FACULTY OF SOCIAL STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
ANNUAL COLLOQUIUM, MAY 2008
THEME: “ELECTIONS, DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT
UNDER THE FOURTH REPUBLIC”
PAPER TITLE: “PLAYING THE SECOND FIDDLE: REFLECTIONS ON RUNNING MATE
SELECTION AND THE VICE PRESIDENCY IN THE FOURTH REPUBLIC OF GHANA”
Alexander K. D. Frempong
The Vice Presidency is the second highest political office in any republic, but historically,
it has never constitutionally and practically been accorded the powers and prestige that
it deserves. The mode of appointment has made the running mate only an appendage
to the presidential candidate. While those who aspire for the vice presidential candidacy
may indicate their availability, it is often prudent to keep it subtle and not an open
campaign. No one votes for the vice president per se; he is part of a package deal and
not an independent choice. Ideally, the vice presidential nomination process should
combine the criteria of balancing the ticket with those of competence to perform his
constitutional role as presidential successor. In practice, the former is often chosen at
the expense of the latter.
In office, the vice president remains ‘a second man position’ in which duties and
resources exist at the pleasure of the president; a position full of paradoxes. Often the
president, reluctant to take the vice president into full confidence, takes his decisions
with his immediate staff, leaving the vice president a sullen outsider. How have these
apparent dilemmas surrounding the running mate selection process and around the
position of the vice president played out in Ghana’s Fourth Republic?
Ghana’s 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution enjoins presidential candidates to
designate their vice presidential candidates before the election. The vice president is to
perform functions assigned him by the Constitution or the President and to assume the
presidency, for the unexpired term, in case of the death, disability, resignation or
removal of the President (Article 60).
The selection processes of running mates of competing political parties in the four
elections from 1992 have added flavour of a different kind to the presidential races.
Increasingly, people with vice presidential ambitions have openly campaigned and even
paraded delegations to extol their virtues. Issues of regional, religious and gender
balance have dominated the nomination processes but the final choices have often
been full of surprises.
Three vice presidents have emerged so far in the Fourth Republic and the relations with
their presidents have ranged from stormy to cordial. To what extent have such
relationships impacted on the performances of the various administrations and political
leadership in general? How far have these vice presidents succeeded in their succession
bids? What are the dynamics of the running mate nomination process in the run up to
Election 2008? And what lessons can be distilled from all these experiences towards
improving elections, consolidating democracy and sustaining development in Ghana?
Choice of Running Mate
Two broad criteria underlie the choice of presidential running mates: governability and
electability. In the case of the former, candidates for vice president should, as a matter
of principle, be chosen with their constitutional role as presidential successor
uppermost in mind; and for the latter, vice presidential candidates are used exclusively
to balance the ticket, partly to heal party wounds and partly to win additional support in
the general election (Nelson 1998: 858-859).
To the extent that the concern for presidential succession is taken seriously, the first
governance criterion is the competence of nominees for vice president to become
president. The second is loyalty to the president’s policies, so that some measure of
continuity in the administration is likely to be maintained after a succession (Ibid: 858).
And to achieve continuity, the two candidates may be chosen on the basis of similarity
so that the vice-president can be considered a virtual equivalent or stand-in
replacement for the president should the latter be removed from office by death,
disability or resignation (Simonton 1985: 83).
In the context of the electability criteria, the vice presidential nomination should
broaden the presidential candidate’s appeal in the general election and his/her
nomination should unite the party in the aftermath of the presidential nominating
contest (Nelson 1988: 859). The strategic importance of ticket-balancing, therefore,
dominates, if not virtually monopolizes, discussions of vice presidential selection. While
historically the main elements of running mate selection has included region,
demography, religion, age, experience, ideology, etc, the actual set of criteria depends
on the characteristics of the presidential nominee and the changing set of electoral
circumstances (Sigelman &Wahlbeck 1997: 855-856). In this respect, a sitting vice
president could be replaced in an incumbent president’s bid for re-election, in the
altered political setting towards the end of the first term, for a choice of a different
running mate who could provide the ticket with a revised set of electoral balances
(Nelson 1988: 859).
Presidential candidates often consider running mates from all over the country but
normally settle on someone whose regional base complement theirs; a Christian for a
Muslim; an older presidential candidate for a youthful running mate; and shoring up an
inexperienced presidential candidate’s with an experienced running mate, and vice
versa. Similarly, because battles for the presidential nomination often pit one ideological
wing of a party against another, it sometimes become necessary for the factions that
were torn asunder to be rejoined by selecting the running mate from the losing faction .
This, however, can cause considerable awkwardness, as champions of contrasting
political ideals scramble to patch over the differences between them. A similar strategy
with similar pluses and minuses is offering the second spot as a consolation prize to a
defeated rival for the presidential nomination (Sigelman &Wahlbeck 1997: 856-857).
By these standards, the ideal vice presidential selection process would have to fulfill the
governance and the election criteria – a process that would foster the selection of
competent and loyal vice presidential candidate, who, at the same time, would help the
party to unite presidential aspirants and to win the general election. But in practice, the
two criteria may conflict with, if not contradict, each other. The criterion of ticket-
balancing may be at the expense of the governance and sometimes lead to lack of trust
and affinity between the president and vice president when elected (Nelson 1988: 859).
While increasingly presidential candidates have been paying considerable attention to
experience, ability and political compatibility in selecting their running mates, the
presidential nominee’s interests are generally defined in terms of getting elected rather
than governing once elected, and, to them, the ideal running mate is the best electoral
complement. The practical implication is that the running mate should not be too
similar to the presidential nominee; a textbook ticket balancing should be for the
running mate to be virtually every thing the presidential nominee is not (Sigelman
&Wahlbeck 1997: 856; Nelson 1988: 862).
On this issue of electability versus governability, several analysts are rather forthright.
According to Lee Sigelman and Paul Wahlbeck (1997: 855), presidential nominees seek
to select, from a pool of potential running mates those they deem at least minimally
qualified to serve, but who will provide the greatest boost to their chances of being
elected. For Arthur Schlessinger Jr.(1974: 484), a presidential candidate whatever he
may say, does not pick his running mate because he wants to raise him up to be his
successor; but because “of the occult and very often mistaken calculations about the
contribution he will make to their victory at the polls.” He further insists that a
“balanced ticket is a fraud on the public, it pretends that the Vice President’s views will
somehow balance the views of the President, but this is usually not so in practice” (Ibid).
Indeed, the vice presidency is a bobby trap used to ensnare some particular segments of
society to make them feel a false sense of belongingness and security. Thus, while a
beaming presidential nominee usually assures all that his newly chosen running mate is
the best person for the job; realistically it is based on short term electoral calculations
than on long term governance considerations.
The Vice Presidency
The position of the vice president has traditionally been better known for the paucity
and unimportance of its duties. Not surprisingly, John Adams, the first US Vice President
remarked: “My country has in its wisdom contrived for a me the most insignificant office
…” (Cited in Rossiter 1948: 383); and for US President Woodrow Wilson, ‘the chief
embarrassment in discussing (the office of the vice president) is that in explaining how
little there is to be said about it one has evidently said all there is to say’ (Cited in Ibid:
The vice presidency is also an office steep in paradoxes: First, the quest for balance on
the presidential ticket, as earlier indicated, may be antithetical to the placement of truly
qualified material in the office that is ‘only one heartbeat’ away from the presidency
(Simonton 1985: 80). Second, whereas the presidency and vice presidency are the only
two offices to which candidates are elected nationally by the whole electorate, the first
is a great constitutional office, while the second is a hollow shell; whoever wins the
latter wins not much in power, prestige or duties (Rossiter 1948: 383). Third, while the
vice presidency could be the best learning office, a sort of on-the-job training, for the
presidency, a vice president can learn only as much as the President is willing to have
him learn. (Schlesinger Jr. 1974: 485). Fourth, presidents are expected to prepare their
vice presidents for succession, but the manner in which some of them treat their
principal assistants erodes their capacity to succeed (ibid). Fifth, though formally the
vice president is the second-in-command, he remains an outsider, since the president
builds his own staff and takes his own decisions (ibid). Sixth, antagonism is inherent in
the relationship between the President and the Vice President and the vice presidency
could be a job of spectacular and incurable frustration (Ibid: 478). And lastly, it is ironic
that the significance of the office of the vice presidency is in the fact that the occupant
may cease to be vice president and take over the presidency when calamity strikes. Vice
President John Adams succinctly captures this: “I am Vice President. In this I am nothing,
but I may be everything” (cited in Rossitter 1948: 378).
