HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAWUMIA: The quintessential vice president who’s admired in silence by his critics

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Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

Today marks the 56th birthday anniversary of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the erudite Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.

This is the 3rd time Dr. Bawumia is celebrating his birthday as Vice President of the Republic, and his political journey so far, has been as glittering as his status as an astute economist prior to him becoming a politician.

From a political neophyte eleven years ago when he stunningly entered the hot political space of Ghana, Dr. Bawumia has metamorphosed into a quintessential politician, a reliable running mate, and an effective Vice President. In fact, Dr. Bawumia has become the yardstick for the selection of presidential running mate in our recent political history – a fact even his detractors concede.

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

But not everyone gave him a dog’s chance to be this politically shrewd. Indeed when then NPP candidate Nana Akufo-Addo stunned the nation by naming him his running mate in 2008 ahead of other more politically experienced individuals in NPP, many wrote the young economist off even before he mounted his first political podium. The biggest and loudest critics were some members of the NPP party, and they made intense attempts to justify their racous pessimism.

The pessimists thought the stakes were too high for the NPP in 2008 to name a political rookie as a running mate to a first-time Presidential aspirant, who was challenging a former Vice President (John Mills) with a former Minister and MP as his running mate (John Mahama)

But to the optimists, led by Nana Akufo-Addo himself, Dr. Bawumia represented a new breed, and a perfect youthful match to the late John Mills’ running mate, John Mahama.

Even though the NPP lost  the elections by the narrowest of margins ever in Ghana’s political history, Dr. Bawumia proved why he was selected with his energetic contributions to the NPP’s campaign.

In the next elections in 2012, Nana Akufo-Addo unsurprisingly Dr. Bawumia as his running mate, and he displayed same vigour throughout the 2012 campaign.

 When the NPP disputed the 2012 elections results and went to court, it marked the turning point of Dr. Bawumia’s status within the NPP and Ghana’s political arena. As a star witness for the petitioners at the Supreme Court, Dr. Bawumia’s brilliant presentations and analysis of the issues during court proceedings, which were broadcast live on national television, endeared him to many, especially members of his party who had doubted his political credentials. He was so brilliant and analytical in his submissions that he was widely nicknamed Dr. Pink Sheet, and the phrase “you and I were not there” became synonymous with him.

As Nana Akufo-Addo won a third nomination to lead his party for the 2016 elections, he again run with the man who had grown to become his most trusted political ally.

By 2016, Dr. Bawumia had undoubtedly become a political heavyweight who perfectly understood the nuances of political communication. Even though Nana Akufo-Addo was the main Presidential candidate, Dr. Bawumia became the fulcrum of the NPP’s well-oiled  campaign machinery.

Dr. Bawumia’s background as an astute economist, was his greatest arsenal, and he used it well to the admiration of members of his party, and to the chagrin of the then ruling NDC government.

Prior to the main election campaign, Dr. Bawumia used his well coordinated economic lecture series to expose the economic ills of the NDC Government and made remarkable economic predictions which became realities. The biggest of them was his prediction that NDC government would end up at the IMF for a bailout due to their economic mismanagement.

 Many political observers believe that Dr. Bawumia’s final economic lecture, delivered at the National Theatre in 2016, was the deadliest blow he inflicted on the NDC and President Mahama. It was at that lecture that he challenged the NDC and late Vice President Amissah Arthur to respond to the over 100 economic questions he posed. The unanswered questions, became the catalyst of the NPP’s campaign throughout the country. The NDC’s failure to answer the over 100  genuine econonic questions clearly portrayed them as having no answers to resolving the dwindling economic fortunes of the country. It was a indeed a deadly blow to the John Mahama-led NDC Government, which they never recovered from.

As the 2016 campaign peaked, Dr. Bawumia became deadlier and a sharper thorn in the flesh of President Mahama and the NDC. His breakdown of complicated economic issues to the simple understanding of the ordinary Ghanaian, further endeared him to many across the country.

