He does not wear his political persuasion on his sleeves, but he has sleeves alright–long sleeves, in fact. He does not typify a familiar political organism, but he is a type in our familiar brand of politics.
He may have proven his political weight beyond measure, but he may have done so only as a suitable electoral partner than as a partner indeed. For, there is a sense in which a partner is not exactly a part of a partnership, especially if the partnership subsists on the whims of an establishment. Whether Dr Mahamadu Bawumia is a part of the establishment remains in the womb of time.
The establishment: That is the problem of the NPP. “We Have the Men”: That is the disease of the NPP. So often, those who form the establishment must necessarily be part of the men. Or at least, a founding father of a sort. It did not sit well with some founding patrons of the Danquah-Dombo tradition when Bawumia was chosen to partner Nana Addo in 2008. But the shadow veep’s quality sat well with reason: He had not tainted himself with the mud that decorates some known politicians. He had been deemed an astute technocrat with a service attitude. And with a likable personality, he brought an unquantifiable advantage to the ticket of the NPP flagbearer.
For now, Nana Addo hasn’t got lots of choices for a vice. He has the men alright–great men like Alhaji Jawula, Ambrose Derry, Mustapha Hamid or any hybrid personality that has not fallen on the radar of speculation. These men, and any other person the establishment may proffer, would not bring any strategic electoral advantage to Nana’s ticket. Somehow, Nana himself must constitute himself into the conscience of the electorate as a servant seeking to offer a service, not as a messianic saviour. He may also need to increase in favour and win the hearts (not the votes) of many. That means he must win the affection of the electorate, and also their consideration.
How would Dr Bawumia aid this process? He must love his country very much to leave a lucrative ADB country directorship position for reasons that are not immediately known to his party chairman. Those who have come close to him testify of a workaholic with a get-the-job-done attitude. With solid academic credentials, a beautiful face and a gift for public speaking, he is pure gold in three parts. And there is ample evidence in John Mahama that Bawumia’s gentle nature would survive the murky, insulting politics in Ghana. But in Bawumia, we could have the shock of an unassuming character who would not mind getting his hands dirty – literally.
That is the kind of person Nana Addo needs in a vice-president: A neuter with some gravitas who would help the NPP in this bargaining period. The NPP and its flagbearer are not very close to the stage of acceptance–acceptance from the Ghanaian public. What the experts say (and Obama endorses) is so true–that a political material progresses through five stages of development: denial, anger, bargaining, despair and acceptance. The NPP is bargaining–for nearly everything: respect among themselves, political confidence, electoral votes, and most importantly, the taming of ambitions. They don’t have a great deal to learn, but they have a lot to unlearn.
Even in Bawumia, the NPP still have a few things to unlearn. If Minority Leader Osei-Kyei-Bonsu attempted to speak the consensus of the establishment regarding the considerations that go into choosing party leadership, then that is all there is to know. On Joy radio, he said he buys into the idea that a Southerner must necessarily have a running mate from the north. He doesn’t believe in two Akans on the same ticket. And in the absence of a “high profile Ga” quality, if the NPP would consider picking a running mate from southern Ghana, they must look for a young person from the central region to rival incumbent President Atta-Mills.
That is how the tradition has worked since Prof Adu Boahen. Alhaji Aliu Mahama was said to have filled in from nowhere. It is believed there are core insiders who would not tolerate an outsider to lead a tradition that was built by their forebears. So when President Kufuor bowed out, Aliu had no clout within the inner circle of trust to back his presidential bid. Perhaps that also explains why he had to battle with 16 other politicians for a position which in other jurisdictions would have been his with very little opposition. People asked then, and they still do now: Did the NPP prepare Aliu to take the reigns after Kufuor or they used his reign to prepare for another?
If the dynamics have not changed, then what is good for Aliu is good for Bawumia, except that in the latter’s case, there seem to be a compelling reason for his second try at the vice-presidency. It also means that if his first bid was a mistake, as was revealed recently by a powerful party faithful, then his second needs some redemption, or at least some thinking through.
Yet, in Bawumia, the NPP has a great asset who would be hard to put down if he were a book. And he makes the reading easy, because you can judge this book by its cover. If the cover reflects the plot, then we may not have another Audacity of Hope, but we sure have hope in an audacious man.
Source: Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin /[email protected] - Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin is a freelance journalist. He lives in Ottawa, Canada, where he is involved in outreach management and partner relations.
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