Can Ghanaians Trust Dr. Bawumia with His 'Counter-Nana Addo' Policies?

Feature Article Can Ghanaians Trust Dr. Bawumia with His 'Counter-Nana Addo' Policies?

Interesting! After he was elected as the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the vice-president, H.E Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia seems to take certain economic policy directions and position which are very counteractive to some of the policies the government is executing. This is coming as a surprise to many Ghanaians especially when he is the 2nd in command in the same government. An example is the issue with the E-levy which he promises to scrap when elected as the president. But is it that he is not aware his government is already taking the money from Ghanaians? But what is clear from this example is that he appreciates the negative impact the E-levy and other policies of the government have on the people. But Ghanaians want more than just talking about doing away with a policy when elected especially when you find yourself in government. It is a matter of if they can trust a veep to take a different direction when made the president.

Before we try to take a position on this question, let us look at some historical precedence of this situation which may not be exactly as Dr. Bawumia finds himself in.

In the fourth Republic of Ghana, there have been two instances where former vice presidents have become presidents. Both persons were members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Former President Prof. John Evans Atta Mills served as the vice president to Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings from the year 1997 to 2000. In the 2000 elections, the general feeling of the Ghanaian electorate was that voting for Prof. Mills who was the vice-president meant a vote for Rawlings to extend his rule from the 80`s. Ghanaians needed change. They needed something new. The Rawlings factor overshadowed the candidature of Prof Mils. Candidate Prof Mills could not have even dared to promise policies that were counteractive to the ones being pursued by then President Rawlings. But with time, he was able to wash away the Rawlings tag from himself which was one of the factors that led to his electoral victory in 2008. An example of his purging exercise was his bold decision to nominate John Mahama as his running mate for the 2008 elections and stick to that decision despite media reports that Former President Rawlings had his own choice. That boldness assured some voters that politically he has become 'his own man'. At least he also showed that when he became the president with his leadership style.

In the other instance but in the same party, and a continuation from where we ended in the previous paragraph, President John Mahama takes over from President Atta Mills as the president. This happened dramatically. It was not that Prof Mills was about to finish his two terms of office where Ghanaians would have to evaluate his governance and also test whether John Mahama (in the case of he being the flagbearer at the same time the veep) would have made some policy statements in his campaign that seemed different from that of the president. But we had the situation of the sad demise of Professor Mills where Vice President Mahama had to take over. Even with about four months to elections, the newly sworn-in President Mahama presented his policy statement and vision to the nation at a breakfast meeting. This came as a surprise to a section of Ghanaians who thought he would have just continued with what he was assisting his boss with. This clearly showed that even as a vice president he had his own vision and direction. This became profound when he was elected as the president in the 2012 elections. His restructuring of some ministries, people he appointed as ministers, his experiment with regional ministries, and his projects and policies did not present him as someone who did not know what he was doing. He was his own man. Which even extended to the control of his party. This even makes it difficult to find a direct link between the leadership styles of Professor Atta Mills and President Mahama.

Back to the Bawumia phenomenon. The election of the NPP to office in 2016 was partly due to the positioning of Bawumia as an economic superman for Ghanaians. His ability to communicate issues about the economy for the average Ghanaian to understand and even use his catchy lines like 'if the fundamentals are weak, the exchange rate will expose you' in debate and public discussions. Ghanaians were very sure that in the NPP government, Dr. Bawumia would be in charge of the economy. But to the surprise of Ghanaians, rather he is indicating that he is in charge of the digitalization of the country. No matter how well he is doing with that, which some Ghanaians appreciate, that was not the Bawumia sold to Ghanaians. It seems he is nowhere near the formulation and implementation of economic policies in the government.

Interestingly, before his vision statement where he claims to undo some policies of this government, he has said things that his government has done otherwise or even been denied by the President. Remember when he made a strong case against applying taxes on mobile money transactions? But what did his government do, they implemented the E-levy to tax mobile money transactions. In the same year 2020, he promised the people of Cape Coast that the next NPP government would build an airport and harbor for them. This was denied by President Nana Addo the following year (something he later apologized for). These are just some of the contradictions Vice-President Bawumia had with the government and by far the President.

You may want to interpret this situation as him not having control in the government. That what he says is not considered especially when it comes to the economy and will he be able to make such bold decisions to do away with some of the policies by President Akufo Addo? This argument becomes stronger because most of his supporters during the flagbearer elections were key members of the government. If his supporters were to have been people outside the government, then this argument would have been quashed.

On the other hand, you may want to look at it as a man who is firm and has his ideas even if his boss may not agree. He is not the 'yes sir master vice president'. He made his points known not only to the president but also to the entire population. With this, you can say that when he is given the power he can formulate policies that will be different from those of his predecessor.

Whether Ghanaians will trust him or not depends not only on him but also on President Akufo-Addo.

Nicholas Okota-Wilson
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