And as a humble and respectful Muslim and Northerner, Dr. Bawumia understood the cultural and religious nuances of his people so he threatened the previously untouchable base of the NDC with his touching and sincere interactions in the North and the Zongos. The historic, sweeping votes the NPP recorded in both the North and Zongos across the country in 2016, was a clear testament to the Bawumia effect on the 2016 elections.

ERUDITE VICE PRESIDENT

Since becoming Vice President in 2017, Dr. Bawumia has undoubtedly become the most active Vice President in the history of the 4th Republic. His boss, President Akufo-Addo has so much confidence in him that he has entrusted many high-profile projects in the hands of the Vice President. Remarkablly, the Vice President has handled projects entrusted to him very well, alongside his role as head of the Government’s economic management team. Never in the history of Ghana, especially the 4th Republic, has a Vice President been so visible and prominent in government business.

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

The biggest credit to Dr. Bawumia is that despite being a very active Vice President and supervising multi-million dollar projects, he has never been implicated in any scandal. Considering the eagle-eye spotlight on him by the opposition NDC, this is a remarkable positive to himself and his boss, who takes pride in his incorruptibility as an individual. Dr. Bawumia’s critics, or more aptly, nemesis, have been looking for the slightest opportunity to indict him and leave an indelible dent on his impeccable integrity. But he has handled himself so well and proved that he is as incorruptible as his boss.

In spite of Dr. Bawumia’s credentials as an effective Vice President who performs his role with absolute commitment and sincerity, he has become the government’s main target of attacks and abuse by the opposition NDC. But their constant abuse of Dr. Bawumia is a political propaganda game which is understandable. The vintage economist was a sharp thorn in the flesh of the NDC when they were in government and they have never forgiven him for his role in their defeat. And in opposition, Vice President Bawumia has become a huge albatross around their neck, as he has continued to neutralise their propaganda effects.

Even as Dr. Bawumia focuses on ensuring sound economic management with his economic team, as well as executing other key assignments, he continues to play the equally important role of neutralising the NDC, even in opposition.

The Vice President has not only become an effective narrator of government’s policies and achievements on important platforms, he has also become the chief protector of government and his boss anytime former President Mahama strikes.

The missiles in Mahama’s political communication, without doubt, is targeted at his main competitor, President Akufo-Addo. But the Vice President has become so perfect in neutralising the effects of Mahama’s missiles targeted at Akufo-Addo. As loyal and committed as he is to President Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia always intervenes, wards off the attacks and respond appropriately to pile more pressure on former President Mahama and the NDC.

If President Akufo-Addo rarely responds directly to former President Mahama, it is because he knows very well that in Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, he has a loyal, committed and able Vice President who will always be there for him and the Government.

The NDC may publicly abuse Dr. Bawumia, but privately and deep down in their hearts, they admire him and admire his traits. Indeed as former President Mahama and the NDC search for a running mate in 2020, they would be glad if they got somebody in the calibre of Dr. Bawumia. If former President Mahama had someone as bold, brilliant, humble, loyal, clean and incorruptible as Dr. Bawumia is, he won’t hesitate for a minute to name him as his running mate.

For Dr. Bawumia’s nemesis, it is politically prudent for them to keep attacking him and constantly attempt to ridicule in order to neutralise his effect. But the more they try, the tougher he becomes, and the more frustrated they.

His opponents love to loathe him publicly. But privately, they are pained by his political prowess. They admire his qualities and he is the yardstick for measuring who should be their running mate.

President Akufo-Addo with Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
President Akufo-Addo with Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

It is apt to say that President Akufo-Addo has been vindicated. This is the Vice President he envisaged when he first named the young economist as his running mate eleven years ago.

Happy birthday Mr. Vice President. May Allah Almighty continue to guide and protect you as you serve our beloved country in your distinguish role as Vice President.

By: Issah Abdul-Rahman (a Ghanaian Student in the USA)

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