Countdown to ‘Showdown 2024’
A serious election contest is not a children’s ice cream party.
Tempers erupt, harsh words get thrown about and invectives get lobbed around, especially by the followers of the leading candidates.
That is the nature of politics, and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as a political party is no different, as its just-ended presidential primaries proved.
When the dust settled on Saturday, there was both a predictable outcome and a surprise.
As had been expected by many, the Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, won.
He bagged 61.47 per cent of the valid votes cast, chalking two important firsts in the NPP’s history as the first flagbearer from northern Ghana and the first Moslem to occupy that position.
What surprised many was the spirited performance of Kennedy Agyapong, the maverick Assin Central legislator who delivered a rather colourful campaign and introduced the word ‘showdown’ as part of our electoral lexicon.
With 37.41 per cent of the valid votes cast, winning the Central and Volta Regions and coming a strong second in Greater Accra, I expect, as do many, that he will have a considerable role in the prosecution of the party’s 2024 Election campaign.
He has clearly earned his stripes as a formidable politician with a sound base in the party.
Unlike some watchers, I do not believe the hearty smiles and warm exchanges between Dr Bawumia and Agyapong on the podium during the formal declaration were just for the cameras.
Their body language, in my view, did not reveal any hard feelings and I believe they have a good personal chemistry.
But this is not to underestimate the bile that has flowed during the campaign and the amount of healing that has to be done within the NPP’s political firmament, especially regarding the rank and file.
It requires delicate skill and tenacity.
Almost as soon as the results became clear, the issue of who would be selected as running mate to Dr Bawumia popped up yet again on various social media platforms.
Personally, with the election of the flagbearer, I would love to see this matter laid to rest sometime soon for two prime reasons.
First, it frees the flagbearer, and ultimately the party, from the distraction associated with the intense lobbying and jockeying by all manner of interests, when the focus should be on the task ahead.
Secondly, with the running mate in place, it becomes easier to implement a pronged approach to the campaign so that they can hit the ground running.
As some would put it, ‘time no dey’.
But then, with the parliamentary primaries to prosecute, this issue may sit on the back burner for a little while.
When the time comes, I am confident that a person who compliments the flag bearer on several fronts, who is firm, works hard and gets things done, and who enjoys good chemistry with him will be selected.
Some have tried valiantly to downplay Dr Bawumia’s win, claiming that with the establishment machinery behind him, he should have won over 70 per cent of the votes, especially since some in the NPP had made that bold prediction.
They even call his win a pyrrhic victory!
Especially concerning my National Democratic Congress (NDC) friends, I find these claims rather amusing, given that former President Mahama, with incumbency advantage and as the sole candidate, won the party’s 2015 primaries with 95.10 per cent of the vote, only to go on to lose the 2016 elections with 44.53 per cent of the valid votes cast.
However, you cut or slice it, the stubborn fact is that Dr Bawumia won 14 out of the 16 regions.
He swept the five northern regions.
Significantly, he won the Ashanti Region, the NPP’s ‘World Bank’, with about 65 per cent of the votes, as well as the Eastern, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions.
With the pervasiveness of identity politics in this country, this is commendable, given he is not Akan.
Significantly, he is also of a minority religious faith.
This is his first jab at this position and he gave it his all in his campaign.
Some claim that Agyapong’s showing indicates that Dr Bawumia has lost the grassroots.
This is just risible.
After the super delegates conference in August, we were told ad nauseam by some that the 926 super delegates were the elites of the party and did not represent the party.
They sneered that these super delegates had been arm-twisted, whipped and bribed by the establishment to give victory to Dr Bawumia.
The real deal, we were told, would take place on November 4, when the grassroots, represented by over 200,000 delegates, would speak with a resounding voice.
Well, guess what?
They did, and they gave Dr Bawumia 61.47 per cent of their vote.
Now let the countdown to the 2024 showdown begin.
Head, Communications & Public Affairs Unit,
Ministry of Energy.