22.08.2008 Feature Article

DMB And The Boom Show

DMB And The Boom Show
22.08.2008 LISTEN

A Compatriot who has not made a single news headline for as long as any celebrity tracker in town can remember, suddenly  received a massive overdose of media publicity this week, thanks to fate, circumstance and something else I am still trying to put a finger on.

Media obsession with this individual was so all-consuming you could have sworn the man had invented a plane which flies under the ground and runs on coconut juice for fuel or something.

The naming of 44 year-young deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana Dr Mahamudu Bahumia as the NPP's vice-presidential candidate, sparked off an orgy of publicity for the young genius: His wide ranging accomplishments in academia, banking and finance.

Editors binged on the man's CV, one of the longest if also most impressive many say they have ever seen.


Such was the media obsession with Dr Bawumia that some NPP activists had to remind all and sundry, that the name of the party's presidential candidate was Nana Akufo-Addo and not Dr Bawumia.

Fantastic tickets to big time jobs, exceptional CVs, but great CVs do not good political leaders make, do they, Jomo?


As someone said the other day, political leadership is not about speaking good English, calculating complicated mathematical equations or computing and analyzing quantum statistics.

A clear understanding of these truths explains why most true academics will not touch partisan politic with a hundred-meter pole and prefer to stay virtually trapped behind the ivory tower all their lives.

Those who have ventured out of academia into politics have lived to regret it with a groan and a sigh: Looking around town, Jomo, you may easily cite the cases of Dr This, Dr That  and Dr That-Other-One, who all abandoned their university teaching positions for active politics and eventually came to great grief.

That great intellectuals happened to lead the struggle for our independence and assumed the mantle of national leadership in the immediate post-independence era, has made us so CV-happy when it comes to our choice of leaders.

We have had five civilian elected heads of state since independence and apart from JJ and JAK, the rest have been PhD holders.

By great contrast, the great-grandfather of democracy, the United States, has had 43 presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush and none save Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president, had a PhD!

Nah, Jomo, great CVs do not good political leaders make, but if there is any consolation on this score, it is probably that the establishment will always do everything possible for as long as possible, to conceal the fact of having unwittingly stuck a square peg in a round hole,  or is it the other way round?

Now, some relevant history: While I was teacher-trainee at the Nalerigu Training College in the late 1960s, the campus drama troupe took a great stage act titled 'The Wicked Uncle” on a highly successful road show in several regions.


The drama portrayed the harsh conditions under which orphans lived in the 1960s.

I played a bloke who befriended a philandering bank manager in the story and helped the manager burn loads of customers' cash on scotch and women.

Whenever we took the show to a town, the community centre was the typical venue for the show. In educational institutions, the school dining hall was usually the venue.

In Nalerigu town itself, there was no community center at the time and whenever we treated the town folk to the side-splitting drama, the large residence of the late Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia was usually the venue.

The inner court of the residence served as a theater. The late Alhaji Bawumia himself lived in Tamale most of the time with his family including Dr Bawumia who must been aged five or six at the time.

The late Alhaji Bawumia was one of the few Ghanaians of northern extraction to participate in national politics at the very highest level in his day and in his book Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia: a Life in Political History, he provides one of the most insightful perspectives of a northerner on Ghana's politics.

In the book, he defends the career choices he made against critics and asks young people from the north to do the same. See? Dr Bawumia has apparently taken him at his word!

As you might expect however, the opposition went to work all week, looking for muck to throw at the vice-presidential candidate. The NPP swears none of it will stick on the young man.

The nagging source of anxiety over the coming elections now appears to be the register of voters: Electoral Commissioner Dr Afari Gyan has admitted publicly that going by the demographics of our estimated national population, the figure of nearly two million young people who registered to vote mostly for the first time, cannot be accurate.

By his estimation, there have been more than a million unaccounted for names in the recent registration of voters. Now that is what I call honesty on the part of the polling referee.

The term bloated register conjures up mental images of something swollen from putrid decay, like the unsightly, blue public toilet fly.


That certainly symbolises the corrupting effect of a flawed register on the democratic process, yah?

What does Dr Gyan propose to do? That is the unanswered question. Cleaning up the voters register three months to the election is easier said than done.

To go to the polls with a register bloated by two million names and still have a fair election devoid of fraudulent voting will require the kind of very close and aggressive policing of voting, that could see violence at polling stations.

I wish Dr Gyan could allay our fears and restore our confidence in the integrity of the coming poll.

There was an intriguing development in the campaign of the National Democratic Congress this week.


This dialogue which I overheard summarises it:

“Have you heard about Dr. Boom?”

“Not lately. What is up with the man this time?”

“I hear he has hit the campaign trail with an animated vengeance.”

“Where is he exactly?”


“Touring the country.”

“Is he trying to highjack Mills' campaign or something?

“I don't know.”

“The man attracts the headlines faster than giant magnets attract pins”

“The NPP propaganda machinery would be extremely delighted to have a big boom show on the campaign trail to work great campaign spins with.”

“On the contrary the man's presence on the NDC's campaign trail may be the last thing the NPP wants, don't you think?”

“Let us wait and see.”

“Some folks really love the man's explosions, some for sheer entertainment and others because it unsettles his opponents and makes them fret.”

“If the NDC people can confine him to strategic locations, the man could catch them votes you know.”

“That is if they can keep him from booming.”

“Short of sealing the man's mouth with multi-layered adhesive, how do you propose to do that..?”

With George Sydney Abugri

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