Analysis On Suitable Candidate
…To Partner Dr. Bawumia As Running Mate
By Mohammed Ali
Following the emphatic election of H.E Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia as the NPP’s flag bearer, the spotlight has been put on the selection of a Running Mate to complete the Party’s 2024 presidential ticket.
The NPP Constitution provides in Article 13(3) that, when the President is not the Candidate, the Vice Presidential Candidate shall be nominated AT LEAST TWELVE (12) MOTHNS before the general elections unless the National Council under special circumstances dispenses with this requirement. So, per this provision, the Party has less than one (1) week to name a Running Mate unless the National Council decides otherwise.
As expected, speculations are rife, and several prominent names have been mentioned for this job. Unfortunately, only one person will make it. In this piece, the writer, a staunch member of the NPP, will be making a critical analysis of the “Running Mate saga”, assessing the chances of the leading contenders, and making a calculated projection on who best qualifies for selection as Running Mate for the NPP’s Presidential Candidate, having in mind, the must-win election in 2024.
Going by the established convention of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition (i.e. the NPP), the Running Mate to Dr. Bawumia (a Dombo), necessarily has to be a Busia. It began with President John Agyekum Kufuor (a Busia), went to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo (a Danquah), and now, to Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia (a Dombo). From the Dombos, the next in line is certainly the Busias for the chain to continue in that cycle.
In fact, one of the key campaign messages of team Bawumia ahead of the Party’s presidential primaries, was that, the Busias had their turn, followed by the Danquahs, and so, it was the turn of the Dombos. They were right then, and they are right today. They are 100% percent right. Indeed, the Party’s delegates confirmed that by voting for the Dombos.
So, by this analysis, from the Dombos, it has to go back to the Busias. That is why a Dombo Presidential Candidate, (in the person of Dr. Bawumia) must select a Busia as his next-in- command or Running Mate. Selecting a Busia means that the Running Mate has to come from the Akan zone particularly Ashanti or the original Brong Ahafo Region. However, given the current dynamics, it is safe to say that Dr. Bawumia’s Running Mate must be selected from the Ashanti Region.
Anything short of that would mean the current NPP has broken its time-tested tradition, the most enduring political tradition in Ghana’s history, the only political tradition that predated Ghana’s independence, survived all Republics and also survived the torturous period of military takeovers (coups), till the Fourth Republic. I say without doubt that the only reason why the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition has come this far is because of its fidelity to tradition, to its values, to its principles and to its age long convention. It would be fatal for the Party to lose its traditional identity.
In view of the above, it saddens me that even though there are some great personalities from H.E Nana Akufo-Addo’s Eastern Region (i.e. the Danquahs) including Hon. Bryn Acheampong, Hon Ursula Owusu et al, who could best partner Dr. Bawumia, the season we are in, unfortunately, does not make room for such partnership at all. It would, in fact, be the most politically inexpedient decision to take under the prevailing circumstances.
The season we are in, as pointed out in the analysis hereinbefore, necessarily requires that Dr. Bawumia’s Running Mate must come from the Ashanti Region (i.e. a Busia). The necessity for choosing a Running Mate from the Ashanti Region has been further amplified by the existential threats posed by Alan Kyerematen’s candidature. Alan, who hails from the Ashanti Region, is singularly focused on sweeping the NPP’s vote in the Region (said to be the NPP’s life-wire). He virtually spends 85% of his time and resources canvassing the Ashanti Regional votes, and sometimes, when it suits him, he purports to be a member of the Party.
The NPP must therefore select a Running Mate who, not only comes from the Ashanti Region, but who also has the wherewithal to completely surmount and neutralise the Alan threat and overwhelmingly rally the support of Asanteman for the Party. The person must be one who carries the spirit of Asanteman and enjoys the support of the chiefs and people of Asanteman. Of course, Dr. Bawumia also needs a Running Mate who is younger than him, and can succeed him as next flag bearer and President.
So, with this “marking scheme”, let’s now take a deep look at the possible leading contenders (from Ashanti Region) whose names have come out, and assess their chances.