The apparent insignificance and paradoxes notwithstanding, the vice presidency
provides for automatic succession in case of the death, disability, resignation or removal
of the president. It also gives its occupant such comprehensive national exposure and
bathes him in such publicity that makes him a front runner to succeed a president who
completes his term (Schlesinger Jr 1974: 487). Also, it has become customary (since
1921 in USA) for the Vice President to sit with the cabinet and that allows him to
become familiar with aspects of government business. Increasingly too, presidents have
been utilizing vice presidents in administrative capacities, entrusting them special
duties, particularly as heads of agencies in the economic and social spheres or of specific
presidential initiatives(Durham 1948: 311). Thus, modern vice presidents are
incrementally gaining recognition as deputy chiefs of state and deputy leaders of their
national political party in the context of the growing burdens on the time and strength
of the President (David 1967: 721).
All the current works on elections and electoral politics in Ghana (Ayee 1997,1998,
2001, Gyimah-Booadi 2001; Boafo-Arthur 2006, 2007) have all given little or no
attention to the vice presidency. The focus of studies on presidential elections has been
on the presidential candidates and not their running mates and assessment of
leadership performance solely on the president and not the vice president. This work is
therefore meant to be only a first shaky step towards filling that void.
The Vice Presidency in Ghana: A Historical Sketch
The position of a vice president did not arise at all in the constitutions in Ghana up to
independence since they, like the 1957 Independence Constitution itself, were modeled
on the British parliamentary system. In 1960 when Ghana became a republic for the first
time, the 1960 Constitution made no provision for a vice president; in its place was a
presidential commission, which clearly was an after-thought. According to Article 18
titled “Supplemental Provisions as to President”, “there shall be a Presidential
Commission consisting of three persons appointed by the President to execute the
office of the President … in the event of – a) death or resignation of the President…; b)
the illness of the President or his absence from Ghana; c) the President being adjudged
incapable of acting…” (Article 18(1), 1960 Constitution).
The presidential commission could act only with the agreement at least two of its
members; and the appointment of any or all members of the commission at any time
was by the President (18 (2-3). In practice, Nkrumah weakened the position further by
appointing different sets of people on different occasions. Following Nkrumah’s
overthrow in 1966, Ghana in the Second Republic (1969-1972) reverted to the
parliamentary system with a ceremonial president and an executive prime minister.
But when Ghana returned to constitutional rule in 1979 after nearly a decade of military
rule, the new constitution was modeled on the American system and made provision for
an executive president and a vice president.
The provisions in the 1979 Constitution relating to the Vice Presidency were in Articles
47, 56, 168 and 173. In the 1979 presidential election contested by six party and four
independent candidates, the ticket balancing, particularly among the major contenders,
was largely geographical along the north-south divide.1 In the twenty seven months they
were in office (September 1979-December 1981), President Hilla Limann and Vice
President de Graft Johnson related considerably well.2
The Vice Presidency in the Fourth Republic
After another eleven years of the military-based Provisional National Defence Council
(PNDC) regime, Ghana was ushered into the Fourth Republic on 7 January 1993 under
the 1992 Constitution, and the provisions on the vice presidency are as detailed in the
box below. The Constitution enjoins presidential candidates to designate, before the
election, persons to serve as vice president should they win the poll. The vice president
is to perform functions assigned him by the Constitution or the President and to assume
the presidency, for the unexpired term, in case of the death, disability, resignation or
removal of the President (Article 60).
Provisions on the Vice President in the 1992 Constituion
Article 60 (1) There shall be a Vice-President of Ghana who shall perform such functions
as may be assigned him by this Constitution or by the President.
(2) A candidate for the office of Vice-President shall be designated by the
candidate for the office of President before the election of the President.
(3)The provisions of article 62 of this Constitution apply to a candidate for
election as Vice-President.
(4) A candidate shall be deemed to be duly elected as Vice-President if the
candidate who designated him as candidate for election to the office of Vice-President
has been duly elected as President in accordance with the provisions of article 63 of this
(6) Whenever the President dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Vice-
President shall assume office as President with effect from the date of death,
resignation or removal of the President.
(7) Where the unexpired term served by the Vice-President under clause (6) of
this article exceeds half the term of a President, the Vice-President is subsequently
eligible to serve one full term as President.
(8)Whenever the President is absent from Ghana or is for any other reason
unable to perform the functions of the President until the President returns or is able to
perform his functions….
(10) The Vice-President shall, upon assuming office as President under clause
(6) of this article, nominate a person to the office of Vice-President subject to approval
(11) Where the President and Vice-President are both unable the functions of
the President, the Speaker of Parliament shall perform those functions until the
President or the Vice President is able to perform those functions or a new President
assumes office, as the case may be. ….
(14) The provisions of article 69 of this Constitution shall apply to the removal
from office of the Vice-President
Article 62 A person shall not be qualified for election as the (Vice-) President of Ghana
(a) he is a citizen of Ghana by birth;
(b) he has attained the age of forty years; and
(c) he is a person who is otherwise qualified to be elected a
Member of Parliament ….
Article 69 (1) The (Vice-)President shall be removed from office if he is found, in
accordance with the provisions of this article –
(a) to have acted in willful violation of the oath of allegiance and the
presidential oath … or in willful violation of any other provision of, this
(b) to have conducted himself in a manner –
(i) which brings or is likely to bring the high office of (Vice-)
President into disrepute, ridicule or contempt; o
(ii) prejudicial or inimical to the economy or the security of the
(c) to be incapable of performing the functions of his by reason of infirmity
of body or mind….
Article 76 (1) There shall be a Cabinet which shall consist of the President, the Vice-
President, and not less than ten and not more than nineteen Ministers of State.
Article 83 (1) There shall be a National Security Council which shall consist of –
(a) the President;
(b) the Vice-President …
(2) The President shall preside at meetings of the national Security Council
and in his absence the Vice-President shall preside. …
Article 201 There shall be established a Police Council which shall consist of –
(a) the Vice-President, who shall be chairman ….
Article 206 There shall be established a Prison Service Council which shall consists of –
(a) the Vice-President, who shall be chairman ….
Article 211 There shall be established an Armed Forces Council which shall consist of –
(a) the Vice-President, who shall be chairman ….
The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (Amendment) Act, 1996 (Act 527) amended
Articles 201, 206 and 210, to remove he constitutional role of the Vice-President as the
chairman of the Police Council, the Prison Service Council and the Armed Forces Council.
The power to appointment the chairman of the Police and Prison Service Councils were
now vested in the President in consultation with the Council of State; and in the case of
the Armed Forces Council the chairman shall be the President or his nominee.
The above provisions on the Vice President followed closely those of the 1979
Constitution (Articles 63, 70, 168, 173). For example, by making the Vice President the
chairman of both the Armed Forces and Police Council, the Constituent Assembly not
only took a cue from the 1979 Constitution which sought to shore up the position of the
vice presidency (Articles 168 &173, 1979 Constitution) but also extended it with the
inclusion of the Chairmanship of the Police Service Council.3
Article 35(7) of the 1992 Constitution makes provision for ‘reasonable regional and
gender balance in recruitment and appointment to public services’. Though not
specifically stated in the context of the choice of presidential running mates, there is no
doubt that the two factors have to some extent, (as later discussed) influenced such
Ghana has had three vice presidents so far in the Fourth Republic: Mr. Kow Nkensen
Arkaah (1993-1997), Professor John Evans Atta Mills (1997-2001) and Alhaji Aliu
Mahama (2001- to date). In the following analysis we reflect on the tenures of each of
them with particular emphasis on mode of running mate selection, ticket balancing,
assigned roles and the nature of succession bid.
The 1992 Transition
When in the 1991-92 period the PNDC finally decided to return Ghana to constitutional
rule, it planned to craft a transition that would secure it self-succession. That strategy
affected several aspects of the transition process including the eventual choice of the
running who became the first vice president in the Fourth Republic. The National
Democratic Congress (NDC) which emerged as the political vehicle for Rawlings
presidential ambition went into alliance with two other parties – the Nkrumahist-
leaning National Convention Party (NCP) and another Rawlings vehicle, Every Ghanaian
Living Everywhere (EGLE).
