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Opinions of Saturday, 29 February 2020

Columnist: Issah Abdul Rahman, Contributor

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia: The man whose facts and data his opponents dread to face


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Two weeks ago at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana's Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia led a government presentation to account to Ghanaians what the NPP Government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been doing in the past three years since they assumed office in 2017.

Dr. Bawumia's presentation was an extensive one which captured the government’s programmes and achievements in all sectors. The presentation also boldly listed all promises the NPP and then Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo made prior to the 2016 elections, as well as the state of each promise; whether delivered, delivering or pending.

Frankly, the presentation was ladened with facts and irrefutable data, and it was delivered by a man who has mastered the complex art of political communication.

In a remarkable show of political and communication astuteness, Dr. Bawumia began his delivery by taking his audience and the nation through the economic trajectory of the country through the tenure of the last NDC government up to 2016, when the NDC government of President Mahama came to an end and the NPP took over.

By taking his audience back, to what he used irrefutable data to point out was a terribly-managed economy and some social challenges, Dr. Bawumia cleverly and successfully reconnected his audience and the nation to the gloomy past under the NDC for them to appreciate the effort of the Akuffo-Addo government he was about to enumerate. That was an intelligent move by a man who clearly understands the nuances of political communication.

Having reminded everybody the state of affairs of the country they inherited in 2017, Dr. Bawumia then eloquently enumerated the various interventions the NPP government has made in the management of the economy; agriculture, industries, infrastructure, education, social interventions, among many others. Unsurprisingly, the area which attracted the focus of the Vice President was the management of the economy by the Nana Akuffo-Addo Government. He interspersed his authoritative delivery with credible data from state and international institutions to prove how the Nana Addo Government has outperformed the previous Mahama led government in all economic indicators including exchange rate management, inflation, interest rate, etc.

At the end of his delivery, Dr. Bawumia boldly proclaimed that data doesn’t lie, and he challenged anyone with a contrary data to come forward and challenge his claims. And when the Vice President made that bold challenge, he was definitely referring to the biggest opposition party, the NDC.

NDC INTO HIBERNATION

Dr. Bawumia’s fact-laden presentation appears to have sent the NDC into hibernation. It has been over two weeks since Dr. Bawumia made his presentation and dared the NDC to respond if they had contrary figures. The usually vociferous NDC, who often unleash their most acerbic tongues to attack the Vice President anytime he speaks, have gone into hiding this time. The very few who have so far attempted to provide a face-saving response have been very embarrassing to say the least.

Former Ministers under the Mahama regime, Omane Boamah and Felix Kwakye Ofosu were the first from the NDC camp to attempt a characteristic swift response a few minutes after the presentation. However, their interventions were at best, embarrassing.

In Dr. Bawumia’s presentation, he used a Bank of Ghana data on annual Cedi depreciation rate from 1992 to prove how the NPP, under Nana Akufo-Addo holds the record of the best managers of the Cedi in any government’s first term of office since 1992. By the same data, Dr. Bawumia proved how the Cedi was losing value in a fast and Usain-Bolt like pace at an annual depreciation rate of 18.0 % between 2013 and 2016 under the leadership of Former President Mahama, against the NPP's 8.7 annual depreciation rate between 2017 and 2019.

In a hurried and desperate attempt to perhaps be the first from the NDC to respond to Dr. Bawumia, both Felix Kwakye Ofosu and Omane Boamah ended up embarrassing themselves and attracting the mockery of twitter users moments after the presentation two weeks ago. In a bizarre misunderstanding of the economic issues, the former ministers took the 2019 Cedi depreciation rate alone to conclude that Dr. Bawumia was lying and proceeded to attack the Vice President.

The duo's ignorance on the economic issue were mocked by people on social media, who asked the Ministers to stop displaying their economic ignorance publicly. Clearly, Omane Boamah and Felix Kwakye Ofosu didn't understand the issues.

PRESIDENT MAHAMA FAILS TO RESPOND

A couple of days ago, former President Mahama refused to comment in detail when a television reporter asked him to respond to the Bank of Ghana data Dr. Bawumia presented, which showed that the current NPP government has been the 2nd best managers of the Cedi (after Kufuor's 2nd term government), and his (Mahama's) government recorded the 3rd worst management of the Cedi by any government since 1992.

Clearly, at an average annual depreciation rate of 18% against the Nana Akufo-Addo government's 2nd best record of 8.8%, it is easy to understand why former President Mahama refused to comment. What else could he say or defend when the Bank of Ghana's irrefutable data which Dr. Bawumia used in his presentation stared him in the face?

The only escape route for President Mahama was to avoid the subject and he did just that! After all, even his economic advisers and self-styled economic gurus in the party have all gone into hibernation since Dr. Bawumia's presentation.

ADONGO'S LAUGHABLE CHALLENGE

After going into hiding for two weeks and failing to offer any reasonable and factual response to Dr. Bawumia's presentation, the NDC's self-proclaimed economic wizard Hon. Albert Adongo, showed up at a forum from his hideout to offer a laughable challenge to Dr. Bawumia.

The essence of the forum Adongo spoke on was to asses the performance of the Nana Akufo-Addo government in three years and many would've expected the loquacious Adongo to use the platform respond to the Vice President using irrefutable data.