I start with the current Chief of Staff, MADAM AKOSUA FREMA OPARE. She is much older than Dr. Bawumia. She also doesn’t come across as having the support of the chiefs of Asanteman and the young people in the Region. My verdict on her is that, while she is a good vice presidential material, she may not be able to significantly galvanize the support of Asanteman as is needed to help the NPP break the eight.
Next, HON. OSEI KYEI MENSAH BONSU. He is older than Dr. Bawumia. He doesn’t come across as having the support of the chiefs of Asanteman and the young people in the Region. Even more worrying for him is that he is not influential even in his own parliamentary constituency as evidenced by recent protests by the youth against his tenure coupled with the fact that he could only deliver 56% of his own constituency delegates to Dr. Bawumia in the presidential primaries. The consensus verdict on him is that, while he is a good vice presidential material, he may not be able to galvanise the needed numbers in Ashanti Region to help the NPP break the eight.
Next, APOSTLE OPOKU ONYINAH. He is not a politician. He has absolutely no connection with the party’s base, and may not be able to mobilize the grassroots to work hard for the needed numbers. The only reason why his name has come up is that he is a clergyman, a former chairman of the Church of Pentocost. This is because he is neither a technocrat properly so called nor a politician which are the two primary considerations.
And so, if he is selected, then it would only suggest that Dr. Bawumia and the NPP are introducing RELIGION in our body politics, something everybody has condemned because of the great danger religious politics portends to the peace and stability of this country. It is also noteworthy that Rev Onyinah’s involvement in the murky National Cathedral saga as Board Chairman cannot be overlooked by Ghanaian voters.
Next, HON. JOE OSEI OWUSU. A seasoned politician, and has what it takes to complement the ticket, except that, when compared with some of the other leading contenders, he may fall short in terms of having what it takes to maximize the support of Asanteman for the NPP. The chiefs and people of the Kingdom have relatively little connection with him.
He connects more with his constituency, Bekwai, and not the entirety of the Region. Even with that, he only delivered 71% of his own constituency delegates to Dr. Bawumia in the presidential primaries whereas others did much more. He is also older than the flag bearer, and most possibly, not as resourceful as some of the other contenders. Again, like Alan Kyerematen, Hon. Joe Osei Owusu’s past record of quitting/resigning from the NPP and contesting as Independent Parliamentary Candidate cannot also be forgotten. The Party must not be seen to be rewarding such gesture.
Next, HON. JOHN KUMAH. A nice gentleman with great potential. He is a much younger person, only serving his FIRST TERM in Parliament, and has ‘limited political experience’ compared to the heavyweights contending for the slot. He is a rising star and may need to focus on his political craft in the interim and grow in the politics. He also does not have the support of the chiefs of Asanteman including his own chiefs. He may therefore not be able to do much to maximize the Party’s votes in the Region.
Next, DR. BEN ASANTE. The latest to join to fray. He is not your career politician, and has not held any political position in his life. Dr. Asante only became popular in the political circles when he was appointed as CEO of Ghana Gas. He has little connection with the party’s base. No wonder he only managed to secure a paltry 54% of his own constituency delegates for Dr. Bawumia in the presidential primaries.
Charity, they say, begins at home. Ben Asante is not popular even in his constituency, Asokwa, a seat he’s been targeting to contest as Parliamentary Candidate. He should probably focus on improving his political popularity in his own constituency, and possibly, contest in the party’s upcoming parliamentary primaries to succeed the outgoing MP, Hon. Patricia Appiagyei, who is not seeking re-election.
Ben Asante, as well all know, is a technocrat. Unfortunately for him, the NPP presidential ticket already has a consummate technocrat in the person of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and, therefore, will not need another technocrat to complete or balance the ticket. What is needed by the NPP to complete or balance the party’s presidential ticket is a career politician.
In fact, the NPP has a long standing tradition of always pairing a career politician with a technocrat on its presidential ticket. President Kufuor, being a career politician, didn’t need another politician to complete his presidential ticket. That was why he went for H.E Aliu Mahama of blessed memory. President Akufo-Addo, being a career politician, didn’t need another politician to complete his presidential ticket. That was why he went for Dr. Bawumia. And so, Dr. Bawumia, not being a career politician but rather a technocrat, will certainly need to pair with a career politician to complete and balance the ticket. This is no rocket science.