The NCP, founded by Kwaku Boateng, a minister under Nkrumah, had some PNDC
functionaries4 who allegedly masterminded K. N. Arkaah’s election as NCP presidential
candidate and the party’s subsequent alliance with the NDC. Arkaah,5 an MP in the in
the Third Republic6 cunningly wrestled the leadership of the NCP from its founder, a plot
which led to Boateng’s resignation7 from the party but earned Arkaah the alliance
running mate to Rawlings and eventually the vice presidency (Oquaye 2004:509;
Frempong 2007: 147). For the NDC in 1992, association with the Nkrumahist legacy
appeared more significant in its choice of a running mate than north-south, religious or
The four other parties that emerged to contest the November 1992 presidential election
were the Danquah-Busiaist New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by renowned historian Adu
Boahen, and three Nkrumahist parties: ex-President Hilla Limann’s People’s National
Convention (PNC), the National Independence Party (NIP) led by industrialist Kwabena
Darko and the retired General E. A. Erskine-led People’s Heritage Party (PHP). In their
respective choices of running mates, the NPP, PNC and PHP went for north-south
balance while the NIP chose gender.9
The 1992 Presidential Election: The Party Tickets
Party Presidential Candidate Running Mate
National Democratic Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings Kow Nkensen Arkaah
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Prof. Albert Adu Boahen Alhaji R. I. Alhassan
People’s National Dr. Hilla Limann Dr. Isaac N. Chinebuah
National Independence Kwabena Darko Prof. Naa Afarley Sackeyfio
People’s Heritage Party Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Erskine Alhaji Ibrahim Mahama
The outcome of the presidential poll gave the Rawlings-Arkaah ticket a 58.4% national
victory but it was significant how well the alliance performed in the respective home
regions of the candidates on the ticket. In the Volta Region, Rawlings’ home, the vote
was as high as 93.2% while in Arkaah’s Central Region it was 66.5%, the second largest
for the alliance nationwide.
The Arkaah Vice Presidency
The ‘Progressive Alliance’ which clinched victory in 1992 turned out to be very
inconvenient as interpersonal acrimony of unprecedented proportions emerged within
the presidency between President Rawlings and Vice President Arkaah (Frempong
Vice President Arkaah soon found his party increasingly sidelined by the NDC; and his
position bereft of its powers. Signs of tension between the two alliance partners were
apparent following the 1992 parliamentary election. Some individual members of the
NCP who lost the parliamentary poll became convinced that the circumstances of their
defeat strongly indicated that opposition charges of rigging10 in the presidential
elections should not have been ignored easily (Jonah 1998: 91). In government, the NCP
found itself not only cheated out of the distribution of ministerial positions but was
dissatisfied with the anti-Nkrumah posture of Rawlings and somewhat embarrassed by
their continued separation from mainstream Nkrumahist front (Ibid). The party became
increasingly sidelined. When the most prominent NCP representation in government,
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Forson, resigned very early in the
administration, Foreign Minister Obed Asamoah assumed additional responsibility for
that portfolio for the rest of the first term.
These intra-alliance ‘indecencies’ were nothing compared to the situation in which Vice
President Arkaah found himself. He was denied his constitutional right of chairing the
cabinet in the absence of the president and he did not have an official residence. Not
surprisingly, P. V. Obeng, Presidential Advisor on Governmental Affairs, once christened
‘Prime Minister’ played a more high profile role in government. Arkaah also survived a
sex scandal – the Jemima Yalley affair (Frempong 2007: 143). On his part, Arkaah
proved rather disloyal. For instance, in a 1995 May Day speech, the sitting vice president
asked the country to revolt against the VAT system arguing that the 17.5% tax as
implemented was not the policy as taken at cabinet meeting (Ayee 2007a: 174-177). But
the clearest manifestation of the inter-personal acrimony of unprecedented proportions
between the president and his vice was the widely-reported-but-vehemently-denied
physical assault on Arkaah by Rawlings at cabinet meeting on 28 December 1995. Part of
the NCP led by Arkaah eventually left the alliance but Arkaah stuck to his post till the
end of the term, and in the process, made history as the sitting vice president who also
became the running mate on the opposition (Great Alliance) ticket (Frempong 2007:
143). Under the circumstances, the question of the first vice president succeeding his
president therefore did not arise at all.
The rift between Rawlings and Arkaah confirmed that it is difficult to cement and
sustain ill-conceived alliances, particularly, when leaders of alliance partners want to
keep a ‘master-master’ relationship. Perhaps, the positive lesson is that since then
presidential candidates have been careful to choose persons they would be comfortable
to work with. Far worse for Ghana’s democratic development was the fact that the NDC-
dominated first Parliament was pressurized into amending the 1992 Constitution to
remove the constitutional powers of the Vice President to chair the Police, the Prison
Service and the Armed Forces Councils.11
Run–up to Election ‘96
In 1996, the NDC and its allies retained Rawlings as presidential candidate who had to
choose a new running mate to replace the embittered and controversial Arkaah.
Rawlings had several options: he could select a Northerner not only to strike a
geographical balance but more so to reward the three northern regions for their
unflinching loyalty to and support for him; or he could select a long-time ally from the
PNDC days. Rawlings however sprang a surprise by selecting a hitherto politically
unknown internal revenue commissioner, John E. A. Mills (Frempong 2007:145).
A confluence of factors informed the choice of Mills. Given the stand-off between him
and Arkaah, Rawlings wanted somebody with a clean image who had no political
constituency and would be politically dependent on him, and not present an obstacle to
Mrs. Rawlings’ aspirations for the presidential candidature in 2000. The NDC’s strategy
of projecting itself as ‘the party that can lay genuine claim to Nkrumah’s legacy’ also
played a part as Mills has had a brief spell at the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute
at Winneba. Part of the reasoning also lay in the calculation that the NDC desperately
needed to win the Western and Central Regions.12 Mills was expected to help swing the
vote by virtue of being a Fanti, the largest ethnic group in Central Region (Jeffries 1998:
The opposition NPP had gone into alliance, the Great Alliance, with the People’s
Convention Party (PCP) – an amalgam of Nkrumahist groups/parties, which seriously
impacted on the choice of both the presidential candidate and running mate for the
alliance. The two parties had separately chosen their presidential candidates and the
process of determining how they would fill the two positions got unduly drawn out, not
least because of the surprise election of Arkaah as the PCP presidential candidate
(Frempong 2007:145). The self-proclaimed ‘Stubborn Cat’13 Arkaah, who clearly rode on
the crest of his 28 December ordeal, initiated a bitter but somewhat muted struggled
for the alliance presidential slot, against the NPP candidate John Kufuor, until he
grudgingly accepted the running mate slot in September 1996, barely three months
before the elections (Ibid:146).
Under the circumstances the two major political parties ignored the north-south and
religious balance in their choice of running mates and ended up selecting candidates
from the same Central Region. Ex-President Limann’s PNC was the only other party that
contested the 1996 presidential election. Under its new leader, Edward Mahama, a
medical practitioner, the PNC selected a lady, Adeline Deelo-Mate as his running mate.
Presidential Tickets for Election 1996
Party Presidential Candidate Running Mate
National Democratic Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings Prof. John Evans Atta Mills
New Patriotic Party John Agyekum Kufuor Kow Nkensen Arkaah
People’s National Dr. Edward N. Mahama Adeline Deelo-Mate
The contributions of the two running mates to their respective tickets as far as their
home region was concern were quite intriguing. The NDC with Mills suffered a
significant 10.8% depreciation in its 1992 vote in the Central Region from 66.5% to
55.7%, the worst margin for the party nationally. On the other hand the NPP’s vote in
the same region appreciated by 16.9% from 26% to 42.9%. By its vote, the Central
Region, arguably the most politically conscious, registered its displeasure at the manner
Arkaah had been treated as vice president. But the NDC won a majority nationally and
Mills emerged the new Vice President.
The Mills Vice Presidency
Mills had come to the Vice Presidency with a specialization in Tax Law, a comprehensive
survey of Ghana’s tax system, membership of the Ghana Tax Reform Commission and
for seven years as the Commissioner of Ghana’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not
surprisingly he served as the chair of the Economic Management Team (Agyeman-Duah
When Mills took over from Arkaah, Rawlings entrusted him with the responsibility, top
of which was heading the NDC government’s economic management team. As Rawlings
stomped about the country embroiling himself in all manner of headline-grabbing
gestures, Mills quietly worked behind the scenes as head of government; hence
Rawlings had not qualms in imposing Mills as his successor(Accra Daily Mail, 9-4-08: 1 &
3). Significantly, P.V. Obeng’s replacement as Presidential Advisor on Presidential
Affairs, Mahama Iddrisu, a relatively low-key role compared to Mills.
Mills survived as a vice president being the opposite of his successor; instead of
confrontation, he rather complemented his boss, insisting on ‘peace’ instead of ‘war’
and presenting a gentlemanly alternative to Rawlings’ boisterous attitude (Daily Guide,
30 April 2008: 4)
The decision of a sitting President to endorse the one who could succeed him was based
on the trust that the endorsed was competent to discharge the duties as
president.(Daily Graphic, 9-4-08: 1&3). Rawlings endorsement of Mills to as NDC
presidential candidate therefore was a sign that Rawlings had confidence in Mills’
competencies, but the perception would remain that Rawlings wanted to have his third
term through him.