Rather, and so typical of him, he chose the easiest option to avoid the facts of Dr. Bawumia.

By telling his expectant audience and NDC party faithful that he needed a face-to-face debate with Dr. Bawumia before he would respond to the Vice President, Adongo was clearly running away! A serious economist and a serious political party that has facts and irrefutable data to expose its political opponent, in this case the ruling government, will never wait for a minute to do so.

Is Adongo saying that until he realises his fantasies of a face-to-face debate with Dr. Bawumia, he will never respond to all the economic data the Vice President put out in his Kumasi presentation?

Mr. Adongo and the NDC don't need a face-to-face debate with the Vice President to state their so called facts to Ghanaians. When then running mate Dr. Bawumia had facts and indisputable data on the economy and the performance of the Mahama Government, he didn't wait, or call for a fantasy debate with then Vice President Amissah Arthur. Dr. Bawumia created his own platforms and made sound presentations to the good people of Ghana. On the contrary, he rather challenged the then government to respond and refute his claims. As it is happening now, the NDC never responded.

So in effect, the NDC run away from Dr. Bawumia's fact while in government and they are again running away from his facts in opposition.

PROVEN TRACK RECORD

Without doubt, Dr. Bawumia has a proven and unblemished track record when it comes to presentation of facts and undeniable economic data.

There are many examples which buttress this.

In the maiden IEA-organised Vice Presidential debate in 2012, Dr. Bawumia impressed many with his economic analysis when he faced off with then Vice President Amissah Arthur in a televised debate held in Takoradi.

Again, he was on top of issues and his data when he led the NPP's 2012 Elections Petition at the Supreme Court as the Star Witness.

In 2013, he wrote articles and made comprehensive analysis to expose deficiencies in the management of the economy by the Mahama-led government.

In 2014, during a lecture at the Central University College, he made a prophetic prediction that the Mahama government would run to the IMF for bailout and gave various reasons for his prediction. Dr. Bawumia was insulted and vilified by the Mahama government, but time vindicated him as the Mahama-led government run to the IMF for bailout, precisely as he predicted.

And in 2016 prior to the elections, Dr. Bawumia delivered what was arguably his biggest and most impactful public lecture in his political career. Themed "the state of the Ghanaian economy - a foundation of concrete or straw?," Dr. Bawumia made a comprehensive analysis on the Ghanaian economy, using data and statistics from irrefutable sources such as the Bank of Ghana, Ghana Statistical Service, IMF, World Bank to expose the ills of the economy.

In that widely publicised lecture, which dominated media discussions for weeks, Dr. Bawumia virtually ripped apart the Mahama government and its economic handlers with facts and figures. It was at that lecture Dr. Bawumia, once again, predicted the imminent collapse of many banks due to weak management and supervision. And it was at that lecture Dr. Bawumia asked then Vice President Amissah Arthur and the NDC over 100 economic questions, which they never provided the answers until they were voted out of office.

In all the above presentations, Dr. Bawumia spoke factually with irrefutable data. When you deal with factual economic data, you are able to make informed predictions and that's what the Vice President has done since his emergence onto the political scene.

His opponents are not able to face his facts and data and debate him on issues because facts are sacred and in economics, you don't debate with lies and propaganda.

This article should have been written two weeks ago when Dr. Bawumia made his data-laden presentation, but I gave the NDC the benefit of the doubt that this time, they would respond with their own set of factual data, as the Vice President challenged them do if they had one.

But it appears the NDC has heeded the advice of one of their leading members, Allotey Jacobs, who publicly adviced his party members not to send just anybody to respond to Dr. Bawumia because of the level he has taken political communications to.

"He (Vice President Bawumia) has digitized our communication and he has separated propaganda and facts," Allotey Jacobs said on Peace FM recently.

Allotey Jacobs continued: "What I'm saying is, who can come forward and punch holes in the presentation of Vice President Bawumia?"

"They say monkeys play by sizes. That is why I am saying we (NDC) need someone who can match up to Dr. Bawumia."

Allotey Jacobs was publicly insulted by his own party colleagues after speaking the painful truth, but deep down in the heart of even the most ardent NDC fans, they know it is the painful truth.

As Allotey Jacobs rightly pointed out, the NDC needs someone at the level of Dr. Bawumia who can respond to his presentations with facts, not the usual propaganda and insults.

But the big question is who?

Nobody did that when they were in government and nobody has done that in opposition. In other words, the NDC has been very consistent in running away from the facts and data of Dr. Bawumia.

In conclusion, I have to say the Vice President, Dr. Bawumia is not a super human. He is a mere mortal just like any of us. However, he has proven that he is a brilliant, meticulous and an honest economist who relies on facts and incontestable economic data to support his public presentations. This is what has made him a revered economist and one of the most effective political communicators of our time.

You cannot taint Dr. Bawumia’s hard-won, internationally acclaimed reputation with propaganda, outright lies and insults.

Ghana is wide awake and the era of unduly profiting from politics of insult is gone. We are in an era of digitization in the country, and Dr. Bawumia has proven that even data on political promises must be digitized to make them easily verifiable by the people.

As the leading member of the NDC, Allotey Jacobs honestly conceded, Dr. Bawumia has raised the bar in political communication. His opponents can only learn.


NOTE
The writer can be contacted on: alrahmanssah@gmail.com

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