The Vice President Position Of Ghana Since 1979: Does Tribe Matter?

The Vice President Position Of Ghana Since 1979: Does Tribe Matter?

Article 60 (1) of Ghana’s Fourth Republican (1992) established the Office of the Vice President of Ghana. Per article 60(4) of the same Constitution, whenever a presidential candidate (flagbearer) wins an election, his or her vice presidential candidate (running mate) is duly elected as the Vice President and ready to take and subscribe to the oath of allegiance as well as the vice presidential oath set out in the second schedule of the Constitution. The 1992 Constitution (Article 69) does not mandate the President to remove or dismiss the Vice President from office. This is because both officers are usually elected by the Ghanaian voter and sworn into office by the Chief Justice before or in the presence of Parliament which is the representative of the people.

The first time Ghana had a Vice President was in 1979 under the Third Republican Constitution -which was overthrown by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) on Thursday, 31st December, 1981 . Article 47 (1) of the 1979 (Third Republican) Constitution and Article 60 (1) of the 1992 (Fourth Republican) Constitution relate to the establishment of the office of the Vice President of Ghana. In fact, the rendition of article 47 (1) of the 1979 Constitution was maintained under Article 60 (1) of the 1992 Constitution because both articles read, “There shall be a Vice-President of Ghana who shall perform such functions as may be assigned to him by this Constitution or by the President.”

It must be emphasized that both the 1960 (First Republican) Constitution under which Kwame Nkrumah was President ( from 1st July, 1960 to 24th February, 1966), and the 1969 (Second Republican) Constitution under which K. A. Busia was Prime Minister (from 1st October, 1969 to 13th January, 1972) did not have provisions for the Office of Vice President. Actually therefore, there were no Vice Presidents in the first and second republics. So far, however, Ghana has had only male Presidents and male Vice Presidents. We are yet to see females in those two executive offices of the land.

As indicated earlier, the position of Vice President of Ghana came into existence for the first time in 1979. The first person to occupy that position was Dr. Joseph William Swain de-Graft Johnson who was the Vice President to Dr. Hilla Limann. Unfortunately, they were in office for only one year, three months or 15 months instead of the constitutionally mandated four (4) years per article 53 (1) of the 1979 Constitution.

From 1979 (3rd Republic) therefore, Ghana has had seven (7) Vice Presidents with Six (6) of them in the Fourth Republic. Apart from Alhaji Aliu Mahama who occupied the Office of the Vice President for two terms, all others were in office for only one term. We are yet to see in 2020 if Dr. Bawumia will contest the elections again as a vice presidential candidate and become Vice President for the second time if his party should be lucky again to win the elections. Due to the military overthrow in 1981 and the death of President Mills in 2012 respectively, Dr. Joseph William Swain de-Graft Johnson (1st Vice President of Ghana) and John Dramani Mahama (5th Vice President) of Ghana did not hold the office of Vice President for full terms.

As a matter of fact, two of the Vice Presidents of Ghana ( the late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama) moved on and became the Presidents of Ghana.

The table below shows the names of the Vice Presidents of Ghana since 1979, their tribes, political parties and periods in office.

No.Name Tribe Political PartyPeriod in Office
1Dr. Joseph William Swain de-Graft JohnsonFantePNP24th Sept. 1979- 31st Dec, 1981
2Mr. Kow Nkesen ArkaahFanteNDC7th Jan,1993-6th Jan, 1997
3Prof. John Evans Atta MillsFanteNDC7th Jan,1997-6th Jan,2001
4Alhaji Aliu MahamaDagombaNPP7th Jan,2001- 6th Jan,2009
5John Dramani MahamaGonjaNDC7th Jan,2009- 24th July, 2012
6Papa Kwesi Amissah-ArthurFanteNDC6th August, 2012 to 6th Jan, 2017
7Dr. Mahamudu BawumiaMampruliNPP7th Jan, 2017 to date

Let me indicate that this table is not meant to sound tribal and partisan political drums but to demonstrate the Fante factor in the office of the Vice President of Ghana over the years. It is a fact that the first person to occupy the high office of Vice President was a Fante and since then, most (4 out of 7 or 57%) of the Vice Presidents have been Fantes. Whether by intention or coincidence, there may be something relevant about the Fante factor in the office of the Vice President of Ghana.

It is also obvious that under the 1992 Constitution, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has produced more (4) Vice Presidents than the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which produced two (2) of the six Vice Presidents in the Fourth Republic. Whereas the NPP chose the Vice Presidents from the Dagomba and Mamruli tribes in the northern parts of the country, the NDC chose most of the Vice Presidents from the south and specifically from Fante land. John Dramani Mahama happened to be the only Vice President the NDC produced form a different tribe (the Gonja tribe) of the north.

What mostly moves the hands of the NDC to Fante land anytime a vice presidential candidate was to be chosen by that party? Is there any relevance in the Fante factor? Again, what made the NPP look towards the northern part of the country for vice presidential candidates and why do they jump form Dagomba to Mampruli within the Naa Gbewa fraternity? Perhaps the two parties (NDC and NPP) should tell us the germane factors necessitating the choices. Generally however, all the Vice Presidents have been hard working and we have truly missed the departed ones. May their gentle souls continue to rest in perfect peace.

~ Asante Sana ~
Author: Philip Afeti Korto.