Running Mate Selection for Election 2000
Seven political parties contested the 2000 presidential election: NDC (with its allies EGLE
and DPP), NPP, PNC, the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the National Reform Party
(NRP), the Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP) and the United Ghana Movement
(UGM). Since the year 2000 represented the first time in Ghana’s history that a sitting
president was completing his constitutional two-terms it brought into sharper focus the
issue of political succession and the role the sitting vice president was going to play in it.
Incumbent President Rawlings declared his preference for his Vice, Mills, as his party’s
presidential candidate in June 1998, two and half year’s ahead of Election 2000, at a
party rally in Agona Swedru in the Central Region. This declaration, made apparently to
erase suspicions about Rawlings’ intention to seek a third term or to craft a transition to
pave way for his wife, had serious implications for the party. On the one hand, it
confirmed Rawlings confidence in Mills but effectively dashed the presidential
aspirations of party stalwarts like Attorney General (and former Foreign Minister) Obed
Asamoah and Defence Minister (later Presidential Advisor) Mahama Iddrisu (Ibid: 152),
The two politicians later became strong contenders for the party’s second slot after
initial speculations that First Lady Agyeman-Rawlings or her close confidante and local
government minister Cecilia Johnson would be imposed on Mills, faded away.
In support of Iddrisu, the Northerners had once again raised the issue of geographical
balance and a reward for their loyalty and unflinching support for the party. They also
argued that since the out-going president was from Volta Region, it was unfair for
another Voltarian to assume the running mate slot (West Africa, 17-23 April 2000:17).
But Iddrisu’s chances were dimmed by lack of unity among the northern regions and the
emergence of several other names14, from those areas (Frempong 2001: 154).
Asamoah, a Voltarian, had waged a long campaign through his association with the
Progressive Voluntary Associations and the Verandah Boys and Girls Club. A number of
publications appeared in the media extolling Asamoah as the ‘obvious choice’.15 The two
alliance partners EGLE and DPP also persistently expressed their support for Asamoah,
just like a group calling itself Northern Consultative Congress (Daily Graphic,17 July
2000; 21 August 2000)
It was therefore one of the ironies of fate that the mantle of NDC running mate fell on
Martin Amidu from the Upper East Region, the deputy attorney general, whom
Asamoah left to run his office while he went campaigning (Frempong 2007:154). Mills
indicated that given his newness in Ghanaian politics, he sought for somebody with
sufficient political experience and exposure to serve as a bridge between the PNDC and
the NDC and to give expression to his ‘continuity in change’ slogan (West Africa, 18-24
September 2000: 12). Clearly, these attributes suited Asamoah or Iddrisu better, but
there were indications that the eventual nomination of Amidu was influenced
somewhat by Mills’ fear of being dictated to by Asamoah who was the presidential
candidate’s former lecturer and senior in the NDC (Ahiawordor 2001:112). For Amidu,
his selection was ‘a glowing tribute to the struggle of the many unrecognized heroes of
the NDC, the foot soldiers, the party activists as well as the cadres (West Africa, 18-24
September 2000: 12).
The NPP had re-elected Kufour its presidential candidate in August 1998, but the
selection of his running mate delayed till September in the election year. The party
engaged in a ‘cat-and-mouse’ game, with the NDC, each waiting for the other to
nominate its running mate first (Frempong 2007:154)
Initial speculations in the NPP, ran in circles around the then national organizer, Courage
Quashigah, to counter the NDC’s ‘World Bank’ status in his native Volta Region, and a
gender- and geographical-balancing act with Hawa Yakubu, a vibrant former MP from
Upper East (Ibid). However, by mid-2000 a strong lobby had emerged for an all-Akan
ticket with Nana Akufo Addo, MP for Abuakwa, as Kufuor’s running mate. Among the
arguments put forward were: that though an Akan, Nana was not an Ashanti, that he
had come second in the flagbearer race; that the NPP needed a firebrand running mate
to partner the docile Kufuor; that competence rather than ethnicity should be the
determinant factor; and that the choice of non-Akans by the Danquah-Busia tradition
since 1979 had not brought them the much-needed victory. This strategy, which
opponents likened to an ‘own goal’ however fizzled out when it was revealed that Nana
himself in 1998 had advocated that the running mate ‘must broaden and enhance the
electoral appeal of the ticket by the nature of the ethnic or gender or religious
contribution that person will bring to the ticket’ (The Dispatch, 21-27 July 2000, p.12;
At last, barely a fortnight before nomination day, Kufuor’s final choice was Alhaji Aliu
Mahama who came from Yendi (Northern Region), an unknown quantity in Ghanaian
politics, but reportedly wealthy and a benefactor to Kufuor and the party in the region.
It was expected that being Muslim would be a big attraction for votes among Muslims
and in the Zongos. His ethnic background was also to help relax the perception of the
NPP as an Akan party. As Aliu himself said in his acceptance speech, by his selection, the
NPP had a ‘forest boy, (referring to Kufuor’s countryside background) and a ‘Zongo boy
(his own stranger’ or part migrant status, to ensure victory for the Party (Agyeman Duah
2006: 79). Perhaps in 2000, part of the attraction to Aliu was the fact that he was
married to the daughter of Imoru Egala the leader from the north that facilitated
Limann’s ascendancy to power in 1979 (Amamoo 2007:409). Four years later, Kufuor
revealed that Aliu was helping him woo someone else from the Northern Region, until
he had decided on more careful consideration to choose him (Agyeman-Duah 2006:
There is no doubt that Kufuor had taken the north-south balance so seriously that at
some stage he made overtures to the PNC presidential candidate, Edward Mahama .
This was, however, rejected by the latter, not least because it was too reminiscent of
the failed 1996 Great Alliance (Kufuor-Arkaah) ticket (The Chronicle, 21 February 2008,
In both camps, the final suprise choices of running mates caused ripples. Within the
NDC, Asamoah felt bitten to it twice and one of his staunch supporters, the vociferous
Faustina Nelson, a chief campaigner for Asamoah, got completely lost from the NDC
campaign radar. Also EGLE strongman and deputy information minister Owuraku Amofa
deserted his post and left for US in protest. Similarly, the second vice chairman of the
NPP, Wayo Seini who had a particular interest in the running mate slot, resigned
abruptly from active politics (Frempong 2007:154)
The choice of northern running mates to partner southern presidential candidates was
replicated by the CPP and NRP. The CPP flag bearer George Hagan selected Ibrahim
Mahama as the running mate. The CPP flagbearer race had gone into a run-off between
Hagan and George Aggudey, and Mahama who had come third had thrown his support
behind Hagan(Frempong 2001:154). The NRP candidate Augustus Goosie Tanoh chose a
northerner, Cletus Kosiba, as running mate.(Frempong 2001:154) On the other hand,
the only presidential candidate of northern descent, E. N. Mahama (PNC), choose a
southern running mate, B. B. Ntim, a Kwahu from the Eastern Region.16
Presidential Tickets for Election 2000
Party Presidential Candidate Running Mate
National Democratic Prof. John E. A. Mills Martin Amidu
New Patriotic Party John. A. Kufuor Alhaji Aliu Mahama
People’s National Dr. Edward N. Mahama Bannerman B. Ntim
Convention People’s Party Prof. George P. Hagan Alhaji Ibrahim Mahama
National Reform Party Augustus Tanoh Cletus J. Kosiba
Great Consolidated Popular Dan Lartey Edward Ladzaglah
United Ghana Movement Charles Wereko-Brobbey Larry Adotey Addo
The 2000 presidential election did not produce a first round winner17 but in the run-off
the NPP’s Kufuor-Mahama ticket defeated the NDC’s Mills-Amidu ticket by 56.9%-
43.1%. How did the carefully-chosen geographical ticket-balancing contribute to the
respective fortunes of the two major parties? The intriguing fact is that in the first round
both the losing and winning running mates failed improve their parties’ performance in
their respective home regions. Overall the NDC lost 17% over its 1996 performance
(from 69 to 52%) in Upper East (Amidu’s home region) and the NPP lost by 2.4% from
32% to 29.6% in the Northern Region (Mahama’s home region). The details are even
Voting Pattern in the Home Region (Upper East) of NDC Vice Presidential Candidate
(Martin Amidu) for Election 2000
Constituency % Vote for % Vote for % Change from % Vote for
NDC in 1996 NDC in 2000 1996 to 2000 NDC in Run-
Bawku Central 65.6 51.8 -13.8 57.6
Bawku West 64.0 62.4 - 1.6 63.9
Binduri 76.3 71.1 - 4.8 81.5
Bolgatanga 60.9 35.1 -25.8 36.4
Bongo 77.4 56.4 -21.0 66.4
Builsa North 75.7 39.4 -36.3 48.6
Builsa South 73.5 54.4 -19.1 55.4
Chiana –Paga 68.9 66.2 - 2.7 67.0
Garu-Tempane 82.3 59.8 -22.5 71.8
Nabdam 76.5 51.3 -25.2 59.1
Navrongo Central 53.0 41.4 -12.4 40.0
Talensi 73.4 43.9 -29.5 49.6
Source: Electoral Commission, 1996, 2000
The NDC’s vote depreciated in all the 12 constituencies (by margins between 1% and
37%) in the Upper East on the 1996 vote.18(See the table above). Even in Martin Amidu’s
home constituency of Garu-Tempane the party lost 22.5%.
