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Opinions of Monday, 30 November 2015

Columnist: Antobam, Kobina

Bawumia Is Just A Glorified Bean Counter

By: Kobina Antobam

Despite the steady incremental self-inflicted wounds from the intermittent internal flare-ups which continue to dog and throw Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo off his presidential game, there is also an ongoing ineffective, purposeless, and self-defeating promotion by the “house-divided” New Patriotic Party. The ongoing promotion is meant to prop up the party’s vice-presidential candidate as some super human who is so anxious and ready to take off from his kryptonite-lush planet and soar through the clouds and land at the Flagstaff House in 2017 in order to save Ghana from its numerous challenges and turn the country around to the longed-for never-attainable economic paradise that has, yes, forever eluded almost all African countries.

The NPP talk often of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in god-like terms. The party’s spaced-out daydreaming pundits have repeatedly described Dr. Bawumia in unbelievably lofty terms, elevating him to their own prescriptive know-it-all omnipotence, who, to them, will be our super brilliant Vice-President, that is, if Akufo-Addo gets his way. Bawumia is supposed to come dispense superb never seen unsurpassed razzle-dazzle economic principles and policies that will baffle and amaze those of us economics-challenged Ghanaians. To them, Bawumia is the one and only “experienced” economist, “world-renowned” economist, he is the “eminent” economist, and to top it off, he is the “economist and banker of international distinction and repute.” And that he has given up his bureaucratic career and is here in Ghana seeking the vice-presidential spot in order to rescue us and the world from doom. In the meantime, those snots, and Bawumia himself, are relentlessly scapegoating President Mahama for all the fallout from Kufuor administration’s mismanagement, mistakes and negligence of the national economy. The very serious question is, have these fools gone around the world to pitch Bawumia against any Nobel prize winning economists and all internationally recognized economists in order for Bawumia to be tagged “world-renowned?”

It’s not enough that Bawumia is being pumped up as some economics wizard extraordinaire and a super human. NPP personalities are also stumbling over each other in a bumbling fruitless pushing and shoving contest to glue a halo of divine national economic policy prowess and invincibility on the head of this ordinary everyday man, Bawumia. In his contribution to their desperate effort to inflate Bawumia into some super-educated, super invincible, an infallible economist, a world class transcendental erudite, and a cult figure in the minds of poorly educated Ghanaians, our dear old shameless crony capitalist, the former President John Agyekum Kufuor, three years ago described Dr. Bawumia as the “divine solution to Ghana’s economic woes;” “the perfect answer” to Ghana’s economic and social hardships; and that Bawumia is “God-sent” and he possesses “economic prowess.”

It is only a person with severe inferiority complex who would attribute divinity, absolute perfection and immaculacy to another ordinary human being. No wonder President John Mahama, as part of his campaign strategy, has begun his attack not only on the NPP and Akufo-Addo but has targeted Dr. Bawumia as well.

Then as recently as a month or two ago, the Ashanti Regional Chief Imam, Abdul Mumin Haroun, levitating blissfully in his spaced-out paradise, came up with a self-induced revelation that Bawumia “is a gift from God who should be protected and supported in order for the nation to reap the full benefits from such a unique gift.”

The obvious question here is: What is NPP trying to do with us? Are they trying to hypnotize us into a perpetual trance of unquestioning faith and worship of Bawumia and his manufactured, unproven, exaggerated, and mythological prowess in, and his limited knowledge of, national economy? Again, what is NPP trying to prove to us with this man Bawumia? NPP nut cases should be aware that Ghanaians step out of their houses every day, look to the skies, and ask: Is that a plane, a UFO, a spaceship, a shooting star, a drone, or is that one and only economics superman Bawumia? Damn, after looking up to the skies for almost eight years to see if that so-called super economist or something close to him has landed on the Flagstaff House grounds or anywhere else in Ghana, it always turns out that it’s not Bawumia or anything else. It always turns out to be just a dead crow that has plopped down from the skies! And, without fail, always bears the resemblance of you-know-who!

You people should know by now that Ghanaians refuse to buy into the empty hype of your twice-recycled vice-presidential candidate who seems destined to repeat the party’s performances in the last two elections. For me, this so-called God-sent Ghanaian is a dud economist! He is no exceptional super economist. He is not world-renowned. He is not “His Highness the Economics and Banking Eminence” in any way. The truth is that, considering the many highly educated Ghanaian economists and professionals around the globe and in prestigious universities all over the world who are working hard, busily teaching, writing and publishing serious, useful, usable and citable academic papers, and are undertaking painstaking research to boot, Bawumia is not exclusively God-sent.

