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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Columnist: FNAFB

Be careful how you handle Bawumia

It is barely three months since the NPP government led by His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo assumed the mantle of leadership in Ghana on the January 7, 2017.

So far, the president has duly appointed about 110 core members of his government excluding CEOS and Directors of state agencies. There has been a hot debate on the size of the government.

We the Fair-Minded NPP Alliance for Bawumia (FNAFB) are least worried about that. It is clearly the prerogative of His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo, and he seems convinced that this is how he could make good all the lofty promises he made to Ghanaians prior to the election. We can only wish him well and hope that he will be vindicated by the outcome.

As a group who are worried about the future of the our dearest party, NPP, we are particularly concerned about what appears as orchestrated manoeuvrer to relegate the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia to the background, in order to minimize his huge influence and strategic stature in the party, in case he decides to run for presidency after President Nana Akufo Addo completes his two time tenure, God willing.

A cursory perusal of the 110 ministers and deputy ministers appointed by the President clearly confirms that the VP was barely involved or adequately consulted. For avoidance of doubt, there is a clear difference between engaging someone or consulting someone over something, and informing someone of a decision you have already taken on it.

The latter is what seemed to be transpiring. It is therefore not surprising that most of the individuals who have been confirmed as ministers are those who lobbied through a few favourite associates and relatives of the President, who are calling the shots and pulling the string behind the scene. In contrast, majority of equally competent persons who lobbied through the Vice President have been hugely disappointed.

To hazard a guess, it is highly unlikely that the few competent people that the VP managed to push through is worth mentioning at all. We strongly believe that the VP deserves more than that. We are all witnesses to how Dr. Mahmoud Bawumia worked passionately and tirelessly to guarantee NPP an emphatic victory in the last election.

The President himself minced no words when he acknowledged the crucial role of the VP on the thanks giving day as follows:
It is always invidious to single out individuals on such an occasion, especially when there were so many who helped in diverse ways, but I hope that everyone will understand if I single out the young man whom I know is going to write a brilliant chapter in the economic history of our nation, and whom God has given to me as my Vice, Mahamudu Bawumia, who made an inestimable contribution to the success of our effort. I look forward eagerly to working with him for the progress of our beloved Ghana.

One would have thought that as the confidante and the next in command, the VP should have a more active and engaging role to play in the choice of the competent men and women who shall help the President execute his solemn agenda of transforming lives and transforming Ghana. In fact, the VP should not be playing a second fiddle to anybody else; friends or relatives.

As things stand now, some party members are nursing a feeling that attempt are being made to minimize or eliminate the possibilities of Dr. Mahmud Bawumia to succeed President Nana Akufo Ado eventually. The contention is that politics is a game of numbers, and so long as the VP does not have adequate appointees who owe him allegiance or are indebted to him for their nominations, it will be an uphill task if not impossible for him to garner the necessary financial and human resources to compete for the presidential slot.

This speculation may appear overboard, nonetheless, the manner the ministerial appointments have handled this far, tended to lend credence to this claim. This speculation could still be nibbed right in the bud by the President.

Going forward, the Fair-Minded NPP Alliance for Bawumia (FNAFB) would like to see an intense engagement of the VP in the nomination of candidates to fill up the remaining positions, thus, CEOs, Directors and Heads of state institutions. We shall be watching closely and thereafter advice ourselves appropriately.

We have so far managed to quell a few attempts by a section of our members to demonstrate against what they perceive as unjust treatment of the VP during the early appointments. We cannot by any means guarantee that we shall be able to persuade and convince these very troubled members to maintain their composure and remain calm.

In the light of ensuing developments, we would like to sternly warn those individuals at the helm of affairs, who for their own parochial interests are hell-bent on pushing the VP into a disadvantage point or putting him in a precarious state in order to make him less competitive, that their effort will be in vain. We shall not sit aloof for the VP or anyone for that matter who can facilitate the success of our great party after the graceful exit of President Nana Akufo Addo, to be treated unfairly.

Ours is a party that believe in the rule of law and fairness, and this principle must necessarily guide the conduct of members in the party at all material moments. We are definitely aware of how much the VP has given up and is still doing just to ensure that this Government succeeds in discharging its responsibilities, and delivering on his promises to Ghanaians.

