• Politics

    What Mahama said about Prof Naana when he announced her as his running mate in 2020

    Since the election of John Dramani Mahama as the flagbearer of the NDC, in May 2023, the next biggest news, apart from participating in the December 2024 general elections, has been the announcement of his lieutenant.

    The race to the presidency would need a running mate and so far, especially after the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) also elected their flagbearer in November of the same year – Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, all eyes have been set on who will be named as running mate.

    In a news report carried by GhanaWeb on Monday, February 12, 2024, but originally written by mynewsgh.com, it claimed that the nominees for the vacant position in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have been narrowed down to three names, representing three regions of the country.

    These, the report added, are the Central, Eastern, and Ashanti regions, with Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, Julius Debrah, and Kwame Awuah-Darko representing the three regions, respectively.

    But one of these three names is not new to the yet-to-announced position; Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, having been named the running mate to John Dramani Mahama for the 2020 general elections.

    GhanaWeb, by this article, takes a look back at what the former president, John Mahama, said about his choice for running mate in 2020.

    Mahama names Naana Jane as NDC 2020 running mate:

    After a closed-door meeting in June 2020, the National Executives Committee (NEC) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) unanimously endorsed the nomination of the former Minister of Education, Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, as the flagbearer to John Dramani Mahama.

    This was after a closed-door meeting between Mahama and the executives of the party.

    According to a report on johnmahama.org, it said that the nomination of the prof as running mate ‘reflects President Mahama’s commitment to improving women’s participation and representation at the highest levels of political leadership.’

    In a personal tweet shortly after the endorsement, John Mahama wrote, “Naana Jane is God-fearing, a distinguished scholar, a conscientious public servant, and a role model.”

    Later on, during a public outdooring event for his running mate, former President John Dramani Mahama had these words to say about her:

    “Two weeks ago, in compliance with the constitution of the NDC, I announced to the Council of Elders and the National Executive Committee, my choice of Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as Running Mate for the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. With Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, I can say confidently that we have made the best choice for Ghana. I have – partnering with me, by the Grace of God, a Vice Presidential aspirant who complements and will ensure that we present to the people of Ghana, a winning, credible and an experienced ticket.

    Today’s momentous occasion is not only for our great party, the NDC. It is also for every single Ghanaian who cares about Ghana and is interested in seeing our nation reach the optimal level of progress, shared opportunities and prosperity that we are capable of attaining. Professor Opoku-Agyemang is the first female to be selected by one of the two major political parties that have won all elections in our country since the start of the 4th Republic in 1992.

    “The choice of Professor Opoku-Agyemang is over and above affirmative action because she is more than qualified to serve as Vice President. She is a woman who has contributed to shattering the many glass ceilings that have held women down for generations, by becoming the first female to lead and manage a public university in Ghana. As I described her in my statement following the announcement, she is ‘God-fearing, a distinguished scholar, a conscientious public servant and a role model.’

    “The NDC has a lot to show when it comes to putting women at the forefront of leadership. Females constitute about 50% of Ghana’s population and women form the majority of Ghana’s human resource. They must lead to advance our nation’s progress. And we have been vindicated at every turn by the sterling output of these highfliers. It was the NDC that presented Ghana’s first female Speaker of Parliament, the first female Foreign Minister, the first female Attorney General, the first female Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, the first female Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education and the first female Chairperson of the Council of State.

    “There are a host of other key positions where our women distinguished themselves and elevated the name and image of Ghana with their first-rate performance. Unlike the NPP, we in the NDC, recognise and appreciate the knowledge, industry, passion, creativity and problem-solving skills of our women. With Professor Opoku-Agyemang, the NDC has once again stayed with our true course, and advanced a step further in our established philosophy of inclusivity by boldly presenting one of our best in intellect and character, as our party’s Running Mate. Together with Naana Jane, we will work with you, each and every Ghanaian, to place our country back on the track of progress, opportunities for all and shared prosperity. This, we will build on the foundation of social justice, self-belief, unity, integrity, transparency and accountability.

    “Working together with Naana Jane, a brilliant and accomplished woman, I have no doubt that God’s grace will shine on us in the elections of December 2020. I am convinced that with her zeal for service and her unquestionable integrity, she will greatly impact the developmental focus of our activities as a Party and Government. She has already begun her policy briefing sessions as incoming Vice President, ready and willing to work hard for Ghanaians.

    “Naana impeccable record is endless and her reach across various sectors is overwhelmingly impressive. For example, I was glad when one of her sterling contributions to academia and health care as my Minister for Education sequenced the genome of the virus, which causes Coronavirus disease. I am referring to the establishment of the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens. Leading the transformation of the educational sector as our Minister for Education, our Running Mate supervised the achievement of many great feats that make me proud to be working with her.

    “She converted Polytechnics into fully-fledged Technical Universities, supervised the upgrading of the Colleges of Education into tertiary institutions and led the negotiations that secured the World Bank funding for the flagship Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP) that saw the major upgrading of facilities in Senior High Schools and the construction of 23 Community Day Senior High Schools.

    Furthermore, facilities in 50 less endowed Senior High Schools and 75 under-performing Senior High Schools were upgraded. Working with the educational unions and traditional authorities, teacher absenteeism was reduced during her tenure from 27% to 7%. Naana Jane also improved the quality of basic education which resulted in Ghana’s all-time best BECE performance, introduced the private BECE, and recruited 2,400 mathematics and science teachers as a special intervention to improve teaching and learning at the Senior Secondary level.

    She also achieved Ghana’s overall best performing WASSCE nation award by WAEC for four consecutive years when she served as Minister. During the period of her tenure, the Ministry of Education engaged more than 40,000 newly recruited teachers. As you will all recall, we abolished the quota system at the Colleges of Education, leading to an increase in enrolment from 9,000 to 15,400, creating more teaching opportunities for our youth. It was under Professor Opoku-Agyemang that teachers were automatically posted without National Service and Licensure Examinations.

    “My brothers and sisters, having worked closely with Naana, what I salute about her, and the world acknowledges and equally celebrates as true, is the fact that she is an achiever of unquestionable integrity, a resourceful and results-driven leader. It is regrettable that following my announcement of her as my running mate, several key leaders of the NPP Administration and party launched a barrage of misogynistic attacks at her just on the basis of her gender. These attacks are unacceptable and most unfortunate. This is not what the severely distressed people of Ghana deserve at this time. We surely can do better…

    “The selection of Prof Opoku-Agyemang as our running mate is a demonstration of the many bold and progressive changes the next NDC administration that I will lead, insha Allah, will embark upon. The involvement of women in the decision-making process will not end at the level of the vice presidency. We will work again toward the attainment of a minimum of 30% of all appointments going to women…”

    About Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang:

    Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, as of 2020, was the Africa Board Chairperson of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). She has been a FAWE member since 2014 and a former Minister for Education in Ghana.

    She was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in 2008, serving as the first female Vice-Chancellor of a public university in Ghana.

    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.

    Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang 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.

    The Professor 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).

    Meanwhile, the report on these narrowed personalities in the NDC for the flagbearer race added that the big announcement, barring any last-minute unforeseen changes, will be made next week.

    Who will it be?

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