In the Northern Region, the NPP’s vote in 2000 decreased in 11 out of the 23
constituencies over 1996.19 Aliu Mahama, until 2000, a prominent Tamale-based
contractor and a former assemblyman, witnessed a percentage loss of over 10% each
for his party in the two Tamale constituencies (Choggu-Tishigu -10.2% and Gukpegu-
Sabongida-10.1%) as well as 9.7% in his home constituency of Yendi. Of the 12
constituencies in which there was improvement, as many as eight20 fell below 5%;
indeed in Savelugu and Wulensi, the improvement was as low as 0.5%. And all the
remaining four were less than 10% 21(See table below).
Voting Pattern in the Home Region (Northern) of NPP Vice Presidential Candidate (Aliu
Mahama) for Election 2000
Constituency % Vote for NPP % Vote for NPP % Change from % Vote for
in 1996 in 2000 1996 to 2000 NPP in Run-
Bimbilla 31.7 33.4 - 1.7 36.7
Bole 17.6 21.5 - 3.9 33.0
Bunkrugu- 9.3 17.4 + 8.1 48.7
Chereponi 19.6 16.1 - 3.5 46.9
Choggo-Tishigu 47.1 36.9 -10.2 61.4
Damongo- 44.4 42.1 - 1.9 54.8
Gukpegu- 53.0 43.9 - 9.1 62.1
Gushiegu-Karaga 47.1 35.3 -11.8 47.5
Kpandai 13.9 22.8 + 8.9 33.6
Kumbungu 34.8 17.9 -16.9 38.2
Mion 52.1 26.4 -25.7 51.1
Nalerigu 6.5 10.1 + 3.6 45.4
Nanton 34.7 39.0 + 4.3 48.4
Saboba 16.9 21.3 + 4.4 46.1
Salaga 43.8 40.9 - 2.9 49.5
Savelugu 29.5 30.0 + 0.5 38.0
Sawla-Kalba 9.2 14.5 + 5.3 30.9
Tolon 40.4 36.3 - 4.1 52.8
West Mamprusi 16.7 5.3 -10.6 56.6
Wulensi 37.2 37.7 + 0.5 42.5
Yapei-Kasawugu 30.9 29.9 - 1.0 45.7
Yendi 61.3 51.0 - 9.7 60.4
Zabzugu-Tatale 20.8 28.3 + 7.5 45.8
NATONAL 32.0 29.6 -2.4 35.5
However, in the 2000 presidential run-off, there were appreciable improvements for
both the NPP and the NDC in the Northern and Upper East respectively. In the Northern
Region, NPP’s vote appreciated considerably leading to a leap from 29.6% in the first
round to 48.9% in the run-off. Similarly, for the Upper East, the NDC improved from 52%
The Mahama Vice Presidency: The First Term
Though Aliu22 admitted that his choice was a surprise since he did not have any
aspiration to become a politician, he came to the office with some political experience.
In 1978 he was elected councilor to the Eastern Dagbomba District Council and in 1979
openly supported the Popular Front Party led by Victor Owusu and Yakubu Tali, Tolon
Na for which he as a civil servant was punished with a transfer from Tamale to Cape
Coast. (Ghana Review International, Issue 110, 2005: 34). In 1990, he became an
Assembly member of the Tamale Municipal Assembly, where he served as chairman of
the Economic Development Committee of the Tamale-Loiusville Sister State Committee
(http://www.modernghana.com ). The enormity of his new office however dawned on
him when within the first month into his term when he represented Ghana at the
Franco-African Summit in Cameroon (Ghana Review International, Issue 110, 2005: 35).
In the first year in office and the President operated in the State House and that
apparently made him number two in the administrative structure; but even then there
were indications that he was not in the mainstream of the administration. For instance,
a week before, the Vice President had insisted that the government would not rush to
decide on HIPC only for it to be declared in the budget statement of 9 March 2001
(Frempong 2007: 158) Unlike his predecessor he has not been in charge of the National
Economic Team, or the head of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Presidency.
He was also not put in charge of the many Presidential Special Initiatives (Agyeman-
Duah 2006: 105). Aliu therefore was left with purely run-of-the-mill constitutional
assignments as the chairing of the Armed Forces Council or performing public relations
that his boss assigned him.
During the first term the Vice President championed with a ‘Campaign against
Indiscipline’ to ensure that discipline prevailed in all spheres of society. Though it
enjoyed much public support, it floundered basically because it was not taken up as a
government project (Accra Daily Mail, 9-4-08: 1 & 3). But Aliu assesses of the Campaign
differently. To him, it chalked significant success in terms of awareness creation about
the threat of indiscipline to national progress but lacked the positive behavioural change
and strict enforcement of laws that must complement that awareness23 (Ghana Review
International, Issue 110, 2005: 35).
Aliu Mahama’s vice presidency was undermined by the crisis in his ethnic Dagbon
following the killing of the Dagbon King, Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, March 2002. the
Dagbon crisis, a largely intra-familial feud (between Andanis and Abudus) has a long
history of partisan and political overtones.24 Apart from the Vice President being an
Abudu, there were a large number of Abudus in the top hierarchy of the security
apparatus, including the Minister of Interior who also doubled as MP for Yendi, and the
National Security Advisor. Under the circumstances, whatever the NPP government did
could not shake off the perception that either by omission or commission it facilitated
the murder of the king who belonged to the Andani faction; but the Vice President’s
stone public silence over the matter was most worrying (Frempong 2006: 169).
For more than two years, he kept quiet over the crisis and when he broke his silence in
August 2004 in the heat of the election of the election campaign, it was to indicate that
some detractors were trying to score cheap political point from the unfortunate incident
(Frempong 2006: 172; Daily Graphic, 10 August 2004: 5). The Veep’s comment which
came at a meeting with the Zongo community in Takoradi in the Western Region, as it
were away from the ‘crime scene’, was a lame excuse that no government which
wanted peace and progress would engage in or condone an action that undermine its
own goals (Ibid).
On the whole Vice President Aliu, who like President Kufuor has mild-mannered
disposition, worked harmoniously with him, successfully acted on the many occasions
that the President had to travel abroad, and on a few occasions represented in the
international arena. His vice presidency also brought closer relations between Muslim
and Christians by the extent to which he participated in Christian ceremonies and
activities and by how he related with his Christian boss.
Running Mate Selection for Election 2004
Four presidential candidates contested the 2004 presidential election: incumbent
President Kufour in a re-election bid for the NPP, ex-Vice President Mills25 in a second
attempt for the office on the NDC ticket, former PNC presidential candidate Edward
Mahama leading a three-party Grand Coalition,26 and for the first time, George Aggudey
of the CPP. Like in the previous elections, running mates’ selections assumed dynamics
of their own, particularly for the two dominant parties. Aggudey was partnered by an
even lesser known Osei Ameyaw from the Brong Ahafo; while Mahama selected the
leader of EGLE, Danny Ofori-Atta; but for the NPP and NDC the political games of 2000
For the incumbent NPP, the conventional wisdom was not to change a winning team,
but a number of factors did not make it a straight forward matter; also the party’s
constitution did not make that automatic. The Dagbon crisis cast some initial doubts on
the Vice President’s re-endorsement. A section of the NPP had argued that, as an
Abudu, Veep Aliu Mahama would be a liability to the NPP ticket if he was retained as
running mate in 2004. The NDC-friendly Ghana Palaver reported that real motive of a
strong anti-Aliu Mahama lobby in the NPP was to scuttle his bid for the presidency in
2008. Allegedly also, the presence of Aliu as vice president would disturb a carefully
worked out design to consolidate Ashanti dominance of the NPP by fielding Trade
Minister Alan Kyeremanten for ‘President 2008’27 (Ghana Palaver, 23-26 July 2004: 8;
Frempong 2006: 170). The President inadvertently fuelled the speculation when earlier
in 2003, he declared it was too premature to think about his running mate for 2004
(Agyeman-Duah 2003: 260)
The Vice President, however, responded to those media speculations stoically. While he
conceded that it was the prerogative of the president to choose his running mate, he
was insistent that he had done his job to the best of his ability, loyally and honestly in
partnership with, and respectful of, the President (Ghana Review International, Issue
110, 2005: 33). No serious contenders emerged and in the end and at a party congress
in Kumasi, the President re-nominated the Vice President.
