarts who are all planning to upstage ex-President Mahama as the NDC’s flag bearer for 2020 because many claim the former president does not have what it takes to run for the highest office again after his humiliating defeat as incumbent leader in the 2016 general election.
They include Alban Bagbin, former majority leader in parliament who is currently 2nd deputy dpeaker of the house; former speaker of parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho and former National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) CEO, Sylvester Mensah, who was recently seen meeting NDC members at Sogakope in the Volta Region.
A retired Rector of the University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA), Joshua Alabi, is also reportedly lacing his boots to declare his intention to stand for the nomination in possible opposition to ex-President Mahama's bland popularity arising out of the Prof. Kwesi Botchwey Commission’s report on how the NDC lost the December 7, 2016 general election.
They are all said to be busily setting up offices and criss-crossing the country to shore up their support base ahead of the crucial NDC congress, likely to be held next year.
Some political analysts are of the opinion that should ex-President Mahama succeed in contesting on the ticket of the NDC again but fail to win the 2020 contest, it would further break the front of the opposition party because they would then have to struggle to market a candidate for 2024.
Others also believe that since Mr Mahama was humiliated in the December 7, 2016 poll, there was going to be very little chance for him in 2020 – especially when there is no incumbency advantage.
The former president himself recently called for a careful re-organisation and assessment of the NDC after the party’s crushing defeat last year, admitting that the former ruling party was sick as he likened it to a ‘lame horse.’
For him, it is absolutely premature for members of the NDC to talk about who will lead the party at its present state, positing, "If you ride a lame horse into a race and you lose the race, your priority must be to cure the lameness of the horse and not about who will ride the horse."
However, critics within the NDC are saying that the party has never been lame and insisted that it was the jockey (in reference to the ex-President as NDC candidate) who was rather lame.