Of course, everyone is God-sent; and those quiet Ghanaian professionals and educators in Bawumia’s field are really the renowned economists but not this NPP’s discomfited politician, or Mister Politician Wannabe. By the way, those quiet Ghanaian professionals that I have cited exclude, starting from New York, those rotten-thinking, raspingly loud and poorly educated Ghanaian caricatures and buttinskis, with pus-oozing gangrene-ravaged brains, who live twenty-four-seven in the electronic media and those in Ghanaian politics who have made themselves utterly irrelevant in all affairs of the country by their constant yapping and unneeded and unwarranted ethno-slanted interferences and meaningless daily comments about every issue affecting the country.

Now, let’s get back to Dr. Bawumia. By not discouraging the boring ear-piercing discordant praise singers in his party and by tacitly accepting those empty accolades, Dr. Bawumia has evidently, by default, made himself Ghana’s Banking and Economics blowhard. And a blowhard he is! You see, by constantly attending various functions and quietly listening and accepting those messianic praises as if he is the one and only God-sent African, Bawumia has truly become an egocentric bureaucratic blowhard!

It is very clear, of course, that the presidential candidate himself, Mr. Akufo-Addo, is so very clueless about how he is going to succeed in managing the country that he plans to rely solely on the advice and guidance from his politically unproven and un-electable vice-presidential sidekick for all national economic decisions. In my estimation, Bawumia is un-electable in any national capacity as an NPP due to his hanging on too tightly to the coattails of Akufo-Addo. If Bawumia doesn’t cut the apron strings from Akufo-Addo, he is doomed because Akufo-Addo plans to place all of his economic eggs in Bawumia’s leaky basket. I mean, both will fail miserably if they succeed in getting themselves elected. And lately, beleaguered Mr. Akufo-Addo seems more and more un-electable too. Akufo-Addo has often displayed his complete lack of the complex intricacies of the national economy by trying too hard to impress Ghanaians whenever he sprinkles his speeches with puerile Economics 101 catch-phrases (“value-added exports,” for example), undergraduate level classroom theorems, bland economic one-liners, and empty slangy clichés. I wonder if Bawumia helps write Akufo-Addo’s speeches.

Again, if Akufo-Addo is going to look to his hoped-for Vice-President for expert economic policy advice and guidance, he is in for a shock; because Dr. Bawumia is no national policy wonk. He is not policy driven. He is not even a politician.

Now, if Bawumia is not eminent, world-renowned, and experienced, and not policy imbued, then what is he? The answer is clear and simple. For me, the more I listen to him talk, especially during question and answer sessions, sans regurgitated written speeches, and when he is forced to be extemporaneous and display his rhetorical economics skills, the more I am inclined to conclude that Dr. Bawumia is only a glorified BEAN COUNTER.

The man is quintessentially a NUMBERS CRUNCHER who lacks analytical substance and who is entrapped in his own self-created narrow niche of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, and that is it. He is not a broadminded policy-driven macro-economist, and above all, not a political economist. He does not know how to extricate himself from his bean counting obsession and addiction. Bawumia is simply an empty suit bureaucrat and nothing else. His so-called national economics skills and experience, if he is imbued with any, are evidently rusty or have prematurely eroded the memory of this young man. He knows he is an empty suit bureaucrat because just like every stage performer, he enjoys putting on an act known as “Fake It Till You Know It” just for the expected “God-sent” applause. I can’t help but imagine a Vice-President Bawumia who is constantly arguing with his Finance Minister and the head of the Bank of Ghana over numbers of national financial indicators simply because of his preoccupation with counting.

Instead of a realistic professional demonstration of his so-called prowess, Dr. Bawumia has rather chosen to transform himself into a gloom and doom disciple constantly peddling Armageddon-like economic collapse of the country, that is, if we don’t elect him and his right-hand man Akufo-Addo. According to him, the sky has been falling ever since the National Democratic Congress handily won the parliamentary and presidential elections in the last two national contests. The question Ghanaians should pose to this young man is that if he is so smart as NPP claims, how come he hasn’t participated actively and noticeably in any of the attempts at economic solutions or spectacularly invoked his so-called prowess and brought noticeable improvement to Ghana’s economy from the time he received his Ph.D. till now and especially during Kufuor’s eight years in power. How come, Dr. Bawumia? If Bawumia is so smart, how come he is alive and yet Ghana continues to experience economic problems? He would rather have us elect him vice-president first and that’s when he plans to magically wipe away our sufferings and endow us with unmatched and unappalled super splendiferous prosperity. Why not now, Dr. Bawumia? I believe strongly that neither is going to happen. Not his and Akufo-Addo’s election nor Bawumia’s smoke and mirrors economic prosperity.