Next, HON. YAW ADU TWUM, just like Ben Asante, is also a technocrat, except, of course, the fact that he is a serving two-term MP. And so, the immediate preceding paragraph applies to him as well. Not only that, he could also only manage to secure 60% of his own constituency delegates for Dr. Bawumia in the presidential primaries, which is even less than the national percentage garnered by the flag bearer. He is also perceived as not being resourceful like the others.
In terms of his performance in government as Education Minister, concerns have been raised about his inability to meet and sustain the standard set by his predecessor particularly on the Free SHS implementation and ensuring industrial harmony in the education sector. More significantly, Hon. Yaw Adu Twum does not come across as enjoying the unalloyed support of the chiefs and people of Asanteman, and therefore, may not be able to maximize the NPP’s votes in the Region.
Next, HON. DR. MATTHEW OPOKU PREMPEH (a.k.a Napo). He is a distinguished career politician. As noted by the venerable Sheikh Mustapha Abdul Hamid in his recent interview on JoyNews: “He [Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh] is a POLITICAL COLOSSUS in our tradition… He knows the Party. He knows the philosophies and principles of our Party”. The Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and former Spokesperson of President Akufo-Addo proceeded to endorse Napo as the most qualified person for the Running Mate position who would give the NPP the most political capital because of the overwhelming support he enjoys from young people.
Napo, indeed, has an infectious connection with the Party’s rank and file. He is arguably the most popular politician in the Ashanti Region today. He enjoys overwhelming support from Asanteman including the Manhyia Palace, the very heart and soul of the Ashanti Kingdom. Of course, Napo also enjoys the support of former President Kufuor, and on this, I say, the selection of Napo as Running Mate will secure the support of ‘disgruntled Kufuor loyalists’ who otherwise may be tempted to vote for Alan Kyerematen because of his close association with the former President.
Running a political campaign for the presidency of Ghana is extremely expensive, thus, requiring individuals who are very resourceful and are willing to invest their resources on such expensive projects. Without a doubt, among the leading names, Napo tops all on this score. He also tops all the leading contenders in terms of delivering the highest percentage of his constituency delegates, (over 88.5%) for Dr. Bawumia in the presidential primaries. Politics is about numbers, and that is exactly what Napo brings to the table to help the Party break the eight.
On the issue of competence, Napo’s record is equally unmatched. He is the most decorated Minister of State, sweeping all Awards in which he has been nominated, thereby establishing himself as the undisputed BEST PERFORMING MINISTER. As Education Minister, Napo spearheaded the successful implementation of arguably, the greatest legacy of the Akufo Addo government and indeed, the greatest social intervention programme of any government in Ghana since independence.
I am talking about the award winning Free SHS, which has, thus far, secured the future of over 2 million young people [Ghanaians], who would otherwise have been out of school. He is also the only Education Minister, whose tenure did not witness industrial unrests by teachers and other educational workers. It takes competence to achieve this.
Napo, as Energy Minister, worked very hard to KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, even during the times of unprecedented global economic crisis when every sector of the economy was virtually in “darkness”, gasping for breath. As aptly captured by Joy fm’s Head of Political Desk, Evans Mensah:
“The deepest economic crisis since the ’80s, but the lights are on ….In the whole Cabinet, Dr. Prempeh [Napo] must be applauded the most because of what he has been able to do”.
Napo indeed ensured that the nation did not return to ‘dumsor’. He kept the lights on, and kept the nation moving. This is the core foundation of the Napo story, a story of competence and proven track record.
To conclude, it is my submission that, based on the foregoing analysis, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (a.k.a Napo), IS THE MOST SUITABLE CANDIDATE for the position of NPP Running Mate. Beyond his political astuteness and competence, his selection as Running Mate to partner Dr. Bawumia will also be consistent with the NPP’s uncompromising tradition and time-tested convention of always presenting a career politician alongside a technocrat on its presidential ticket.
The Party cannot afford to get it wrong as we build up to the crucial elections of 2024, which is a must-win for the NPP. The facts speak for themselves. From all indications, HON. DR. MATTHEW OPOKU PREMPEH is certainly the RIGHT MAN for the job.