Feature:  Leave Bawumia Alone: Only Fools Dive In

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana mandates the presidential candidate to choose their running mate for the vice presidency and there is no time limit before the December elections.The selection of running mates for presidential candidates is traditionally based on electoral considerations, often to provide geographic, demographic, or ideological “ticket balancing.”

It appears that John Mahama had no trouble selecting his running mate. He chose an older woman who he believes will not cause him problems and would help him govern peacefully without constantly keeping an eye on him.

The most anticipated nomination is from Mahamudu Bawumia of the NPP. It seems Ghanaians are very anxious to see whom he picks. One of the few outstanding questions is whom he might pick as a running mate, and when. However, it seems he is being stampeded into choosing his running mate by hypocrites, self-serving individuals, and lobbyists who serve no particular interests but their selfish interests and laughable reasons.

Bawumia has several options ahead of him. He is familiar with this role, so he wants to approach it on his own terms. Despite what some narrow-minded individuals may believe, not selecting his running mate at this point does not indicate that he is unfit to lead or that he is afraid. In reality, he is being cautious and strategic.

Even in the most advanced countries, running mates are not chosen until July or August. It is unwise to rush into such important decisions. As Ghanaians and his party wait for his running mate, Mahamadu Bawumia needs to keep one question foremost in his mind, because the decision could affect us all for years to come. He needs to ask: Will this person be good for the Ghanaian comedy?

Bawumia has his needs, and ambitious NPP politicians have theirs.There is no shortage of young ambitious aspirants lobbying with everything they have. But caution is needed — and for good reason. Sometimes, as with Kufour and AliuMahama, John Mahama, and Amissah Arthur, these marriages of convenience (the relationship between president and vice president) work. But some do not work as with Rawlings and Arkaah.

What follows is a list of questions from our perspective:

Would the vice president be 100 percent loyal in a crisis?

Will the vice president try to outshine the president in the media?

Will the running mate always put the president first or focus on positioning himself to be president?

How well would he defend the president in the news?

Does the candidate enhance the chances of winning?

Is this candidate qualified to be president and carry forth the president’s agenda?

The answers to these questions may be tricky, so all the individuals lobbying frantically should be carefully examined. A vice president could be a useless nonentity, a continual annoyance, or a great help.

All presidents choose their vice presidents to ‘balance’ the ticket in the eyes of voters.Running mates do not have actual political power except the one granted by the Constitution or the President. However, given the vice president’s limited constitutional powers, and the remote possibility of presidential succession, it would be wrong to ridicule the office of the vice-president.

The first and most important criterion is any candidate should have the requisite qualifications of a president, including the ability to step up at a moment’s notice to be the president when the need arises. This means the person chosen should have the ability and be prepared to govern if something happens to the president.

The second is chemistry. The main objective of picking a running mate is to find someone who may complement the presidential nominee. But above all, the person should do no harm.The president should choose a candidate who he can work with amicably. The need for compatibility cannot be brushed aside.

For the avoidance of doubt, Vice-presidential selections do not tend to have much electoral impact. Still,the choice normally reveals what the incomingpresident thinks it might take to beat the opposition party. A disagreeable pair can doom a candidate and make the administration dysfunctional. We remember Rawlings and Arkaah.

Thirdly, there should be political balance. The balance in question could be geographic—a northern presidential candidate like John Mahama and Bawumia would pick a Southerner – Brong, Ahafo, Volta, Ashanti, Central, or the Western Regions.

He might try to balance out the ticket, and blunt his difficulties with religion by choosing a Christian female or male living with disability, which would be a handy rejoinder whenever anyone points out he is a religious bigot who does not like women in higher office.

He might also make a similar electoral calculation and select a younger person, which would appeal to the youth. He could try to unite the party and neutralise younger rivals by choosing a more established older candidate. Or, in the case of Bawumia, maybe, annoyed by certain elements in the Akufo-Addo regime,he would try to fortify his own strengths by choosing a completely older person who would let him alone.

All too often the dynamic between the president and vice president ran the range from cold and distantly cordial to outright hostile. The result is a vice president would be cut out of the action, relegated to trivial duties, or dispatched to attend funerals locally or abroad.

Fourth, intimidation. The silent majority are very much concerned about Bawumia and who he picks as his running mate. So cancel our suggestion. But Bawumia should also ignore the advice from those who think he can significantly improve his electoral performance if he selects someone who satisfies the Ashanti wing or appeals to women.

Vice presidential candidates, as already said, though commonly thought to be politically important, rarely make a discernible difference.Having an unpopular, arrogant person on the ticket might hurt him. Bawumia should select someone who appeals not only to NPP voters but also to those that make the difference between winning and losing campaigns—presumably, floating voters.

Fifth, loyalty. Bawumia should not be interested in a junior partner or co-president; he wants someone to have his back in all situations. Picking a proven loyalist without serious political ambitions might give him a sense of security and support and ease any paranoia he would have about a running mate trying to overtake him.

Sixth, experience. A vice president should have some years of national-level experience, including substantial knowledge of the country and the ability to unite the NPP. A vice president should bring to their tickets deep experience in governing and a recognition on the part of the presidential candidate that the person he chooses has an experience needed. One of the gravest threats in choosing a compatible vice president is the perilous rise of narcissism among young politicians in Ghana, especially, leading to the fracturing of the NPP.

The disgruntled old base of the party has long gritted its teeth and gone along with the ‘us youth generation’ taking over the party. Many of the old members see the poor showing in 2020 as an indication that it is time to change the internal dynamics and fight the burgeoning, perpetual expansion of poisonous self-adulation creeping into every corner of Ghanaian and NPP politics and way of life. Bawumia needs to unify and motivate members of the NPP, and to do this, he had to placate older and disgruntled members of his party.

Bawumia needs to be cautious of individuals who are overly fond of attention and the spotlight. The individual he selects should remain loyal to him, even if it means they are sycophants. If potential vice presidents are too assertive in seeking the position, it suggests they have their own personal agenda.

MahamuduBawumiacan be weak or daring in his decision. It does not really matter, as long as he, himself, is good.

By Kwadwo Afari


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here