You see, very recently, Dr. Bawumia was accorded the excellent opportunity to display his much touted national and macro-economic “prowess” on an international platform when he was invited to London to partake in the Financial Times Private Equity in Africa Summit. While in the Whiteman’s turf, instead of talking about broader constraints and impediments skillfully and flagrantly applied in all international business dealings with Africa by his hosts’ governments and other Western powers always to the detriment of African economies, our so-called “impeccable” “eminent” economist Bawumia chose to berate and scrape the raw skin off the back of the current Ghana government without suggesting a single cogent alternative to solve Ghana’s economic woes.

A good patriotic economist who wants to become a high ranking politician and a heartbeat away from the top prize would have spoken about the root causes of the impossible and ever unattainable economic and political self-determination yearned for but only briefly tasted by all Africans soon after their freedoms from colonialism which has cunningly been denied us and probably never to be envisaged again; the contiguous attachments to neighboring poorer African countries which encourage the instantaneous siphoning off of the least economic improvements in any African country that, in turn, leaves every progressive African country retrogressing and bone dry; the panicky fear to control the mass influx of neighboring and faraway foreigners that stems from our collective guilt from the disastrous Aliens Compliance Order implemented by Kofi Abrefa Busia’s useless government that has resulted in the flooding into the country of ECOWAS traders as well as hardened criminals, struggling and near-destitute Asians, and others; the exploitative brutal stripping and the destructive naked rape by miserable ne’er-do-well foreigners of our landscape in the hellish selfish scramble for our precious metals and other resources for themselves alone; the bloated population and its strain on our economic resources; the enormous price we pay for our near total dependence on foreign aid and bailouts, and the shoring of our national budget with panhandled foreign money; the cajoling, encouragement and the sneaky connivance perpetrated by foreigners to enable powerful African leaders to steal and plunder our national wealth and hide them for safe keeping in foreign banks, knowing fully well that these thieving bankers are patiently waiting for the depositors, or the African thieves, to die so that they can keep the loot; and finally that, should we or shouldn’t we be wary and fear our addiction to foreign handouts of all sorts or should we continue to welcome the stringy foreign loan-sharking and pyramid-scheming exploitations disguised often as “foreign investments?” I believe we all have heard about political and economic Self-Determination at least once in our lifetimes!

Bawumia could have chosen to talk about any of these or many other economic challenges facing Ghana and Africa. He could have even used the opportunity to apologize for participating, with political malice aforethought, in the senseless street demonstrations about the shortage of electricity supply in the country, otherwise known as “dumsor.” If Bawumia is so messianically adept at Economics and Banking, he ought to have known that hitting the streets, demonstrating and shouting his lungs out for “dumsor” to be over is not an economic policy or a real solution. The street demonstrations were just an idiotic Ghanaian’s solution for “dumsor.”

A good Ghanaian economist would never forget that our principal source of electricity has been the hydro-electric power at Akosombo since it began operating in 1966 when the population was only 8 million. At that time, electricity hadn’t been extended to many of the towns and villages in Ghana and we were able to sell the excess capacity to VALCO, Togo, and the then Dahomey. The super excessive demand for electricity these days is principally the result of our bloated population, currently between 28 to 30 million or nearly 300% growth in less than 50 years since the Volta River Dam was commissioned, and the obvious fact that the Volta River is now steadily drying up.

With a steadily ballooning population, we are all aware that our ravenous appetite for energy consumption has outpaced our financial capabilities and our ability and capacity to generate adequate power to keep pace with the creeping runaway demand. When Akufo-Addo, Bawumia, Kufuor, et.al, built their mansions and wanted electricity and other conveniences installed, it did not matter to them then that their electricity needs would have to come from the same strained Akosombo output. When the corruption-financed “property-owning” building boom began to pick up steam during the NPP era, none of those Village People who had suddenly tasted YMCA city life ever thought about how their newly acquired rapacious hunger for multi-million dollar mansions and the concomitant demand for electricity, utilities, and other public services were going to be met. They just kept on building and demanding individual satisfaction for their gluttonous hunger for modern amenities and utilities. Additionally, whenever we encourage exploitative foreigners to invest in Ghana, we refuse to accept that the new businesses, new factories and manufacturing plants will exacerbate the already strained demand for all utilities and public services.

