Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Former Trade and Industry Minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, appears to have made a u-turn about the issue of flagbearership of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He stated categorically last May that if former President John Mahama contests as NDC flag bearer for the 2020 presidential election, he (Spio-Garbrah) was not going to join the race.
Now that it is becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Mahama wants a comeback after being humiliated at the polls last year, it was expected that the former minister was going to keep his promise of no contest.
However, the spokesperson for Spio, Kweku Tawiah Ampah, has urged the public to disregard any news that Mr Spio-Garbrah has abandoned his plan to lead the NDC in 2020.
“I can assure you that come 2018, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah will run,” he said on Citi FM in Accra Tuesday, emphasizing that the former minister would contest for the slot, even if former President Mahama decides to make a comeback.
“Even if he decides to run he should know that he will be contested; that is what is stated. What it means is that we should give the former president a courtesy of either refusing or deciding to run as a respect for his presidency and the fact that he was the leader of the NDC... But this doesn’t mean that Spio-Garbrah will not run,” Mr Kweku Ampah said.
However, before he (Ampah) could land, Spio sent message to the presenter of the programme saying that he had not taken a decision on his presidential ambition, further deepening the confusion.
In May Spio-Garbrah did not also give any indication that he was not interested in the contest if the former president was not going to lead the NDC in 2020.
He had granted interview to a private radio station - Radio XYZ - in Accra on Tuesday, May 9, and was later quoted as making a subtle declaration to contest in 2020 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” (Mahama) “has the first right of refusal.”
He added, “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 social media platform - Facebook - that his interview had been distorted by the media and that was giving an indication that he might still be in the contest after all.
"Please note 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.”
Mr Spio-Garbrah added, “I have no doubt that there will be many distortions of what I said on Radio XYZ, which I have summarized above."
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 will further break the front of the opposition party because it will then have to struggle to market a new candidate for 2024.
Others also believe that since President Mahama was humiliated in the December 7, 2016 polls, there was going to be very little chance for him in 2020 - when there is no incumbency advantage.
Mr Mahama himself has called for a careful re-organisation and assessment of the NDC after its crushing defeat in the 2016 general election, admitting that the party was sick as he likened it to a lame horse.