Unconfirmed reports reaching our news desk from the Castle indicates that President John Dramani Mahama, has after a long consultative process decided to name the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority, Mr. Sylvester Mensah, as the new Vice – President of the Republic of Ghana.
The position of Vice-President has become vacant after the untimely death of former President John Evans Atta Mills which has seen President Mahama assume the reins of power and has seen many NDC stalwarts jostle for the vacant position of Vice - President.
Several names have been speculated as possible candidates. They include Trades Minister Hannah Tetteh, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission PV Obeng, Ghana’s longest serving former Finance Minister Kwesi Botchwey and former NDC Flagbearer-Aspirant Ekwow Spio Garbrah.
Other names making the rounds include local government minister Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority Sylvester Mensah, former Flagbearer of the National Reform Party Goosie Tanoh and Lands Minister Mike Hammah.
The decision to select Mr. Sylvester Mensah, according to sources close to the President, was based on very strong reasoning and weighing by the President and his advisors.
Mr. Sylvester Mensah who hails from the Greater Accra Region with deep roots also in the Volta Region, is considered a pure Party person having served in many ranks at Constituency, Regional and National levels of the Party from a very young age.
Mr. Mensah, a true and trained Cadre of the NDC, at one time served as the Regional Youth Organizer of the NDC in the Greater Accra Region before serving as the Greater Accra Regional Secretary of the Party for seven years. He contested and lost the General Secretaryship of the Party after the Party lost the December 2000 Elections.
Popularly referred to as ‘Sly’, Mr. Mensah was a former Member of Parliament having been elected as Member of Parliament for the La-Dadekotopon Constituency in December 1996, at the age of just 32.
Our news desk understands that Mr. Mensah had strong backing from the Greater Accra and Volta Regions of the Party and also has important backing from the inner circles of the President’s kitchen cabinet that see Mr. Mensah as someone with the requisite selling points and competence to help the new President govern the nation and also win the December General Elections should he be confirmed as Running Mate.
The National Health Insurance Scheme boss has a 24 year record in both public and private sectors serving in various capacities in reputable private institutions and also in various state institutions at one point or the other.
Before being appointed as the Chief Executive of the NHIA, Mr. Mensah served as the Head of Public Sector Banking at the former Intercontinental Bank, Ghana. He has also lectured at various times at both the University of Professional Studies and Central University College.
At the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. Mensah is credited with introducing key reforms in the scheme which has transformed the scheme into a much professional, competent and self sufficient scheme meeting the needs of both service providers and subscribers.
Among the key reforms are the clinical audit mechanism and a new claims vetting system which has ensured that the NHIS has been able to cut its unnecessary costs and run efficiently according to its key mandate. Generally, staff at the scheme consider Mr. Mensah as someone who has introduced a new work ethic into the service making it much more professional.
It is through some of these reforms that ensured that the National Health Insurance Scheme won the Global Award on Excellence and Leadership awarded by the UNDP and WHO in 2011.
A close source to the President in explaining the likely choice of the NHIA Boss said “with the selection of Mr. Mensah, the NDC would be presenting a very young and competent face to the Ghanaian populace. He is a true cadre and has dedicated himself to party work right from his school days. He has been a legislator, a banker, finance professional, strategic management expert and has managed very creditably, the largest public sector organization in our country, the NHIS. Above all, he has an excellent people skill with the President and is liked by the Party,” the source said.
Mr. Mensah is currently a leading African expert and practitioner of Social Health Insurance management and was recently invited by the African Development Bank as a resource person and speaker at the high level meeting of African Finance and Health Administrators.
Mr. Mensah is 48 and married with 3 children. He was inducted into the West African Nobles Forum in 2011.
Meanwhile, President Mahama is scheduled to deliver to parliament the name of the person chosen to be the Vice President of Ghana on Tuesday, July 31. Under Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, the Vice President who is sworn in as President by Parliament following the death of a President, is to nominate a candidate to be endorsed by Parliament as Vice President.
Parliament is thus expected to scrutinize and approve the name presented to them.
This is in accordance with the requirement of (10) Article (60) of the Constitution of Ghana which states that “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 the approval of Parliament.”
For now it remains to be seen if the NHIA CEO will be selected as the new Vice President of Ghana as being speculated or whether another surprise name is in the offing.
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