These useless former village critics also conveniently forget that, in their youthful days and at the very beginning of Ghana, many of the villages they grew up in had no electricity; their parents probably never owned refrigerators, electric stoves, and even electric fans. These days, uncountable energy consuming gadgets we did not even dream of in 1957, 1966, and soon after, are abundant everywhere. Millions of continuously rechargeable electronic gadgets, from smart mobile phones to all types of computers, are available to every Ghanaian. Many of these Village People Monday morning quarterbacks, I know, now have more than one refrigerator in their mansions, electric stoves and ovens, electricity-guzzling air conditioners, and many energy consuming conveniences. So Bawumia, Akufo-Addo, Kufuor, and all the cacophonous rabble-rousers should stop the noise and tell us exactly, clearly, and intelligently how they are going to solve the electricity shortage problem.

Rather this guy Bawumia, went to the White people’s land just to tell them how much Ghana’s national debt was when NPP left office and what the debt balance is today. This is simply why Bawumia should only be known as “Ghana’s #1 Bean Counter.” If you tell Bawumia that Ghana’s debt is, say, $4 billion, he will counter that Ghana’s debt is four billion and one dollars. No offense to all other qualified hardworking Bean Counters out there! And my sincere apologies to all professional Bean Counters, both certified and uncertified, if you in any way feel offended.

Now, those of you who have no idea what a Bean Counter is, I will try to describe bean counting for you. Let’s assume that you have a clear jar of dried beans sitting on your desk. You then call to your office a Bean Counter and you also call in your national policy and operations person. You ask both of them to guess how many beans are in the jar. The policy person quickly answers that there are about 500 beans in the jar and then immediately leaves and returns to his or her desk.

The Bean Counter, on the other hand, rather stares and stares at the jar of beans and broods and ponders and says to you that he would rather count the beans for the exact and correct answer. He grabs the jar to his desk and pours out the beans and spends valuable time to count them. He comes back after a couple of hours and says: “Boss, I told you that I had to be completely sure about the number of beans in the jar. There are 503 beans in the jar, not 500.”

In order to further addle the bean counter and help kick in gear his compulsive disorder, all you have to do is ask him, “Are you sure?” The bean counter will begin to doubt himself again and take the jar back to his desk to count, or audit, the second time and maybe the third time and come back to tell you that he is now completely sure that there are 503 beans in the jar.

This is the kind of Vice-President Ghana will get if we vote NPP into the Flagstaff House. Dr. Bawumia seems to have an obsessive compulsive disorder with numbers. Living in his imaginary lulu land or dreamscape treehouse, he recounted the Pink Sheets and came to the Supreme Court and tried unsuccessfully to get the Court to tally the votes one more time in order to prove the Electoral Commission wrong. His memorable moment during his time on the stand came when he uttered the forever etched-in-stone quote that “You and I were not there.” He and Mr. Akufo-Addo, who wouldn’t take the stand and give testimony in support of his beleaguered and haggard also-ran running mate, wasted Ghanaians’ precious time for more than a year for them to be told that they certainly lost the elections.

Obsessive compulsive bean counters are also inflicted with an incurable flaw. They live in fear of being accused of even the most immaterial infinitesimal mathematical errors; they dread the shame of the smallest typographical numerical errors more than any disputable and questionable national economic proposals they put forth. A couple of years ago, Dr. Bawumia committed a grievous intellectual dishonesty, which he has recently repeated over and again, when he disputed and challenged the Bank of Ghana’s published economic state of the nation, by issuing false and misleading unequal and mismatched (apples and oranges) periodic series valuations of costs of goods, GDP, national debt, and other economic measures. He did so out of his habitual compulsive dysfunction of wanting to refute any and all economic indicators released by the current government. It looks as if Dr. Bawumia only lives in anticipation of the publication of any economic news so that he will have the insane joy and the warped justification to prove to Ghanaians that he has a Ph.D. in Economics and we need him.

Now that we know who Dr. Bawumia is and what he actually stands for, if we could get past the empty accolades and worthless glorifications, we will easily settle down to a clear careful choice of capable presidential and vice-presidential candidates to manage the country for the next four years. Right now, I am seriously concerned about Akufo-Addo’s particle board economic ideas and Bawumia’s “fake-it-till-you-know-it” persona. A reasonable question for the adequately educated readers: Are you sure Dr. Bawumia is smarter than you? And is he more God-sent than you? And, finally, can he perform the vice-presidential role better than you?

Good Day and Happy Holidays