The least that we expect from well meaning members of the party is to allow the government to work smoothly, so that Ghanaian will have a good cause to renew the party's mandate and give His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo a second term in office. Using ministerial appointments to short-changed the VP, in order to facilitate the realization of presidential ambition of select candidates is tantamount to a ploy in bad faith.

We would like to reiterate that any attempt to undermine the influence and relevance of the VP shall be used by NDC to justify its long running propaganda that the presidential slot in NPP is prerogative of the Akan.

We still recall the exact words of General Mosquito, Asiedu Nketia during the campaign: "I pity Bawumia for allowing himself to be used as a Trojan Horse" At another rally in the Northern Region, he had this to say on Bawumia:
He is behaving like a tadpole in a fishpond with tilapia fingerling. Very soon with the passage of time, he will lose his tail, and the legs will start forming and he will see that the tilapia is not his brother. He will see that the pond is not his family pond so don’t insult Bawumia, pray for him.
In fact, the immediate past President, His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama also re-echoed similar sentiment:

Sometimes, I feel sad when I see some of our northern brothers running and also doing this. They will use you and dump you.”...“Let anything happen today and let our brother Bawumia say he is standing for president in NPP. They will never give it to him I can assure you.

It is quite early in the days, however, our elders say the success or otherwise of a market day could be forecasted right from the morning. The actions and inactions of some highly placed individuals in the party may pave the way for this prejudiced prophesy to come to pass, and we can all imagine how vindicated General Mosquito, President John Dramani Mahama, and others would feel: they shall joyfully look at the VP in the face, and say loudly: WE TOLD YOU SO!!!

The consequences of clandestine blocking or limiting the chances of the candidacy of the VP or plucking his wings by manipulating the nominations and appointments to key positions has dire and far reaching consequences. Ever since His Excellency, Nana Akufo Addo offered Dr. Bawumia the opportunity to be his VP for the first time in 2008, he has proven beyond reasonable doubts that he is worthy of the position. The sacrifices he has made, and is still making cannot be overemphasized.

Any person or group of persons who think they can easily crowd out the VP in order to make way for the automatic ascension of their favourites to the top position would have to reconsider their plot again. The VP may be very calm and gentle, however, he cannot be pushed into the background, or unfairly consigned to oblivion, or cowed into resignation. He shall not suffer the same faith as Aliyu Mahama. of blessed memory, as JDM predicted.

We are as a group are resolved to ensure that our VP is treated fairly, and that a level playing field exists to all persons who have the capacity to serve NPP in the top position, regardless of their ethnicity or background. At this juncture, it is necessary that we are avert the minds of ethnocentric individuals who are keen on eliminating the VP from the equation to a very instructive article published by Professor H. Kwesi Prempeh on several key platforms on November 28, 2016, entitled: The Bawumia Factor in the 2016 Elections: Why It Represents a Mortal Threat to The NDC And an Opportunity to Transform The Basis Of Party Politics in Ghana.

The central argument of the paper is that just as Bawumia played a crucial role in securing a landslide victory for the party, how his presidential ambition is handled post Nana Akufo Ado could keep NPP in power for a long time or result in a painful defeat and a long stay in opposition.

The mere creation of a Zongo ministry and allocation of a lamp sum to cater for the diverse needs of Zangos would not automatically endear the NPP to the people of Zongo. The direct engagement and involvement of the VP in running the affairs of Ghana is far more important. The VP must necessarily be seen performing his roles and duties adequately and effectively as the second person in charge after President Nana Akufo Addo.

We are not by any means suggesting that Bawumia should be granted an automatic right to be the front runner. That is completely against the democratic ideals that NPP is noted for. In any case, it is quite premature for anyone to be thinking about what happens after President Nana Akufo Addo, let alone to use that as a basis of sidelining Bawumia and shielding him from performing the function and duties he has sworn to discharge to his best of abilities.

As a concerned group, we are calling on the President and all meaning men and women in the party to intervene and ensure that the concerns we have raised here are addressed urgently. Those behind these manoeuvres and machinations must be called to order. If they keep on going on this thorny path, their actions would surely ruin the fortunes of our great party and send us back to opposition after the first term of President Nana Akufo Addo.

We are aware that a few groups within the NPP are worried about these developments and it will surely be in the interest of the party for this matter to be taken care of quickly and timely. Otherwise, very soon, we will begin witnessing a series of demonstrations in solidarity for the VP.





Secretary of the Group