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What does Bawumia want in running mate?

Ghana’s political sphere in recent times has witnessed heated discourse concerning the impact of vice presidents in supporting their Presidents in managing the affairs of the country and the strategic impact of running mates on the presidential tickets in winning elections.

These debates relate to who the best Vice-President has been in our fourth republic, from the two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The NPP has argued that “Dr Bawumia is the best Vice-President in the history of our fourth republic,” while the NDC thinks otherwise.

There have been particular comparisons between former President, John Mahama’s tenure as Vice-President and Dr Bawumia’s tenure as Vice-President.

These comparisons have been done and are still being done to establish who is more competent and deserves the presidency as these two candidates are the main contenders, in Election 2024, representing the NDC and the NPP respectively.

These discussions have been had, factoring in the criteria one must meet and certain characteristics one must possess to be a viable candidate to be selected as running mate and that viability is mostly based on how that person can attract ‘new’ votes.

Ethnicity

In the past, the popularly discussed criteria were ethnicity, region, age and religion.

The most recent additions have been profession or career discipline and gender.

All these have been considered in the selection of running mates since 2000.

These criteria are considered to achieve strategic balance to appeal to targeted viable segments in the voter market.

For example, I believe one of the main reasons Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang was selected by NDC’s John Mahama going into Election 2020 was because she is female and her selection duly represents the inclusive agenda of the party at the time.

Also, Dr Bawumia’s selection in 2007 going into Election 2008 by NPP’s President Nana Akufo-Addo was influenced by his professional background as an economist since ‘transforming the economy’ was one of the main agenda of the party at the time.

This year’s election presents a very interesting case for the NPP, as this is the first time the party is being led by one who is not Akan and one who is Muslim, Dr Bawumia.

Many political analysts have tried to assess and speculate how this new development is going to turn out for the NPP, in relation to the consolidation of votes from their base and strongholds.

This then brings up the conversation of who Dr Bawumia is going to select as his running mate.

Many names have come up in the media and analysis have been done.

Dr Bawumia may consider some key things in his selection of a running mate.

Ethnicity and tribe

An Akan, most likely Ashanti, as indicated by top NPP officials and the strategy implication is to appeal to the electoral ‘cash cow’ of the NPP, the Ashanti Region.

This strategy is to create a sense of ownership among Ashantis and to a larger extent Akans, so that ‘they’ still rally behind ‘their’ party even though the one leading it is not one of them in terms of tribal lines.

A Christian, most likely a staunch member of any densely populated sects that are scattered nationwide.

Strategy implication is to appeal to Christians, the largest religious group in Ghana, as Bawumia is not a Christian but a Muslim.

A female most likely. Strategy implication is to counter the main contender NDC’s touting of having a more inclusive orientation as compared to NPP by selecting a female running mate in the last general election in 2020.

Personality

A non-domineering personality and unambitious character most likely.

The strategy implication is to avoid upstaging and breeding a possible contender for flag bearer in the next NPP presidential primaries, as Bawumia will seek to lead the party again as flag bearer.

I believe Dr Bawumia will consider these key elements discussed above leading to his decision to select a running mate for Election 2024.

He is expected to announce his decision in the coming weeks and the question I leave readers with is, will whoever Dr Bawumia select as his running mate matter?

The writer is a Doctoral Researcher,
University of Ghana.

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