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Opinions of Thursday, 3 December 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

It Makes No Difference, If You Asked Me

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Nov. 26, 2015
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

They have been bandying this about for some time now. I mean the question of whether President John Mahama ought to retain his arch-lieutenant and incumbent Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur (See “‘A Lady Running-Mate Good for Mahama’” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 11/26/15). To be able to do justice to such a question, what first needs to be done is to figure out precisely what motivated then-Transitional President Mahama to settle on the then-Governor of the country’s treasury, the Bank of Ghana, as his running-mate. As I vividly recall, two strategic concerns faced Mr. Mahama in the wake of the passing of then-President John Evans Atta-Mills, namely, how to maintain Fante electoral support, on the one hand, and the looming Bawumia specter. In fact, in settling on Mr. Amissah-Arthur, President Mahama intended to kill two birds with one stone.

Having wept bitterly – perhaps as part of his theatrical gimmickry – at the Cape Coast memorial observance for the late President, whom his interim replacement pontifically claimed to have mentored him as an avuncular figure, and passionately pleaded to be “naturalized” into a Fante ethnic identity, and having been apparently accepted as such, perhaps in certain expectation of some generous rewards, it was now the turn of the Gonja native to reciprocate this most kindly gesture. Mr. Mahama clearly felt extremely vulnerable then as now, for there are those teeming percentages of Ghanaian citizens who still strongly believe that President Mills’ passing had quite a remarkable bit to do with some sort of foul play. Matters have also not been helped by the constant vacillation of the public opinion on this issue by some of the most prominent, distinguished and intimate members of the Ekumfi-Otuam members of the late President’s clan.

Recently, for example, Dr. Cadman Mills, the fraternal twin-brother of the late former Legon tax-law professor, publicly asserted that he was convinced that his brother’s death was the veritable handiwork of foul play. The problem here, though, is that Cadman has always maintained, since the death of his elder brother, that the first Fourth-Republican Ghanaian leader to die in office died of natural causes. Then the late President’s only child also publicly stated in the wake of his father’s passing that, indeed, President Mills had died of natural causes. Now, the younger Mr. Mills, like his Uncle Cadman, is also singing the “foul-play” tune. The credibility question obviously comes to the fore here. But what is even more perplexing is the fact that President Mahama has yet to boldly and confidently make any definitive statement on the murky circumstances surrounding the death of his former boss and immediate predecessor.

At any rate, selecting Mr. Amissah-Arthur as his running-mate put the Fante faction of the Anlo-Ewe-minted and dominated National Democratic Congress (NDC) quite a bit at ease, if clearly also because the members of this faction felt themselves to be only one pulse-beat, once more, away from the presidency. They had obviously felt cruelly cheated of their chance to steer the affairs of the country, having worked so exceptionally hard, as a people, towards the decolonization and the glorious reassertion by Ghana of her sovereignty from British colonial imperialism. The undoubtedly masterful decision by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to partner himself with Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the astute Oxbridge-schooled former Deputy-Governor of the Bank of Ghana, had given the leadership of the National Democratic Congress no mean jitters, as it were. For not only had the Mamprusi patrician proven himself to be matched by only a handful of peers in the academic and professional discipline of development economics, as he had amply demonstrated as an arch-lieutenant to Dr. Paul Acquah at the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Bawumia was also young and ebulliently energetic. Simply put, the young man could think on his feet.

Well, in selecting Mr. Amissah-Arthur as his running-mate, the Moscow-educated President Mahama hoped to have found a formidable answer to his most formidable political opponent. Three years later, Dr. Bawumia continues to dazzle Ghanaians with his lambent-witted and poignant analysis of the epic and Stygian mess wreaked on the otherwise robust oil-rich national economy. On the other hand, his most ardent critics among the top-echelon membership of the National Democratic Congress believe that Vice-President Amissah-Arthur has little to show for his talent that is worthy of our admiration, vis-à-vis his role and function as Ghana’s second most powerful leader during the past three years.

The problem with the heated debate on the competence or the abject lack thereof on the part of Vice-President Amissah-Arthur is the fact that the latter’s most ardent critics, particularly among the leadership of the ruling party, is the flat, adamant and embarrassing refusal of these same critics to squarely recognize the fact that any referendum on the competence of Mr. Amissah-Arthur is also inescapably a referendum on the decision-making competence or leadership flair on the part of President John Dramani Mahama.