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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Is Bawumia’s Christo-Muslim presidency campaign madness?

Sometimes, I wonder what is in the heads of senior politicians in Ghana who make fools of themselves with divisive ethnic and religious statements on the campaign trail. I am also not sure if Ayikoi Otoo’s theory of ‘Gbeshie’ as the reason behind such irrational utterances from politicians is anything to believe. In fact, my last article on Dzifa Attivor’s racist campaign message had not even appeared on Ghanaweb when I read that Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the main opposition party, NPP also asked Muslims to vote for him and Nana Akufo-Addo as the current presidency is made up of mostly Christians. According to Dr Bawumia, the presidency is religiously skewed because the seat of government does not adequately reflect one part of the two dominant religious groupings in the country (see “Flagstaff House religiously skewed – Bawumia”, Ghanaweb, May 1, 2016). This article is a brief analysis of Bawumai’s religious balance madness to gain votes.

First and foremost, Dr Bawumia as a potential Vice-President of the Republic ought to and must familiarised himself with the tenets of the 1992 Constitution on the make-up or appointment of public officials, including the Executive. Nowhere in the constitution is religious balance mentioned as a requirement for executive or public appointments. The only criteria are regional and gender balance, though the Directive Principles of State Policy in Chapter Six talks about integration and non-discrimination.

Article 35(5) states “the State shall actively promote the integration of the peoples of Ghana and prohibit discrimination and prejudice on the grounds of place of origin, circumstances of birth, ethnic origin, gender or religion, creed or other beliefs”. Article 35(6) also states, “towards the achievement of the objectives stated in clause (5) of this article, the State shall take appropriate measures to - (b) achieve reasonable regional and gender balance in recruitment and appointment to public offices”.

The question is, on what basis will Dr Bawumia ensure that the staff of the presidency or the executive arm of government is representative of Christians and Muslims? How is the religious balance to be achieved, proportionally based on total population or what? Would appointments be made on the basis of one’s religion and not competence? How would an Akufo-Addo-Bawumia administration appoint two-thirds of ministers from the legislature as proportionate representatives of Christians and Muslims? What about the other minority faith as well as those without any religious belief? Is Bawumia suggesting that by merely having a Vice-President as a Muslim his so-called religious balance would be achieved? What did the last NPP Christian-Muslim led administration do for Muslims in Ghana?

To say that Dr Bawumia is a disappointment is an understatement, especially for him to make such dangerous statement against the background of the rise in global Islamic fundamentalism and the recent demands by some misguided Muslims students in Christian schools not say Christian prayers at morning assemblies. This is not what is expected of a future Vice-President. It is also sad in view of the fact that his party condemned Dzifa Attivor for asking Ewes to vote for NDC a few days ago. I now doubt if Dr Bawumia is fit for the office of Vice-President as he is beginning to show signs of immaturity under pressure. It appears Bawumia is panicking from Mahama’s “Accounting to the People Tour” so he is resorting to fanning religious divisions in Ghana. This divisive politics of divide and rule is dangerous and the earlier Ghanaian politicians put an end to it the better before it destroys Ghana. They should look at what ethnocentrism did to Rwanda and Boko Haram is doing to Nigeria, the Taliban did to Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda to the world. Religious bigotry should have no place in Ghanaian politics.

Wonders shall never end. Whilst NPP condemned Dziffa Attivor, the same NPP is defending Bawumia on his religious inflammatory campaign message. Nana Akomea, the NPP Director of Communications defended Bawumia’s statement as making a case for religious inclusion (see, “Bawumia is making a case for balance inclusion-Akomea justifies”, Myjoyonline, May 2, 2016). I am not surprised because NDC and NPP are two sides of the same coin. They will always defend their own even if it’s indefensible and condemn the other. That is not strange as they are Ghanaians and that is why the two parties are part of Ghana’s problems and not the solution.

Ghana is sleep walking into some form of conflict manufactured and engineered by politicians for their selfish and parochial interests of seeking political power for which they must be condemned, shamed and rejected by voters. There is only one Ghana and irrespective of ethnicity, religion, sex, political affiliation or whatever, Ghanaians should not allow deluded and greedy politicians to divide and rule over them. Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is not a pseudo Muslims deceiving true Muslims for their votes. A true Muslim unites but not divide those he seeks their mandate for political office.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK