I am writing this article because of the recent nomination of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman as the running mate to Mr. John Dramani Mahama for the 2020 presidential elections. Although it is not the first of its kind a Professor has assumed the reigns of the high office of the land, the nomination of the former Vice-Chancellor, a woman and a mother, has its uniqueness and worth celebrating. I have listened to and watched comments, and I must say that, but for some little gruff exteriors in the commentary around it, the arguments for and against her nomination are welcome.
What leaves me puzzled and harrowing is the attempt by some of the commentators to suggest that by virtue of Prof. Naana’s academic accomplishments as a University don and former Vice Chancellor, she is ahead of Dr. Bawumia, and by extension, better than him. Much as I believe such individuals are entitled to their opinions, I wish to surmise that their comparison may be flawed.
As far as my young life has observed the political governance of this country from 1992 to date, I am yet to come across any Vice President that has distinguished himself so much and gone the extra mile beyond what his President or the constitution has assigned to him to perform so creditably and impacted life more than Dr. Bawumia. I believe the NPP itself has not sat down to analyze the gains their government has made from Dr. Bawumia and what he means to them going forward, but I want to highlight a few.
At the risk of sounding very demeaning and displaying a lack of historical memories of past political regimes and the roles their Veeps played from 1992, I am equally grown and educated enough to read, listen or observe for myself if there are any novel noticeable accomplishments. From the late Ekow Ackaah to the late Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, let’s take our time and analyze what significant impact, each of them, individually did that we can readily recollect. It’s a cerebral exercise; just do it yourself in a matter of two minutes and continue reading …
Yes, Bawumia is a ‘normal’ PhD holder and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana that perhaps may not be compared to the VC of a University, as some may want to suggest. But the truth of the matter is that Bawumia’s life even as a student is an inspiration to young students. He went to Buckingham University in the UK and did not just graduate with a first class honours in economics but he was the best student in economics at the school. Later, he went to the prestigious Oxford University and had a distinction for his Masters in Economics.
He obtained his PhD in economics at the Simon Frazer University in Canada. Like Prof. Naana, he has had stints in academia having taught at the University of British Columbia, Canada and Baylor University in the USA, among others. At Baylor, he was named among America’s ‘Who Is Who’ in teaching economics and won the young researcher award. As an academic he publishes and gives research position papers to Institutes of great repute such as the Oxford University and the World Bank. This is an enviable record in and around the academia that every student/academic will aspire to.
The ‘young man’ having qualified as a Banker in addition to being an Economist, left academia for industry working and rising to become Director, Special Assistant to the Governor, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and even to heading the African Development Bank in Zimbabwe, all in his young age of, in and around 44.
As Head of the Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Department of the BoG, he led, designed and implemented the inflation-targeting framework that continues to guide monetary policy and the workings at the monetary policy Committee of the BoG. It was as a result of it that Ghana’s inflation reduced from 40.5% in 2000 (under the NDC government) to about 18.5% in 2008. As Chairman of the Capital Markets Committee, he was responsible for the strategy of Ghana’s first debut into the Eurobond market to raise US$750 million, which was four times over-subscribed. Today, from NPP to NDC going to the Eurobond market is the new normal; thanks to Bawumia. He led the introduction of e-zwich card, redenomination of the cedi, was part of the team for the negotiations on the millennium challenge compact, among others. So clearly, one could see that Bawumia uses his theoretical knowledge from academia to implement far-reaching practical solutions to everyday problems.
Now fast-forward to when he was nominated and entered partisan politics and government. I am not sure any politician, individual and or Civil Society has scholarly criticized government policies and programs as Bawumia has done so far. I am not sure any Vice-Presidential nominee and or Presidential nominee has been able to speak scholarly and practically to a Party or governments policies and programs as a Bawumia does.
Ordinarily and per the Constitutional structure, the Vice President is basically at the beck and call of the President being in the shadow yet if there has been a time that the country has witnessed a Vice President who has been trusted by his Boss such that he has been given the nod to introduce and implement ‘innovative’ policies and programs that has far-reaching benefits to the citizenry, I think it is Bawumia.
Bawumia through his knowledge, has championed a massive digitization agenda of this country to enable Ghana move with the contemporary trends of the fourth industrial revolution. The consequences of these digitization agenda are their practical uses in everyday life. If today, commerce, trade and payments have been made so easy for both the elite and non-elites through mobile money payments interoperability, we must thank Bawumia.
From the ‘Koko’ seller, to the Farmer to the Hair dresser to the mason, teacher, store keeper, Dr, Prof, Lawyer, and what have you, we are able to pay and receive payments very easily across all networks.
Let me ask oo. When was the last time you visited the DVLA office or tried to renew your health insurance registration or acquire or renew your passport? You noticed how quick, easy and less corrupt the process has been? If yes, say a prayer for Bawumia and thank him if you meet him. And what did you use to register for your voter’s ID card? I am just asking oo. Did you use the national ID card called the Ghana Card? Wow! Please thank Bawumia. Are you an importer or you know someone who imports or exports? What has he been saying about the paperless port system? Thank Bawumia. Did you just apply for scholarship for yourself or on behalf of someone? Did you have to travel from your village, town or district to Accra before you could do that? Obviously no, because of the online registration – thank Bawumia.
The last time it was raining, and your electricity pre-paid units got finished what did you do? Were you able to use just your phone to purchase the units through the ECG app and mobile money payments interoperability? Thank Bawumia. I can go on and on and on but please note that these digitization efforts and the introduction of drones, digitization of hospital records, etc. are the pieces of the jig-saw that we need well knitted together to place Ghana on the development paradigm.
Aside the digitization, cast your minds around and see what happened when the Vice President led the first ever Town Hall Meeting of the Economic Management Team as the Chairman. There was the announcement of a 50% cut on import duties for selected imported products and 30% cut for vehicles. This, no doubt, was the initiative of Vice President Bawumia.
When roads infrastructure matter became very huge in Ghana and government finances were constrained, government sources say it took the same Bawumia to strike a non-debt but infrastructure for bauxite barter deal with the Chinese government through Sinohydro for the largest single ever infrastructure investment project in the country since independence. Today, through the $2 billion secured the northern part of Ghana is having its first interchange. The novelty of this arrangement was such that the minority in parliament and even some elites in Ghana thought it was not feasible, but it is working.
From what we can all observe from afar, Bawumia’s innovations and initiatives in the government of President Akufo-Addo are so overwhelming and unprecedented that the brevity of space and time will not allow me to chronicle all of them here. But I think there are two or three that I must touch on.
Guess what! First, I am talking about the creation of 100,000 jobs for young graduates through NABCO. President Akufo-Addo’s acknowledgement of Bawumia and his team during the launch of NABCO is telling of the fact that the man, Bawumia, and the young talented guys in his office created the whole idea of the NABCO and appointed one of their own, Dr. Ibrahim Anyars, to head it, as sources indicate. Have we had such a Vice President in this country before?
Second is the One Constituency One Ambulance. The Minister for Special Development Initiative and the Head of Ghana Ambulance Services have on countless occasions extolled Vice President Bawumia for his leadership and coaching in realizing the dream of having these 307 ambulances. This was not in the Party’s manifesto but when Bawumia saw the need for it he thought outside the box and, truly, it was delivered.
Then third, broadly on the economy. There is no denying the fact that but for the advent of COVID-19, the economy under the chairmanship of Bawumia had been turned around relative to what the government inherited. This is what President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe wrote on Thursday, 9th July 2020 on the economy prior to COVID-19, “We must remind ourselves that COVID-19 also wiped out almost 5% of GDP. And so it would not be the fault of the government when we end up with a 2% GDP. The economy was in good hands – no doubt. Which is why we must avoid decisions that compound the problem. Shut the schools now, my brother Bawumia.”
I know I do not have enough space to provide a copious case on the economic gains, however arguable my views will be but there is enough testament that the economy has been managed quite well. Even in COVID-19, the fact that the President has been able to steer the wheels while providing such huge freebies (safety nets), amidst revenue shortfalls is proof that the fundamentals are actually better; otherwise, a non-resilient economy cannot stand catastrophic tornados let alone support its citizens.
He (Bawumia) is certainly not a saint and may have some frailties but aside all these brilliant efforts and many others what is distinguishably unique about him is that there is no yet any claim and or even gossiped or fabricated case of corruption around him. He still remains the humble, polite, hardworking, respectful, God-fearing and youth-friendly Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. If indeed anyone wants to compare any potential or past Vice President with Bawumia he or she must know Bawumia has already raised the bar high and worth appreciating.
I welcome Prof Jane, and I await to read the policies and programs she and the NDC team may seek to introduce if re-elected.