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Opinions of Monday, 24 February 2014

Columnist: Annor, Joseph

Why NPP Should NPP Choose Bawumia

.... and Not Nana Akuffo Addo for 2016

Firstly, I wish to state from the onset that no one can take from Nana Akuffo Addo the dedicated and competent service that he has rendered to mother Ghana. He has dedicated almost all his adult live to serve Ghana and I believe all Ghanaians should recognise that. In fact, due to the way he conducted himself throughout the Presidential election trial and how he accepted the result of the Supreme Court, despite that he disagreed without it, all fair minded Ghanaians including even some NDC members openly commended him.

Further, I also believe that he would have been a very good leader who would have served Ghana with selfless interest if he had been chosen at either 2008 or 2012 presidential election, and that Ghana would not have been in the economic turmoil that it finds itself since Atta Mills and Mahama governments started to rule Ghana. From the inception of their rules, they have used propaganda, while there is no substance in the programs that they are implementing. Ghana has now sunk into economic abyss. Corruption and economic mismanagement have become the orders of the day.

Notwithstanding the above factors and the fact that Ghanaians are yearning for the rescue by NPP, NPP still risks losing the 2016 elections if they chose Nana Akuffo Addo as the presidential candidate over Bawumia for the following reasons:

Incumbency

The NPP should bear in mind that as the government in power, NDC has huge advantage and they will use their advantage as the government in power to influence a lot of electoral decisions to their advantage. It has been well discussed that NDC used the State money to buy cars and other gifts for chiefs, university students and etc in order to influence the 2012 electoral outcome. Further, as Dr Bawumia proved at the Supreme Court hearing, NDC engaged in massive electoral fraud and it was only by the bias and reckless decision of Atuguba that saved them as Atuguba made his mind even before the beginning of the hearing of the case, otherwise, he would not write in his decision that the Courts are reluctant to overturn election results. I deem the statement to be very irresponsible and backward. For these and other reasons, it is important to choose a candidate that will be able to increase significantly the votes of NPP to the extent that the NPP gain in votes will offset the effect of any NDC’s electoral fraud.

Age and health

Although, Nana Akoffo Addo has not yet disclosed whether he will stand again for the position of the presidential candidate of NPP, but NDC has already started spreading rumours that he is sick that is why he has gone to London. In the event that Nana is chosen to represent NPP, these kinds of rumours will intensify. Why I do not know anything about Nana’s health and the rumours may be a mere propaganda, there is one thing that everyone surely knows about him, Nana is now 69 years old, as he was born on 29 March 1944. Therefore, Nana will be only about 3 months shy of 73 years by the time Ghana goes to elections in December 2016. There is no doubt that in general as people grow old, they turn to experience more problems with their health. Further, we all know that in 2012, John Mahama played the age card and he will most likely play it even more in 2016, if Nana is chosen as NPP presidential candidate. By being over 70 years, Nana will be a real old man by then, whether we like it or not. Given the experience that Ghana had with the death of Atta Mills, many Ghanaians will be reluctant to elect an old man as their presidential candidate.

I have done a research on the ages at which all the United States’ presidents were first elected since 1787 to now. None of them was ever 70 years when he first came into power. The oldest person to have ever come into power was Ronald Reagan at the age of 69 and the second oldest was William Henry Harrison (the 9th President) who came into power 4 March 1841 but died of pneumonia exactly one month after his inauguration on 4 April 1841. Other than Reagan and Harrison, no one has ever been elected as president for the first time when the person was over 65 years old. Therefore, apart from Reagan, no US president would have been more than 73 years at the end of his first or second four years term. Only Regan would have been 77. In contrast, at almost 73, Nana will be almost 77 by the end of his first term and 81 at the end of his second term. I think Ghanaians are looking for a younger person.

Further, most of the US presidents have been not more than 60 years when they were first elected. Out of 44 presidents that they have had since 1787, 10 have been between the age of 42 and 50 when they were first elected including Obama and Clinton. In fact, as many as 34 were less than 60 years when they were first elected. Thus, only 10 of them were between 60 and 69 years when they were first elected, but none has ever been 70 years, when he was first elected. In fact, apart from George Bush’s bad economic management, the old age of John McCain also contributed to his defeat by Barack Obama in 2008. The youth simply do not want their president to look like an old man.

From the foregoing discussion, it is important that NPP choses a candidate who will be young in 2016, as that will ensure that NDC will not gain any advantage over them in terms of age. I think Nana can serve in Bawumia’s government in another capacity such as the chairman of the Council of State. Otherwise, Nana has already made his mark and what he has achieved is far more important than some of the clueless presidents and head of states that have only caused misery to the people through their poor economic management.
Although, NPP appears to have a system where they decide that based on the effort that a particular person has spent on the party and his seniority in the party, it is now his turn to lead the party. Unfortunately, the system is not helping the party’s candidate during the presidential election and therefore, it is imperative to try other means to improve its electoral fortunes. After all, it is better for NPP to have candidate who can win irrespective of his past contribution to the party.

