Bawumia’s running mate choice: The seasoned, stolid and serious Dr Opoku Prempeh
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Bawumia’s running mate choice: The seasoned, stolid and serious Dr Opoku Prempeh

Vice-President and flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, couldn't have named a better choice for running mate than Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh.

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Biographically, politically, geographically, complimentarily, managerially and historically Dr Bawumia has chosen a Vice-Presidential candidate who satisfies both electoral and governing dynamics.

Dr Opoku Prempeh presents Dr Bawumia with intersectional balance: geography, religion, ethnicity and regionally. In an era where diversity and unity are cherished ideals for national cohesion, a ticket of such considerable balance offers not just inter-sectional harmony but substantial electoral advantages.

Dr Opoku Prempeh will present Dr Bawumia with a dogged, experienced, self-assured, tireless, competent, no-nonsense doer with a direct, brash yet fabled operational ability to get tasks accomplished.

The fact that he is well grounded in the political tradition of the party and well-connected to the grass roots enables the candidate to not just solidify but rouse the base. His national credentials are substantial.

On a national level, Dr Opoku Prempeh wields one of the greatest qualities necessary for the VPship: readiness to be president. In both conventional vice-presidential scholarship and practical terms, the Vice-President must be seen as someone ready to act as president when the president travels or is absent.

NAPO, as he’s popularly called, has extensive experience within Ghana’s political, legislative, ministerial and executive landscape to step up in a moment’s notice. He therefore crosses the first and hugely significant measure: the presidential bar. 

Credentials

The verdict on NAPO is clear: bullish but folksy; resolute yet warm; no-nonsense serious-minded yet generous. In Ghana, he has been adjudged Minister of the year by the well-established Ghana Ministers of State Excellence awards.

The verdict may still be out there on the FREE SHS programme and there’s no doubt that every policy will need renewal but there’s no denying NAPO’s place in history as the Minister responsible for the successful implementation of the most consequential and grandiloquent policy decision not just in Ghana’s educational sector but in the nation’s contemporary history.

As education minister, his zealousness and can-do attitude enabled the government to successfully implement its banner head legislation, free senior high school education. Today, thanks to this flagship programme, enrolment has leaped to a record-breaking figure of 1.2 million (up from about 800,000) providing teeming young people, so many of whom would have fallen through the cracks, an educational lifeline and a chance at life, no matter how challenging. 

His tenure at the ministry demonstrated his leadership capabilities leading the ministry to implement several curriculum reforms, teacher-based initiatives and moving vocational education to the forefront of the educational system.

 It is also a thing of legion that NAPO’s effective stakeholder engagement helped in the smooth running of the ministry leading to muted strikes and kerfuffle. His zeal and sense of single-minded focus may rub off some the wrong way, but in-depth interviews and available research demonstrate his geniality, generosity, empathy and popularity among the party rank and file.

The energy ministry continues to remain a challenging one but we can all largely agree that he’s maintained a stolid and dependable leadership at the Ministry for His Excellency the President of the Republic. 

He is named sixth out of 100 inspiring individuals in Africa by the African Regional Journal in a list that includes the globally respected Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweaka, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Prof. P.L.O Lumumba and emerging leaders such as President Andy Rajoelina, one of Africa’s youngest presidents. He also has a long legislative experience as the Member of Parliament for Manhyia South which should help in serving as a useful link between the people’s representatives and the executive arm.

On the whole Dr Prempeh has a good understanding of Ghana’s political landscape, problems and challenges. Dr Opoku Prempeh will undoubtedly offer the flag bearer, party and nation strong leadership; something that aligns with Bawumia’s persona as a transformative, bold, courageous and forward-thinking leader.

As someone who has been a consequential Vice-President himself, and remains an exemplar of revolutionising the very institution of the vice-presidency, no one is better placed to make this choice than Dr Bawumia.

He has chosen a man of substance with the credentials, governing ability, political skills, energy, policy chops, gravitas and can-do mindset to complement the flag bearer on what has been christened a journey of possibilities.

The writer is a Senior Lecturer in journalism and communication, Ghana Institute of Journalism

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