The name of the Ghanaian business mogul and current chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Sir Sam Jonah, has come up as a front-runner for the nomination to stand as John Dramani Mahama’s running mate in the 2024 presidential election.
The National Democratic Congress last month elected the former president as its flagbearer once again, as well as most of the NDC’s parliamentary candidates who will stand in next year’s general election.
The one big slot left is who partners John Mahama. Whoever gets the slot will be given poll position to lead the party beyond 2024, whether the opposition party wins the 2024 election or not.
Elements within the NDC and the Mahama campaign team are convinced that among the many names being considered by the NDC flagbearer, Sir Sam (aged 73) appears to be one of those highly tipped to get the nod.
This may not go down well with some purists, because Sir Sam is not known as a card-bearing member of the party founded by the late John Jerry Rawlings.
Over the past decade, however, he has grown to become Mahama’s key advisor and a leading facilitator of the NDC leader’sinternational business network.
Strong business networks
A source close to Sir Sam expressed no surprise about the reports when contacted by Asaase News, adding that in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, overtures were made to the former chief executive of the now defunct Ashanti Goldfields to run with John Mahama, but Sir Sam politely declined.
But the bond between the two men has grown, with John Mahama’s younger brother Ibrahim, the businessman, playing a strong role in forging the relationship.
Just two weeks ago, the two men (John Mahama and Sam Jonah) were spotted together in South Korea, where Jonah introduced the NDC’s 2024 presidential candidate to his rich network of contacts there.
After winning the 2012 election with Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur as his running mate, Mahama lost the 2016 polls to President Akufo-Addo with a repeat of the 2012 ticket.
Following Amissah-Arthur’s death in 2018, Mahama chose Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as his running mate in the 2020 polls. The pair lost to the New Patriotic Party ticket of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
Profile of Sam Jonah
Samuel Esson Jonah is a Ghanaian businessman who is currently the executive chairman of Jonah Capital, an equity fund based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Jonah was previously president of AngloGold Ashanti and shared the strategic leadership of the company with its chief executive officer, Bobby Godsell.
Jonah attended secondary school at Adisadel College in Cape Coast, Ghana, then earned an associateship in mining eEngineering at the Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall, England, and subsequently an MSc degree in mine management at Imperial College of Science and Technology in London.
He joined Ashanti Goldfields Corporation in 1979, working in various capacities, including underground operations. At the age of 36, he became the chief executive officer, and supervised the transformation of Ashanti Goldfields into a mining multinational.
During his tenure, he increased gold production from 240,000 ounces per annum to over 1.6 million ounces in over ten years, and oversaw the company’s listing as the first operating African company on the New York Stock Exchange.
His diversified investment company, Jonah Capital, is the second-biggest shareholder in the pan-African microlender Bayport, as well as a major shareholder in Houses for Africa, a company that has undertaken middle-class housing construction projects in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Nigeria, where it also provides finance.
In 2009 he became a non-executive director of Vodafone. Currently the Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, Jonah chairs the boards of Equator Exploration Ltd, Scharrig Mining, Equinox Minerals, Uramin, Moto Goldmines Ltd and Range Resources Ltd.
He also serves or has served on various boards, including Transnet, Mittal Steel SA, Ashesi University, Standard Bank of South Africa, Lonmin, the Commonwealth African Investment Fund (Comafin), the Advisory Council of the UN Secretary General’s Global Compact, President Olusegun Obasanjo’s International Investment Advisory Council on Nigeria, President Thabo Mbeki’s International Investment Advisory Council of South Africa, and President John Kufuor’s Ghana Investors’ Advisory Council.
As well as his directorships, Jonah is a member of the advisory board of the London Business School. His academic awards include an honorary doctorate (DSc), given jointly by the Camborne School of Mines and the University of Exeter in 1996.
Jonah House in Adisadel College, his alma mater, is named after his father, Thomas Jonah, and opened in 1997. In June 2003 Sam Jonah became the first Ghanaian in the 21st century to be knighted in the UK; he was presented with an honorary knighthood by the then Prince of Wales in recognition of his achievements as an African businessman, a leading business executive from the Commonwealth and an international public figure.
Jonah has been listed among the richest people in Ghana.