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Feature Article of Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama

Bawumia to lead NPP? Part 2 of 3.

It looks like many NPP members are already angling to support Muhamadu Bawumia, the 2008 and 2012 running mate of Nana Akufo-Addo. Many are of the opinion NPP members need to be is mobilising their resources and support around Dr. Muhamadu Bawumia, the 2008 and 2012 Vice-Presidential candidate of the NPP. There are many reasons being espoused by some people for saying Bawumia should lead the NPP for the 2016 Election.

Firstly, the issue that is being seriously discussed is the role of Nana Akufo-Addo's supporters in a post Akufo-Addo NPP. It is noteworthy that Akufo-Addo took absolute control of the NPP in 2009 after losing the 2008 Election. The NPP constitutional amendment in 2009 was seen as a referendum on the popularity of Akufo-Addo on one hand and President Kufuor and his protégé Alan Kyeramanten on the other.

Those against the expansion of the number people voting an NPP Flagbearer however loud and resourceful they were lost. The likes of Kwabena Agyapong, Frank Agyekum, Amin Anta and others spoke against the amendments. Amin Antah spoke against the expansion of the Electoral College rallying around the flag of fairness and arguing that the proposed expansion was not equitable. He also said the party did not have the resources to fund the expansion of the electoral college.

On the day of the Delegates Conference dubbed the ‘R Convention 09’ – Reflect, Rebuild, Recapture 2012, the party rationalised and passed the proposals enabling Nana Akufo-Addo and his faction to have absolute control of the party and putting a brake on the quest of Alan to lead the NPP. As a result Nana Akufo-Addo built a very powerful structure which revolves around him. Many still think the status quo must remain with some one from the Nana Akufo-Addo's faction stepping into his shoes. Many see Bawumia as the likely successor of the structures Nana Akufo-Addo built over the years.

Secondly, some people are of the conviction the NPP must rethink their strategy and also work hard to broaden their party base to attract other ethnic groups. They believe the NPP must promote other tribes than only Ashantis and Akyems to contest for the party’s leadership.

It is a truism that geographical considerations and ethnicity has become an integral part of politicking in Ghana. During elections, these issues always feature prominently in the campaigns and are exploited and fanned to win votes. The NPP need to do a lot of strategic planning in terms perceptions as to whether the party is broad based or not. Under the current circumstance of NPP Muhamadu Bawumia is the best bet for the party.

President Mahama's selection as the NDC's Presidential candidate for the December election was seen by many Northerners and other non Akan ethnic groups as a demonstration of the party's commitment to national representation and equality for all irrespective of place of origin. Many Ghanaians believe NDC is the singular party among the key political parties in Ghana to have a wider regional representation especially having had flagbearers from Volta Region, Central Region and Northern Region in the past 20 years.

Indeed the perception is that, the NPP is an Akan party and that perception has been re-enforced by the fact that in the last two elections, the NPP won only two out ten regions. It is high time to re-brand the party or else it is not going to win any national election anytime soon. Selecting Dr Bawumia as Presidential candidate would have been a great step towards achieving this because the party needs to defuse the Akan perception now, more than ever or it remains in opposition forever.

The non-Akan ethnic groups are of the opinion that the NPP should reform itself to reflect the character of a national political party and to ensure its membership of equal opportunities before they think of voting for it. In the parties twenty years history, the three people that were made flagbearers comes from only one major ethnic group-Akan. That to many Ghanaians is not good for a party that claims to be National in character.

Former Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama’s failed bid to be the flagbearer of the NPP for the 2008 elections has become the reference point for some Northerners resident within and outside the three Northern Regions to feel the NPP is not their party. This sharply contrast with the situation in the NDC. When the former President of Ghana, Prof. Atta Mills died, the NDC quickly nominated the Vice President, John Mahama to be their Presidential Candidate. There was no question and no debate. I am convinced if a similar situation had happened under the NPP administration, it would have been a different story. Thirdly, some are already arguing the NPP should select someone with an appealing personality and has an air of charisma around him. They think the NPP need to get a Presidential candidate with positive attributes like President John Mahama. President John Dramani Mahama will definitely lead NDC for the 2016 Election. He is one individual who has made a difference to the NDC because of his humilty and affable nature. For President Mahama to campaign for three months, and yet win one touch should tell NPP everything is not well with the party. Anyone who underrates President Mahama does so at his own risk.

Furthermore, some NPP people are of the opinion the party can only win an election again if it appeals to all Religions especially the two major ones in the country.In Ghanaian politics, religion plays a major part in making or unmaking political parties. The party has done a lot over the years to appeal to Muslim voters but it seems their efforts are not enough. The Alliance Compliance Order of Dr K.A. Busia has often been cited by the Zongo communities which are predominantly Muslim as the major reason they are not comfortable with the NPP. Sometimes it baffles me that the NDC fielded two Christian candidates in 2008 and 2012 but still won the Muslim votes. There are no records of what percentage of Christians or Muslims or others votes for or against the NPP but prior to the 2012 Election an opinion poll conducted by Research International, a London-based market research company found that 63 percent of Musslims polled said they would vote for the NDC, against 39 percent who said they would vote for Nana Akufo-Addo and his NPP. 75 percent of traditionalists opted to vote for the NDC, while 39 percent answered that they would vote for the NPP. Going by this one may be right to say the selection of Bawumia could win more votes for NPP in the Muslim communities in Ghana. Also, NPP members think the party need to get someone who will appeal not only to die-hard NPP members but floating voters because they win elections for political parties in Ghana. In terms of winning votes, Bawumia has proven to be an electoral asset going by the results in the Northern Region in the 2012 election. In all, the NPP improved their parliamentary representation in the Northern Region from four to ten partly as a result his hard work. Out of the ten constituencies, three are from the Mamprusi area where Bawumia hails from They are Walewale, Yagba/Kubori and Bunkpurugu. With this, it means Bawumia if selected Presidential candidate of NPP, will split the three Northern Regions with President Mahama and maintain Ashanti and Eastern Region with the swing Regions of Brong- Ahafo, Central and Western Region deciding the winner. Notwithstanding the reasons explained, I sincerely think Bawumia will not lead NPP. I still remember the slogan “It is now Nana’s time” during the 2008 Presidential primaries of NPP.

To be continued..

By Mahama Haruna.

The writer is a trained Journalist and a former NPP Secretary for Bole-Bamboi. He was also a Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS).

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