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Opinions of Monday, 14 September 2009

Columnist: Asare, Nana Kwame

Did Akufo-Addo Goof In Chosing Bawumia?

As a political analyst, I’m positive last year’s election was won by the party who had the best Election Day ways-and-means strategy. The failure of the NPP’s seemingly well coordinated campaign to win in 2008 has been attributed to different people from party elders, leaders, aficionados and apparatchiks. Everybody blames everyone and the divisions are widening.

In the aftermath of the elections, we have witnessed Kufuor being blamed, Nana Akufo-Addo taking a bashing and even Dr. Bawumia just for his nomination. A recent write up on myjoyonline criticized Nana’s choice of Dr. Bawumia, a relatively unknown in Ghanaian political circles as his running mate.

I disagree with the assertions that Akufo-Addo goofed with his choice of running mate on the simple and matter-of-fact principle that running mates do not win elections but candidates who appear on ballot papers do. Running mates are there to give the balance that a candidate might lack.I believe Dr. Bawumia was chosen to provide the Northern, Muslim,youthful and technocratic balance that the NPP needed. Nana was visionary in his choice because he envisaged the world economic crisis hitting Ghana sooner and thus his choice of Bawumia who had proven to be one of the finest finance and economic brains in Ghana to help him manage the economy if he won. Likewise, John Mahama’s choice provided the northern and youthful balance the NDC needed but he was not the reason NDC won in 2008. When Obama needed balance with foreign experience, Joe Biden was chosen, but Bidden was not the reason why Obama won- he just gave the assurance that the team would deliver on foreign relations.

Anyone who knows the voting history of the Mamprusi’s will not blame Bawumia for not delivering them to the NPP. If any of the conspiracy theorists did, they would know that Mamprusis never vote for their own kind but they vote for a political party. Here is the reason for my assertion; Dr. Edward Mahama is a Mamprusi from Nalerigu. He has been on the ballot three times since 1996 to be president of Ghana but he has never won the presidential vote in any of the Mamprusi areas nor claimed a single seat in the four constituencies dominated by the Mamprusis in the northern region. Another case in point is our very own John Atta- Mills who took three attempts and twelve years campaigning before finally the Fanti’s decided to give him a chance. My point?- is that it will be unfair to judge Dr. Bawumia on the fact that he failed to deliver the Mamprusi votes because to be fair, three months of any political campaign will not make any significant impact on a people who religiously vote for a particular party.

Using just the Mamprusi votes to judge Dr. Bawumia is again unfair because over the years, NPP has not done well in the north in general and three months of Bawunia’s presence was not the silver-bullet to end the party’s woes up north-lets be fair to the young man. With Ghana’s democracy as it is now, even if the NPP chooses an Ewe presidential candidate or running mate they will not overcome the NDC in the Volta region. Likewise, the NDC will not overcome the NPP in Ashanti region if they chose an Ashanti presidential candidate or running mate. I say again that running mates are chosen to give a balance and to augment the main candidate but they are not the reason why parties win or lose elections. Sarah Palin with all her troubles was not the reason McCain lost to Obama-American exit polls show that. Never in the history of presidential voting has a running mate won an election for the main candidate.

I can now guess an argument you will want to make- John Mahama delivered the Gonja votes. Yes right! John has been a Gonja MP for most of his professional life and besides that, when has the NPP won in Bole Bamboi or any other Gonja seat? The only Gonja seat NPP controlled was Salaga and even that was an inheritance from Boniface who had won it as an independent.

If one critically assesses Bawumia’s performance during the 2008 campaign, it was excellent for a political novice. During the vice presidential debate in Cape Coast, he excelled by dazzling the audience and Ghanaians whiles bamboozling his fellow debaters. In the 2008 elections, the quantum of NPP votes improved by 16.3% in the Northern Region, 18% in the Upper West Region and marginally by 2% in the Upper East Region which others can confidently attribute the to his nomination- if we want to be fair because he represented the whole northern region and not just the Mamprusis.

In my candid opinion, the election was lost by the NPP team and not individuals because if they had won it will not have been just Nana Addo’s victory but an NPP victory. The elections were lost from the grassroots to the top. Everybody failed to deliver where it mattered.

As a party, NPP should forget who did what and go back to the drawing table and re-group for the 2012 elections. This should be done with the mindset that what is required is not just the amendments to the constitution but a serious rebranding and a holistic change in hearts, minds, thinking and attitudes is required if they are to convince Ghanaians to trust them to run the country again.

Good luck in 2012!

Nana Kwame Asare is a Political Analyst