On 12 October 2004 during a visit of some Muslim leaders and Zongo chiefs to the
Castle, the President revealed that his Vice had complemented him well. According to
him: “the Vice President and I have been working together harmoniously … he possesses
qualities that would enable me to translate into fruition, my vision of a united and a
developed country’ (Ghana Review International, Issue 110, 2005: 33; Agyeman-Duah
After Mills re-nomination as NDC flagbearer in December 2002, the two years ahead of
Election 2004 should have allowed him to select his running mate early enough, but as it
turned out, the NDC running mate was out-doored late September 2004 after Aliu had
been re-endorsed for the NPP. Significantly, in 2004, Amidu, the party’s running mate
for 2000, who had christened himself ‘Shadow Vice President’, was not in reckoning for
re-nomination, since the regional focus had shifted to the larger and more populous and
heterogeneous Northern Region. Mills, however, was torn between a Muslim and
Christian. While there was the general belief within the NDC that the two Christians on
the party’s presidential ticket in 2000 had not been helpful; there was also the
contention that the affable John Mahama, NDC MP for Bole, though a Christian could
attract the floating voters so vital for the party’s recapture of power.
Late September 2004, the lot of the NDC fell on Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, the MP for
Kumbungu in the Northern Region, and the Employment and Social Welfare Minister in
NDC’s second term. Mumuni, a well-respected lawyer, was also a vocal member of the
Parliamentary Legal and Constitutional Committee. Ethnically speaking, Mumuni, like
the NPP running mate, is a Dagbon, but as an Andani found himself on the opposite side
of the intra-familial feud, in an election in which the Dagbon crisis had become a crucial
issue. The Northern Region also became an important battle ground for Election 2004.
Clearly, Aliu Mahama went into Election 2004 with better name recognition than
Mumuni but the biggest issue relating to the vice presidential candidates was Mumuni’s
motor accident under mysterious circumstances two day after his nomination on 28
September 2007 (Ghana Review International, Issue 110, 2005: 17). The accident
effectively took Mumuni out of the campaign but the major issue was the politicization
of the tragedy.
Mumuni’s accident on 28 September 2004, two days after being declared the NDC
running mate, introduced another dynamic into the electoral process – the politicization
of a tragedy. Irresponsible and shockingly insensitive comments and conspiracy theories
swell around the victim and the accident. The police was flaked for hastily towing away
the accident vehicle and not waiting for an independent investigator to examine it
before. Some NDC officials including General Secretary Josiah Aryeh, claimed he smelt
an ‘elephant’ instead of a rat, inferring that it was an NPP plot to assassinate the NDC
running mate. On the other hand, the dawn accident and the alleged mysterious call
were linked to some rituals at the command of the ex-president or with amorous
connotations. `Thus conspiracy theories were spun to score political points and
questions raised about the integrity and fidelity of the accident victim as a husband.
Admittedly, with his new position, it was unexpected that his accident became a matter
of such speculation (The Chronicle, 11 October 2004, p.5)28.
Presidential Tickets for Election 2004
Party Presidential Candidate Running Mate
National Democratic J. A. Kufuor Alhaji Aliu Mahama
National Democratic Prof. J. E. A. Mills Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni
Convention People’s Party George Aggudey Osei Ameyaw
People’s National Dr. E. N. Mahama Danny Ofori-Atta
Convention (PNC)/ Grand
Nationally, the Kufuor-Mahama NPP ticket was re-elected with 52.5%-44.6% against the
Mills-Mumuni NDC ticket. The Grand Coalition had 1.92 and the CPP, 1.0%. Once again
the performance of the running mates of the two dominant parties in their home
region, Northern, made for interesting analysis. For incumbent Vice President Aliu
Mahama, his party’s regional vote of 35.5% was only 5.9% better than its first round
performance of 29.6% in 2000; but a significant 13.4% less than the run-off. It is also
significant at the Tamale-based of the Vice President the NPP’s vote depreciated
between 15% and 20% over those of 200029 and his Yendi home constituency saw only
5%. There was the general perception in tamale in particular, that the Vice President
and his government had not done enough to unravel the mystery surrounding the Ya
Na, the Dagbon king.
Voting Pattern in the Home Region (Northern) of NPP Vice Presidential Candidate (Aliu
Mahama) and NDC Vice Presidential Candidate (Muhammad Mumuni) for Election
Constituency % Vote % Vote for % % Vote % Vote %
for NPP NPP in Change for NDC for NDC Change
in 2000 2004 2000- in 2000 in 2004 2000-
Bimbilla 33.4 48.0 57.9 48.0
Bole 21.5 34.0 66.2 62.0
Burunkrugu-Yunyoo 17.4 30.0 50.6 50.0
Chereponi 16.1 48.0 48.6 41.0
Damongo-Daboya 42.4 48.0 46.0 47.0
Gushiegu 35.3 50.0 54.3 48.0
Karaga* 35.0 64.0
Kpandai 22.8 36.0 67.6 60.0
Kumbungu 17.9 18.0 59.5 80.0
Mion 26.4 40.0 50.1 47.0
Nalerigu-Gambaga 10.1 29.0 46.6 40.0
Nanton 39.0 39.0 52.6 59.0
Saboba 21.3 53.0 54.3 43.0
Salaga 40.9 47.0 51.3 48.0
Savelugu 30.0 32.0 60.0 67.0
Sawla-Tuna-Kalba 14.5 22.0 69.1 70.0
Tamale Central* 34.0 64.0
Tamale North** 36.9 20.0 38.9 77.0
Tamale South** 43.9 23.0 38.9 75.0
Tolon 36.3 50.6
Walewale** 5.3 29.0 37.5 37.0
Wulensi 37.7 48.0 56.5 49.0
Yagaba-Kubori* 31.0 47.0
Yapei-Kusawgu 29.9 58.6
Yendi 51.0 55.0 40.0 42.0
Zabzugu-Tatale 28.3 60.1
REGIONAL 29.6 35.5 50.7 57.0
Electoral Commission, 2000 & 2004
*New constituencies created in 2003
** Renamed constituencies: Tamale North (Choggo-Tishigu), Tamale South (Gukpegu-
Sabongida) and Walewale (West Mamprusi)
Historic Second Term, Failed Succession Bid
By his re-election in 2004, Aliu made another history. Apart from being the only Muslim
to hold the high office of Vice President, he became the first Ghanaian to hold that
office twice. Perhaps with his presidential bid in mind, he pledged to work with others
to make northern Ghana a stronghold of the NPP, by first encouraging research into why
the people of the North did not vote massively for the NPP as he expected (Ghana
Review International, Issue 110, 2005: 35).
There is every indication that Vice President has served his second term as well as he did
the first. According to Amamoo (2007:409), Aliu since 2001 has “endeared himself to all
sections of the people, Christian and Muslims, Akans, Gas, Ewes, Ashantis, and Brongs. A
decent-spoken man, he is known for his high integrity and his ability to work as a team
player. A strict constitutionalist, he has never been known to want to upstage his boss,
with whom he has a good working relationship”. While in the public mind the Kufuor-
Aliu partnership has shown a successful cohabitation, the paradoxes inherent in a vice
It has become increasing evident that, in the second term, Kwadwo Mpianim, a long
time confidante of the President, who doubles as Minister of Presidential Affairs and
Chief of Staff, has been playing a more dominant role in the Kufuor Presidency than the
Vice President. Mpiani’s dominant and often controversial involvement in the 50 th
Anniversary Celebration, the Ghana International Airways, the Presidential Palace
project, etc, bears a testimony. It may be accidental but nevertheless significant that in
the President’s 394-page biography, Between Faith and History, the name of the Chief of
Staff appears twice as much as that the Vice President.30 In the six times that the Vice
President’s name appeared, it was largely in connection with his role as a ticket-
balancer and not his office as vice president, and in all cases his first name is misspelled
as ‘Alieu’ (Agyeman-Duah 2006: passim).
More significantly, President Kufour never publicly supported the presidential bid of his
Vice, who he had openly admitted complemented him so well. It was somewhat ironic
that the only Vice President to serve two terms had to compete to succeed his boss
together with one-and-half dozen others in a campaign which was marked, if not
marred, by perception that the President was supportive of somebody else.31
In the December 2007 NPP flagbearer race, Vice President Aliu, the self-acclaimed ‘Chief
Apprentice’, was beaten to a very distant third position by two others including the
President’s perceived favourite. It must also be emphasized that the Vice President did
not garner enough support from his own ‘kith and kin’. Though he was the only one of
the 18 aspirants from the North, his 146 votes fell far short of the 490 votes available
the three northern regions; an indication that he failed to cultivate a political
constituency of his own.
