Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia– NPPs 2024 Flagbearer?
The super delegates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) convened on Saturday, August 26, 2023, across 17 voting centres nationwide and pruned the number of candidates vying for the flagbearer position from 10 to five.
Meanwhile, there is a runoff scheduled for September 2, 2023, between Boakye Agyarko and Francis Addai-Nimoh to determine who gets the fifth spot. The five will compete for the ultimate prize of flagbearer on November 4, 2023. Three of my picks –Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Alan Kyerematen and Kennedy Agyapong will feature.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of Dr Bawumia, the Vice-President, who won seven out of ten (68.15%) super delegate voters. Two questions emerged from the results – a) What informed the choice of the super delegates? and b) What signals are the super delegates sending to the larger electoral college who will vote on November 4 to pick the party’s flagbearer for the 2024 elections?
The super delegates are the ones who can say with any degree of certainty what informed their strong show of support for Dr Bawumia. In the lead-up to the vote, some of the super delegates, as well as supporters of the candidates, made known the reasons why they were supporting a particular candidate. The candidates also made a case for why the party needs to choose them as flag bearers for 2024. Putting it all together, observers like me can only make inferences as to what informed the decision of the super delegates.
First, political parties want to win elections. It is only by winning that they can form a government and implement their policies for national development. And because winning is critical, the key driving factor for the selection of a flag bearer is the candidate who presents the party with the best chance of winning an election. The overwhelming support for Dr Bawumia tells me that the super delegates believe he is the candidate best positioned to win them the 2024 elections.
In addition, the candidates themselves offered varying messages as they travelled across the country campaigning. They couched their messages in various slogans – it is possible; it is my turn; Ghana first and new dawn; among others. If vote share is the yardstick by which we measure how well a candidate’s message resonates with voters, then it is reasonable to conclude that
Dr Bawumia’s message of “it is possible” resonated the most with the super delegates. It represents a message of hope, especially at a time when the political winds are not blowing favourably in the direction of the NPP.
Lastly, it is my observation that political parties reward a combination of loyalty, hard work, commitment and investment in the party. Dr Bawumia may not have a long history with the party compared to some of the other candidates. However, there is no denying that over the years, he has built a constituency of strong support in the party. That strong constituency showed up massively for him in recognition and appreciation of what he has brought to the party. This is not to say that the other nine contestants have not made sacrifices or are not committed to the party in their own ways.
What Signals Are The Super Delegates Sending?
There are two potential answers to this question. If you are the winning candidate, in this case, Dr Bawumia, your camp is likely to argue that the super delegates are essentially saying this is the party’s candidate for the 2024 election. As a result, they expect the larger electoral college to vote on November 4 to endorse the signal from the super delegates.
If you are one of the remaining four whose share of the super delegates vote was one out of ten, your camp is likely to argue that the real contest is on November 4 when the larger electoral college of about 200,000 will vote.
This is the elite versus grassroots conversation I have been observing from the various camps of the candidates.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. The super delegates’ vote points to the fact that at least, among them, there is overwhelming support for Dr Bawumia’s candidacy. To have swept all 17
voting centres nationwide with a huge margin is a very loud and clear endorsement. The momentum going into November is, therefore, on his side.
But it is also true that there is a much larger electoral college waiting to have their say in November, who may not necessarily feel obliged to follow the lead of the super delegates.
We will have to wait to see which truth prevails. But I have consistently said I will be very surprised if Dr. Bawumia does not emerge as the NPP flag bearer for the 2024 elections.
The writer is a Democracy and Development Fellow, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana)