Globally, Vice Presidents do not play the camera role and are relatively quiet and unheard of in most governments, despite the pivotal roles they play in governance, and Ghana has not been an exception.
In the United States of America, the Vice President is the President of Senate and presides over senate deliberations. The Vice President also presides over joint sessions of congress and is a statutory member of the National Security Council.
As one in many case examples, the role of a Vice President is simply inexcusable. The Vice President is an integral part of any government and is mandated to act when the President is absent or dies in government. The choice of a running mate to become a Vice President always poses as a difficult one and one that must be carefully thought through with experienced and knowledgeable brains.
The Republic of Ghana, however, has had a rich assemblage of former Vice Presidents from the very first occupant of the noble office. We have seen Mr Joseph W.S de-Graft Johnson of the Limann administration(1979-1981), Mr. Kow Nkensen Arkaah of the first half of the Rawlings administration(1993-1997), Prof John Evans Atta Mills who later became President completed the second half with J J Rawlings as President.
Alhaji Aliu Mahama ably supported president J A Kufuor from 2001 to 2008, John Mahama was Vice President to Prof Mills from 2009-2012, and Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur was vice to John Mahama from 2013-2017.
However, the choice of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia as running mate in 2008 by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was not very much anticipated by political pundits and people in his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP). But zooming into his background, work experience and achievements, he may even have been the best of choices.
Dr Bawumia began active work in Ghana in 2000 when he started work as an economist at the Bank of Ghana. He rose through the ranks from Senior Economist to Head of Department and subsequently as Special Assistant to the Governor.
Later on, he was appointed as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana in June 2006. But before he came to Ghana, he had been through a rich academic experience in the United Kingdom and the United States of America as a student and later a lecturer in Economics who rose through the ranks to receive many awards including the Young Researcher Award in 1998 and Who is Who Among America’s Teachers in 1999.
Despite his entry into politics in 2008, Dr Bawumia was shot into prominence in 2013 in the proceedings of the historic election petition where he won admiration from a lot of Ghanaians through the way and manner he presented the case of the NPP with facts and figures. His presentations brought to light many unknown facets of our electoral system, the voter’s register and the coalition of votes. His frequent reference to the pink sheet caused its name to be rebranded as Bawumia’s pink sheet.
Political analysts and researchers say that his sterling performance in the Election petition went a long way to rebrand and refine the NPP’s ticket in the 2016 elections because it was portrayed that the NPP had a better, more profound and clearer understanding of election issues and the coalition of votes.
In the run-up to the 2016 elections, Dr Bawumia bounced back stronger and subjected the NDC government’s performance to strict scrutiny with his shrewd acumen. He organized a lecture series called “The True State of the Economy” and usually made these presentations shortly after State of the Nation Addresses and budget statements.
Arguably, his constructive and meticulously articulated criticisms became unavoidable in the political space and were, to an extent irresistible and difficult to defend by officials of the NDC government. He consistently proposed realistic and practical economic alternatives that resonated with the majority of Ghanaians and gave the NPP campaign tremendous latitude to punch holes in the government structure.
One of the things that cannot be forgotten is how he summoned the courage to challenge the Electoral Commission that some names in our voter’s register and that of Togo were the same; to suggest that our voter’s register had been penetrated and jeopardized. This significant step created massive awareness about the weak voter register we had and gave the NPP more leverage to advise Ghanaians to be extra vigilant and watchful on the election day at their polling stations.
Dr Bawumia became a key player in the NPP 2016 campaign not only because of his constructive criticisms but because of his unique campaign promises and how he jabbed the NDC in the heated political atmosphere. He introduced the word “incompetent” in our political space, and it was always a major blow for the Mahama-led NDC when they were described as incompetent by Dr Bawumia and the NPP.
Fast forward into governance, Dr Bawumia may go down in history as the most visible Vice President the nation has experienced. His vision of transforming the economy through digitization and other avenues is gaining international recognition. As chair of the country’s economic management team, the economic transformation we experience inevitably contains components of his knowledge and experience.
His frequent engagements with the people through Town Hall meetings and press conferences keeps him in touch with the population and his name always on the ordinary Ghanaian’s lip. Dr Bawumia seems to always present his issues with facts, figures and accurate data, and this sends a good signal to Ghanaians about the NPP government.
He poses as a threat to the opposition because whenever he engages the media or comments on issues, they find it difficult to counter his claims in accuracy. This strong side of his is making many political thinkers predict that Dr Bawumia will be the star of the NPP’s campaign this year.
But the bigger question many are posing is that after 2020, what next for Bawumia? Many Ghanaians believe he will be the best choice for the NPP in 2024 for the Presidential ticket because he has developed a strong and healthy relationship with the people of Ghana and his name has resonated enough.
But until 2024, it cannot be accurately predicted whether he will remain in politics or recline into solitude to treat matters of personal significance.
The question remains: After 2020, what next for Bawumia?