There is every indication that the first vice president to complete two terms would sink
into political oblivion after eight years in office. The situation however would have been
different if Kufuor’s motor accident on 14 November 2007 had been fatal. Aliu would
have assumed the Presidency to complete Kufuor’s unfinished term and would have
entered the NPP’s December 2007 flagbearer contest as the incumbent president.
Aliu’s political fate is in sharp contrast to his predecessor as vice president, Mills whose
dream of being president remains intact. After two failed attempts, Mills is in the race
on the ticket of the NDC for the proverbial ‘third visit to the shrine’. While a third defeat
however would spell doom for Mills political career, he may be taking consolation from
Richard Nixon who came to the Presidency eight years after he first lost it as a vice
president. The fact however is that Mills unlike Nixon, has an overbearing former boss
who still thinks must call the shots
Running Mate Selection for Election 2008
‘Running’ for the running mate position has been most intense in the run-up to Election
2008. Gender, region, religion have been canvassed and the virtues of ‘aspirants’ have
been extolled more than ever before. Also, in an unprecedented manner, there have
been attempts to draw in high profile public officials. To date, the opposition NDC is the
only party to have selected its running mate; but the process had been as intense as in
the on-going process in the incumbent NPP, and to a lesser extent, in the third parties.
The choice in the NDC wound down to three candidates: Muhammed Mumuni, the 2004
running mate; John Mahama, who in 2006 had been generally expected to have gone
for the flagbearer contest and Betty Mould Iddrisu, an international public servant and
gender advocate. With Mills still on the ticket retention of Mumuni would have
preserved the geographical, but more so, the religious balance. John Mahama, brought
along in addition to the geographical balance and twelve years parliamentary
experience, affability and objectivity likely to attract floating voters. And in Betty Iddrisu
was a combination of gender, public service and diverse background (an Ashanti-Ga
parentage, a Muslim and Northern connection by marriage).
The run-up to the final choice brought back recurrent struggle in the NDC over the
proper role of party founder Rawlings and family in the party. The former first lady,
Mrs. Agyeman-Rawlings had made a very strong but somewhat acrimonious32 case for
Betty Iddrisu, while some Muslim party activists in the North had protested the
apparent rejection of religious factor, but John Mahama was eventually selected by
presidential candidate Mills, in an apparent show of independence.
The choice of the NPP is not expected until August but if media speculation is any thing
to go by then NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo is confronted with a list taller than his 17
competitors in the flag bearer race. Gender, religion, region/ethnicity, experience and
public service, party roots, etc have combined in a weird manner to throw up several
names, but largely from people with Northern and often Muslim backgrounds.
Speculations about, gender, south-south or even all-Akan ticket, however, has not been
completely ruled out.33 What surprise does Akufo-Addo have for Ghanaians and to what
extent would be influenced by Mills choice of John Mahama. The ‘rejuvenated’ CPP is
currently giving conflicting signals, while pushing for alliance with the PNC, it is also
speaking of a female running mate.
Particularly since 2000, the choice of running mates has increasingly assumed such
national significance that is out of proportion to the powers conferred on the eventual
vice president by the Constitution or how much powers/functions the president is
prepared to cede/delegate.
If the choice of running mates has aimed at balancing the ticket by bringing on board
the home regions of the running mates, then for the two major parties, the outcomes
have not be too encouraging with the exception of Arkaah (in 1992 and most
surprisingly in 1996). In 1992, Arkaah’s home region (Central) gave the NDC 66.5%, the
highest beside the home region of the flag bearer, Volta with 93.2%. On the other hand,
the NPP running mate R. Alhassan could garner only 16.3% from the Northern Region,
compared to Adu Boahen’s 60.5% from Ashanti. In 1996 the NPP with Arkaah as running
mate had its fortunes in the Central Region improved from 26% in 1992 to 42.9% a
massive leap of 16.9%. On the other hand, the NDC in 1996 witnessed a significant
depreciation of 10.8% in Mills’ home, the Central Region; in 2000, Amidu did far worse
in his Upper East Region and in 2004, Mumuni did slightly better in Northern Region. In
the case of the NPP, it was the irony of the Election 2000 that the Northern Region, the
home of running mate, Aliu Mahama, was the only one in which the party witnessed a
fall in its percentage vote (from 32% in 1996 to 29.6% in 2000) in the first round
presidential election compared to nearly 10% improvement in the Ashanti, home region
of its presidential candidate Kufuor. Even in 2004, with Aliu Mahama as the incumbent
vice president, the NPP’s vote in the Northern Region appreciated by less than 6% (from
29.6% to 35.5%).
For a presidential candidate the vice president is the most important appointment, since
he is the only one a president cannot sack/dismiss within a specific term. He must
therefore be chosen carefully; if a wrong choice is made, the future vice president
would be around to unsettle the future president for long four years, as clearly
manifested in the Rawlings-Arkaah tenure.
The Arkaah and the Mills’ vice presidencies indicate contrasting fortunes of relations
with the presidency. The Arkaah era demonstrated that a vice president could gain
nothing by a challenge to the president but the loss of even the customary power that a
friendly president is willing to offer him, while Mills’ tenure confirmed that a vice
president could gain everything including presidential nomination by being an able
business manager of the government, serving his constitutional chief with loyal zeal.
Either way, it is particularly the case if the incumbent president is a very dominant figure
in the ruling party (as Rawlings in the NDC).
The Aliu tenure introduces another dimension. A vice presidential candidate selected
more for ticket-balancing rather for governance, would not necessarily receive the
president’s support to succeed him even after a long and loyal service. Aliu had the
added misfortune of coming from an area in which his tenure had failed to improve to
any appreciable level the support for his party.
The issue of succession to the presidency has also not been fully settled. No vice
president in Ghana has become a president yet. Under Rawlings, his virtual single-
handed nomination of Mills as his successor created problems within the party and
denied Mills the presidency; and in the case of Aliu, he had to contest a flagbearer
nomination without the support of his boss, and lost. Becoming a vice president
therefore has not guaranteed an automatic accession to the presidency.
It is also somewhat ironical that the NPP which is the only party to have retained a vice
presidential candidate could not sponsor him to bid for the presidency while the NDC
has kept faith with its one-term vice president for three consecutive presidential
No vice president as yet has reached the presidency through tragedy, but had President
Kufour’s 14 November 2007 motor accident proved fatal, Ghanaians would have been
handed a ‘President’ Aliu Mahama’, who, as amply demonstrated by the outcome of the
December 2007 NPP flagbearer contest, was not popular enough within his own party
for that position.
It should be interesting be interesting how the experience of Vice President Aliu
Mahama would be tapped by a new NPP administration, should it be returned to power
in December 2008; Chairmanship of the Council of State or a high profile ambassadorial
No female has become a vice president yet not least because the two dominant parties,
NPP and NDC, have not yet selected a female running mate. The two ladies so far
selected in 1992 and 1996 were by third parties, the NIP and the PNC respectively,
which polled less than 5% in the respective elections. Until 2008, the choice a female
running mate in the NDC and NPP, which could have given a brighter chance, has
remained at the level of speculations. The determined effort in the NDC in 2008 to have
Betty Iddrisu nominated fell through in the last minute and although a number of names
have emerged the chances of a female running mate in the NPP is still slight.
Conclusion: The Future Role of the Vice Presidency
Those who advocate reform are in good company. In America proposals to reform the
Vice Presidency and to make the office more potent and desirable have been repeatedly
made since 1787 (Rossiter 1948: 387).
The actual functions performed by a vice president of Ghana must be reviewed in order
to improve public knowledge and understanding of what is demanded of him. The
constitution defines broadly the functions of a Vice President as performing the role of
the President in the event that was out of the country. Even then, can the vice president
acting in the absence of the President fire a minister or make a substantive ministerial
appointment; as acting commander-in chief order the movement of troops?34
Also, apart from the now amended chairmanship of the three security-related councils,
the constitution did not provide any actual functions beyond the broad definition. It
failed to exhaustively spell out his core functions which were left to the President to
The Vice President as at now is riding under the shadow of the President and therefore
cannot take credit for what the president does, but when the functions are clearly spelt
out Ghanaians would be better placed to hold him/her accountable and to judge his
ability to be elected president
There is the need to focus on the overburdened presidency in proposing reform of the
vice presidency. The mere recital of the major functions of the president as provided in
Chapter Eight of the 1992 Constitution is a sobering experience – head of state and of
government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, custodian of executive authority,
convener and chair of cabinet, the chief appointing authority, sole director of foreign
relations and leading formulator of foreign policy, chief initiator of bills, leader of a
major political party, etc. The duties are plainly too numerous for one man to handle.
