Coach Otto Addo with Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
Coach Otto Addo with Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

Dr Bawumia and the Ashanti factor

For the second week running, fate decided to give me a raw deal by planting me on the opposite end of where the exciting action was.


First, as I indicated on this page last week, I had to be in Kumasi, whilst the Asantehene was in Accra.

Then last week, in a sharp reversal, I had to remain stuck at the office in Accra, whilst Vice-President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia toured my home region, Ashanti, which is also the New Patriotic Party (NPP’s) stronghold.


Of course, among others, I would have loved to be in my beloved Opoku Ware School when Dr Bawumia turned up to launch the first SMART classroom block in any senior high school (SHS) in the country and also distribute laptops to the students in fulfilment of government’s ‘One Student, One Laptop’ initiative. But there was some important work to do in the office.

So, like many others, I simply monitored social media platforms to keep track. I was particularly amused by the rather acidic and acerbic reactions of some people to the images and video clips of crowds that surged forward to welcome Dr Bawumia.

The reactions included outright scurrilous abuse of Ashantis as an ethnic group for turning out to support the NPP in spite of the economic challenges of the country. Some felt acute pain that Kennedy Agyapong had joined Dr Bawumia to campaign, which was a huge boost to the flagbearer’s campaign.

Others were not impressed and swore that the crowds had been rented to give an illusion of popular support. They insisted that in any event, many of them were not even registered voters and therefore the numbers were no indication of the NPP’s popularity in the region.

Some also claimed that for a stronghold, these crowds were nothing to get excited about anyway.

Political realities

Whilst I found the abuse in particular amusing because of the spike in the complainants’ blood pressure, I was tickled by the implied expectation on their part that the streets in the NPP’s stronghold would be deserted when Dr Bawumia rolled into town.

Maybe the vitriolic attacks masked a certain expectation that the region would ignore Dr Bawumia because he is not Akan – propaganda that had been running before he even declared his interest in becoming flagbearer.

If this was indeed the case then it betrayed a basic failure to grasp the nuances of the Ghanaian political topography, fueled by a certain naivete bordering on outright shocking ignorance.

Whilst some regions and constituencies have swung from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to NPP and vice versa since 1992, others have remained rock solid for either party.

This is not much different from what prevails even in more advanced democracies. The prospect of snow falling in the Sahara Desert is more achievable than NPP winning Ketu South or NDC winning Bantama, for instance. This is unshakeable political reality and pigs will fly before these dynamics change.

Maybe the insults betrayed a morbid fear that if the crowds are anything to go by and it translates into a high voter turnout in Ashanti, it will wipe out wins by the NDC in several other regions and spell victory for the NPP because of the sheer voter population numbers in the party’s ‘World Bank’.

If this is indeed the case, then for the sake of that victory, I would happily forgive, tolerate and perhaps even soak up the abuse. 

Crowd psychology

Talking of crowds, it will take a very naïve political strategist of any party to crack open a bottle of cold beer, take a long swig, belch satisfactorily at crowd numbers on television and then go to sleep with a smile on his or her face.

Of course, all sorts of people join all political marches for several reasons and it is true that quite a sizeable number may not even have a vote.

After all, in 2012 the NPP crowds at its final rally at the Efua Sutherland Park in Accra was bursting at the seams, and yet the party lost. In 2016 the NDC filled the Accra Sports Stadium and yet went on to lose the election.  

So, in a sense, I agree with those NDC supporters who snorted at the crowd numbers in Ashanti. I just hope they equally snort at the large crowds in Ho when Mr. John Mahama turns up there to campaign.

But it is also unwise to ignore the huge psychological boost that party faithful get from being part of or watching images of crowds surge forward during rallies or marches, stronghold or not. That cannot be downplayed in terms of motivation for party workers and supporters, in spite of the huge amount of work that the parties must do to win.


No certainty

As I keep telling my NDC friends who enjoy taking a comfortable lead in predicting confidently that the NDC will sweep this year’s election, both major parties have a lot of work to do in the months ahead and the outcome is not set in stone.

Complacency is not on the menu for either party. I was certainly pleased with what I saw on television and on social media last week. But I also acknowledge the long, hard road that lies ahead. 

Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng,
Head, Communications & Public Affairs Unit,
Ministry of Energy.
E-mail: [email protected]

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