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The meteoric rise of Vice-President Bawumia from political novice to national asset

BY: Chris Nunoo
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is from a family that is deeply rooted in politics from the independence era, but not many people knew him as such, apart from being a technocrat with impeccable credentials in economics.

His late father, Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia, was once the Northern Regional Minister in the Nkrumah government.

Alhaji Bawumia was also a Chairman of the Council of State during the administration of the late President J.J. Rawlings in the 1990s.

Lobbying

The second term of President John Agyekum Kufuor and the late Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, had almost ended and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had just won the presidential primary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) against 16 other stalwarts of the party to contest the 2008 elections as the flagbearer of the NPP.

Then came the lobbying for the position of running mate of the NPP presidential candidate, with names such as Mr Alan John Kyerematen, Hajia Alima Mahama, Mrs Gifty Affenyi-Dadzie and Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface emerging as frontliners.

But unknown to the majority of the party’s followers, Nana Akufo-Addo had other ideas.

Surprise

The political campaigning at the time was in full gear and ultimately the search for a running mate settled on Dr Bawumia, who had returned to Ghana in 2000 to work as an economist at the Bank of Ghana (BoG), where he rose from being a Senior Economist to become a Head of Department and subsequently Special Assistant to the then Governor of the bank, Dr Paul Acquah.

President Kufuor later appointed Dr Bawumia as the First Deputy Governor of the BoG in June 2006, a position he occupied until he became the running mate of Nana Akufo-Addo.

He was formally introduced on Sunday, August 17, 2008 by Nana Akufo-Addo, who raised Dr Bawumia’s hand at the 16th delegates conference of the NPP in Sekondi, after the latter had been nominated and endorsed at a meeting on Thursday, August 14, 2008 by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party.

The surprise nomination of Dr Bawumia sent many tongues wagging within the political fraternity and the country at large, with political analysts immediately writing off the chances of the NPP in the upcoming elections, although candidate Akufo-Addo had described the pair as a “winning team”.

Outdooring

Since his emergence onto the political scene, Dr Bawumia, who was then described as a “greenhorn” in politics, has never looked back. The knowledgeable and intelligent young economist and banker has, from humble beginnings, developed himself by learning the rudiments of politics and succeeded in building his own capacity to become a mature politician who is now a force to reckon with within the NPP and the political space in general.

The Nana Akufo-Addo/Dr Bawumia team had its first shot at the Presidency in the 2008 elections, in which they gave the NDC, led by the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills, and his running mate Mr John Dramani Mahama, a run for their money.

In that presidential election, Nana Akufo-Addo polled 4,159,439, as against Prof. Mills’s 4,056,634, in the first round, but that fell short of the required more than 50 per cent votes to win a first-round victory. That led to a run-off in the presidential election, which Prof. Mills won with 4,521,032 votes, with Nana Akufo-Addo obtaining 4,480,446.

The results, perhaps, provided enough testimony for Nana Akufo-Addo to repose confidence in Dr Bawumia, for which reason he picked Dr Bawumia for the second time for the 2012 elections, which the NPP again lost.

Election petition

The outcome of the 2012 elections led to the NPP raising some concerns about electoral breaches, which compelled the party to petition the Supreme Court for redress.

It was during the hearing of the petition that Dr Bawumia’s worth as a major human resource for the NPP manifested. He excelled as a witness in the box and won a lot of admirers, although the party lost the case.

Nana Akufo-Addo persevered in his quest to become President, and for the third time, got the nod from the NPP to become the presidential candidate. Again, he decided to choose Dr Bawumia, who, by then, was showing glimpses of an out and out political actor. He was arguably a thorn in the flesh of the NDC and its flagbearer, President Mahama, and gave them ‘a hell of a time’.

His main arsenal was the economic lecturers he delivered, mainly from the Central Univesity campus at Miotso, near Prampram in the Greater Accra Region under the school’s Distinguished Speaker Series in 2014.

It was at one of those lectures, which attacked the then government’s credentials on the economy, that he said: “if the fundamentals are weak, the exchange rate will expose you”.

The elections of 2016, like the previous one, were keenly contested and the NPP won with a margin never imagined by pundits.

Role of Bawumia

From that time, Dr Bawumia has never looked back, providing President Akufo-Addo incredible support to deliver quality leadership.

This unflinching support for his boss has endeared Dr Bawumia to the Zongo community across the country, especially after working to ensure that the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Development was established.

Dr Bawumia’s complementary efforts also led to the creation of the Zongo Development Fund, which is geared towards the massive infrastructural development of the Zongo communities in the country.

The Vice-President has, within the last four years, spearheaded government policies aimed at modernising and formalising the economy, notable among them being the interoperability of mobile money transactions, the introduction of paperless operations at the port, the e-business registration system, as well as access to digital financial services.

He was also instrumental in the issuance of the national identification cards, with the NIA so far registering about 16 million Ghanaians. 

The national digital property addressing system and the use of drones for medical supplies are both programmes and projects under the current government being pushed with support from Dr Bawumia.

Northern politics

The man who attended the Sakasaka Primary School in Tamale, before being admitted to the Tamale Secondary School in 1975, has matured from being a political novice into a political asset for the ruling NPP.

This manifested in the exploits of the party in the just-ended elections, in which the NPP won in the North East Region, as well as the impact it made in the Northern and the Savannah regions.

In the past, the NPP found it very difficult to find a place in the politics of northern Ghana, but the emergence of Dr Bawumia has completely changed the dynamics.

From an overwhelming dominance in the regions of the north, the NPP and NDC now have nine seats apiece in the Northern Region.

In the North East Region, the NPP now holds five parliamentary seats as against the three out of six it held in the previous election.

In the Savanna Region, which was also carved out of the Northern Region as well as the North East Region, the NPP now holds three out of the seven seats, up from the one it held in the previous election.

Education

Born on October 7, 1963, Dr Bawumia studied banking and obtained the Chartered Institute of Bankers Diploma (ACIB). He also obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Economics at the Buckingham University in 1987 and went on to obtain a master's degree in Economics at the Lincoln College, Oxford, and a PhD in Economics at the Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1995.

His areas of specialisation include Macroeconomics, International Economics, Development Economics and Monetary Policy.