In any proposal for relieving the president of part of his massive workload, the Vice
President comes in handy. There is the need to transfer certain fundamental
responsibilities of an administrative nature from the president to the vice president,
with corresponding authority and added prestige to make the job more attractive.
We must however be conscious of a number of issues. Will it be easy fixing the
boundaries between the presidency and the vice presidency? Will a vice president of
authentic prestige and authority not be in a position to offer a serious challenge to the
presidency itself? What president would delegate real powers to a man whom he
cannot dismiss or remove within four years, in case of conflict or disloyalty; or i what
prevents a vice president given added powers from disagreeing completely, bitterly or
even openly with the president, a la Arkaah ?
Given the wide legislative powers given to the President under the 1992 Constitution,
the Vice Presidency could be strengthened if the next and subsequent presidents could
place under the supervision of their vice the preparation of major legislative proposals
and to head special presidential initiatives
The constitutional amendment of 1996 that stripped the vice presidency of its
constitution powers to chair the Armed Forces, Police and the Prisons Council should be
revisited, if not for anything, to amend the constitution simply on the grounds of soured
relations between a particular president and a particular vice president is not conducive
for consolidating democracy in Ghana
It must still be remembered that the office of Vice President however is still a ‘second
man position’ and its future, whatever it may be, is wrapped up in the institutional
parcel called the Presidency. The man who is President, together with the political
forces of the times, will largely determine the role of the man chosen with him to
‘balance the ticket’.
The People‟s National Party (PNP) presidential candidate, Hilla Limann from the Upper Region selected
J. W. S. de-Graft Johnson from the Central Region; the Popular Front Party (PFP) candidate, Victor Owusu
(Ashanti) chose Yakubu Tali (Northern) and William Ofori Attah (Eastern), the United National
Convention (UNC) candidate had Mahama Iddrisu (Upper) as his running mate
Limann, a diplomat and de Graft Johnson, an engineer, were both mild-mannered
According to Article 164 of the 1979 Constitution, the Police Services Council was to be chaired by the
Minister of Internal affairs
The included Kojo Tsikata,(PNDC member and head of national security) Ebo Tawiah (PNDC member),
Ato Austin (PNDC Secretay) and Kofi Awoonor (ambassador to the UN under the PNDC)
Arkaah, had been instrumental in Rawlings‟ marriage to Nana Konadu Agyeman and acted as the
godfather at their wedding.
Arkaah, the American educated former petroleum distribution chief executive officer, was the PNP MP
for the Awutu-Senya-Effutu Constituency in the Central Region (The Legon Observer, 27 July 1979: 255;
Boateng accused Arkaah and his henchmen of constituted themselves into kingmakers ready to money
from people whose allegiance to the Nkrumahist family was questionable, an unworthy brokerage that
undermined Nkrumahist unity brokerage(Oquaye 2004:509)
Rawlings is from the Volta Region and Arkaah from Central Region.
Adu Boahen from Ashanti with Alhassan from Northern; Limann (Upper West) with Chinebuah
(Central); Erskine (Central) with Mahama (Northern). Darko from Central selected Sackeyfio from Greater
Accra, but mainly for gender balance.
The four opposition parties – NPP, PNC, NIP and PHP – accused the NDC-NIP alliance of rigging the
presidential election and subsequently boycotted the December 1992 parliamentary poll, allowing only
three alliance partners to contest. The NDC won 189seats; the NCP, 8; EGLE, 1; with two independents.
See The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (Amendment) Act, 1996 (Act 527).
The Central and Western regions have relatively strong CPP attachment. In 1996, it was feared that the
combined Nkrumahist and NPP vote in the Western and Central Regions could win those regions for the
Great Alliance and give it an overall majority (Jeffries 1998: 192-3).
Under pressure to resign following his 28 December ordeal, insisted that as a „Stubborn Cat‟ he would
complete his full constitutional four-year term as vice president.
These included John Mahama, MP for Bole-Bamboi and Minister of Communications, Huudu Yahya
NDC General Secretary and Donald Adabere, a regional minister.
First, it was argued that Asamoah had had been a long and loyal serving member of the (P)NDC, having
been in government since 1982 and had for a considerable time held to vital portfolios of Attorney general
and Foreign Affairs together. Second, he had been one of the principal architects behind the formation and
effective functioning of the NDC since May 1992. Third, that he was pragmatic, strong-willed, visionary
and great tactician and strategist who would be need to give support to the relatively new president Mills.
Fourth, that he one of the few veterans of the revolution who still enjoyed intense support from the cadres
and the DWM, the foot soldiers of the party (Daily Graphic, 12 July 2000; Ahiawordor 2001:111)
Ntim, for being the first Kwahuman to be so nominated, had declared that he was going to deliver the
three constituencies in his native Kwahu which in 1996 voted overwhelming for the NPP to the PNC. It
turned out to be an empty boast as the PNC won less than one percent in each of those constituencies
The NPP had 48.2%, NDC 44.5, PNC 2.9%, CPP 1.8%, NRP 1.2%, GCPP 1%, and UGM 0.3%
It was only in three constituencies (Bawku West, Binduri and Chiana-Paga) were the losses below five
(5) percent; for three others (Navrongo Central, Bawku Central, and Builsa South) the losses were between
12 and 20 percentage and for the remaining six constituencies (Bolgatanga, Bongo, Builsa North, Garu-
Tempane, Nabdam, and Talensi), the NDC lost between 21 and 36%. Even in Martin Amidu‟s home
constituency of Garu-Tempane the party lost 22.5%
In five of them (Chereponi, Gukpegu-Sabongida, Gushiegu-Karaga, Kumbugu and West Mamprusi) the
losses were between 10 and 17 percent; while in Mion, it was as high as 25.7%.
These were Bimbilla, Bole, Nalerigu, Nanton, Saboba, Savelugu, Wulensi and Yapei-Kusawgu)
These are Bukrungu-Yunyoo-8.1%, Kpandai-8.9%, Sawla-Kalba-5.3% and Zabzugu-Tatale-7.5
Though his first name, it is used in this paper to distinguish him from the many Northern politicians in
this work who bear the name „Mahama‟.
The Vice President further insisted the clarion call was to every Ghanaian, law enforcement agencies, the
media, civil society and religious organizations to contribute their quota collectively to help eliminate the
canker of indiscipline (Ghana Review International, Issue 110, 2005: 35)
The Andanis have traditionally been supportive of the CPP and in the Fourth Republic, the NDC, while
their half-brothers, the Abudus have been associated with the UP tradition from which the ruling NPP
Mills had been retained as the NDC flagbearer after a stiff challenge from erstwhile PNDC/NDC Finance
Minister, Kwesi Botchwey, which was somehat marked by intimidation from Mills supporters
The parties in the Grand Coalition were the PNC, EGLE, and GCPP.
Significantly, Alan Kyerematen‟s bid for the NPP‟s flagbearship was persistently marked by perceptions
of support from President Kufour, who never openly endorsed his Vice or any of the other aspirants to
One politician who came out well under the circumstances was the NDC MP for Bole, John Mahama,
incidentally the closest challenger to Mumuni for the running mate slot. He had cautioned both the
politicians and media houses from displaying gross insensitivity to such a moment of personal adversity to
Mumuni (The Chronicle, 11 October 2004, p.5).
At the parliamentary level, the NPP was humiliated, losing all three seats.
The Vice President‟s name appeared six times (pages 79, 92, 105, 260, 377 and 379) compared to eleven
times of the Chief of Staff ( Agyeman-Duah 2007).
It was generally perceived that the President Kufuor was supportive of Alan Kyerematen, who in 2001
made Ambassador to USA and later brought down to man the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector
Development and President‟s Special Initiatives. The dominant role of several confidantes of the President
in the Kyerematen campaign fed into this perception.
In her effort to extol Betty‟s Ashanti connection she ended up underrating the northern support which
has remained largely unflinching in support of the NDC and also raised doubts about John Mahama (Accra
Daily Mail, 9-4-08: 5).
Names making rounds as possible running mate to Nana are Rashid Bawa, Ibn Chambas (President of
ECOWAS Commission and former NDC MP), Alhaji M. N. D. Jawula (Chief Director, Ministry of Health
, Alhaji Boniface Abubarkar Sidique ( MP and Water, Works and Housing Minister), Hajia Alima Mahama
( MP andWomen and Childrens‟ Affairs Minister), Sheik I. C. Quaye (MP and Greater Accra Regional
Minister), (Obooshie Sai Cofie (Minister for Tourism) , Ato Essuman, (Chief Director, Ministry of
Education and Council of State member), Mahamadu Bawumia Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana ), Alan
Kyermaten(runner-up in the NPP flagbearer race, Isaac Osei (former Ambassador to UK and Cocobod
Boss)(The Independent, 29-4-08: 1&8).
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