The Akan propaganda

Although, I myself do not believe that NPP is an Akan party, there is no doubt that NDC has successively used this propaganda message to gain electoral advantage over NPP. In fact, NDC has even gone to the extent of breaking NPP front in the Akan areas by pitching Ashantis and Akyems against other Akans, as they now claim that NPP is dominated by only the above mentioned two tribes and that all presidential candidates of NPP has come from these two tribes. However, I consider the above propaganda to be absolute dishonesty. How many Akyems, Bronos, Gas and etc have been chosen as the presidential candidates or even the running mates of NDC? All their presidential and running mates have come from only three areas (Fante, Ewes and the North). So, why do they not consider their party to be tribalistic when they do not appoint any Ashanti or Ga for presidential or running mate? Why is it that they are always appointing a Fante as a presidential candidate or running mate and not a person from the other Akan areas or even a Ga or something like that. The reasons for this are simple. The Fantes are the second largest tribe among the Akans and only Ashanti is larger than them. Further, it is the third largest of all tribes in Ghana only smaller than Ashantis and Ewes. In addition, there are almost as many Fantes in the Western region as in the Central region. Therefore, they appear to vote in the same direction in almost every election. Therefore, by choosing a president or his vice from the Fantes, NDC is taking advantage of winning the votes of Fantes, who are significantly spread across two regions. This is important to NDC as if NPP had won any of the two regions decisively, it would have won the last two elections.

Unfortunately, NPP’s strategy of choosing a presidential candidate from North has not provided the same good result. As a result of the propaganda war, what many people are saying is that unless NPP actually appoints none Akan as the presidential candidate and not a running mate, they will not discard believing in this propaganda war. And if you think that only the people in the small towns or people with limited education have this view, then think again. I have discussed this issue with many well educated people who are not Akans, some even having their Masters and PhD degrees, but sadly, they also believe the same. Therefore, unless NPP chooses a non-Akan candidate, the perception will never go away. Sure, we do not have to choose a presidential candidate from the non-Akan tribe even if there is a far better candidate coming from an Akan area, as I believe substance over form. However, this time round this is not the case, as Dr Bawumia is as good as any other person in NPP. Therefore, by choosing Dr Bawumia, we will be considering both his substance and ethnic background and not only one.

Anyway, to NDC once they appoint someone from Fante, it means they have Akans appointed. In any case, despite they accused Kuffour of having too many Akans in his government, look at how many Northerners and Ewes are holding ministerial and other portfolio. If they are sincere to themselves, they will now recognise that the choice of ministers by a president is not necessary based on tribal lines but on other issues. All those who accuse Kuffour of tribalism and do not see anything with Mahama’s appointment should now be sincere to themselves and realise that Kuffour did not do anything different.
Despite the above, NDC is doing what they know doing best, propaganda! They stated that they are giving us better Ghana agenda and people like Alottey Jacobs even stated that if you are not experiencing the better Ghana agenda, then you are not in Ghana as even Asiedu Nkatia has put on weight. Anyway, their propaganda has caught up with them. The economy is now on sick bed and the cedi is experiencing the worst ever free fall.

Therefore, NPP has to face the realities of NDC’s propaganda and implements pragmatic party decisions that will enable NPP to neutralise such propaganda attack. In my mind, there is nothing that NPP can easily do to achieve that other than choosing a non-Akan as its presidential candidate. Despite the propaganda having no substance at all, it is hurting the party and NPP has to respond to that in order to increase its electoral fortune. In fact, of late some NPP members such as Nyaho-Tamakloe are even helping NDC to preach that propaganda. It is important that NPP will do all that it can to minimise the damage of this propaganda war against them.

To effectively counteract this Akan party propaganda, NPP has no choice than to elect a non-Akan as the presidential candidate of the party. Unless NPP take this stand, it will be taking a huge gamble in 2016.

Economic Mismanagement

After years and years of NDC propaganda, it has now become obvious to everyone that it has mismanaged the economy through corruption, suspicious judgement debt payment and etc. The economy has now come down on its knees and NDC cannot anymore hide the true state of the economy. In fact, the recent dramatic fall of the rate of the cedi against other major currency is a clear indication of how the economy has been mismanaged by Mahama and his incompetent team. President Mahama who majored in history in his first degree and subsequently studied mass communication has no clue about how to manage economy. He simply does not understand economic principles. While his vice president is an economist, he does not have any good reputation either as he performed poorly as the Governor at the Bank of Ghana. In short, NPP will be going into the 2016 elections with strong advantage as far as the economy is concerned. However, I do not believe that this alone is enough to completely offset the NDC propaganda machinery and electoral fraud. We need to choose a candidate with strong economic credentials and very sharp mind. While NPP abounds in many of such candidates, I am sure Dr Bawumia who has demonstrated that in many respect including his achievements as part of the senior management team at Bank of Ghana who helped President Kuffour with various policies to transferred the economy significantly; but all the gains have now been totally reversed by the incompetent President Mahama and his team.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, I believe the best person that can help NPP to win more votes is Dr Bawumia. Although, Alan Kyeremateng and others may be good choice as well, I believe personally that as a result of NDC’s propaganda against NPP especially in relation to the perception that NPP is an Akan party, there is the need to choose someone who will completely neutralise the effect of this propaganda. This could be no other person than Dr Bawumia. As a Northerner and Moslem, he stands a better chance of making inroads into some part of NDC heartland particularly the Northern Ghana and the Moslem communities. Further, he also has the necessary competencies to manage the economy. He has been tested as an excellent economist as the Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana and other roles that he has performed in other jurisdictions. In my view, it is not only NPP that requires such a person, the mother Ghana also requires someone with such economic background and who understand how to develop and understand good economic policies to revitalise the economy, which is now in a very poor shape. In short, choosing Bawumia will be like killing two beds with one stone, thus, defeating NDC and also having a competent person that can help the economy to rejuvenate. The NPP may fail its responsibility as a good alternative government to Ghanaians if it fails to appoint Bawumia.
Lastly, half a word, as they say, is sufficient for the wise!

Joseph Annor: B. A. (Hons) University of Ghana, Master of Business in Accounting (UTS); CPA.