Friday, 19 July

Is the choice of Napo as Veep, a good one for the NPP?

Feature Article
Bawumia and Napo

It had to be him. It was never in doubt. Was there a better choice? Could we have afforded to overlook him? We had to take a chance on him.

These are but some of the comments I came across from sympathizers of the ruling New Patriotic Party following the announcement of Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh as the running mate to Dr Bawumia ahead of the elections on December 7th.

This was further buttressed by the General Secretary of the NPP, Justin Kodua Frimpong when the party officially announced Napo as the running mate of the party’s flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in Accra on Thursday. Hear him.

“If you were to ask me what Dr Matthew Prempeh brings to the NPP presidential ticket, I will tell you he brings decades of political astuteness, trustworthy leadership, confidence, decisiveness, grassroots mobilisation, charisma, patriotism and demonstrable incorruptibility.

Again, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh shares Dr Bawumia’s vision of bold solutions for our country that are responsive to the needs, opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.

In this respect, he complements our flagbearer in many significant ways and the two enjoy a warm, personal relationship anchored on deep mutual respect.

More importantly, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has a great working relationship with our Presidential Candidate, H.E Alhaji Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia.”

The choice of 4-term Member of Parliament from Manhyia South has not been a smooth ride. Names like former Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Education Minister Dr Yaw Adu Twum, Chief of Staff Madam Frema Osei Opare and in recent times District Assemblies Common Fund boss Madam Naa Torshie Addo had been mentioned.

Having been through a vice-presidential search himself, Dr Bawumia would have been clear from the start about what he wanted in a running mate and in the selection process. He would want a full partner in government with whom he felt personally connected to.

He would not have wanted a process of elimination whereby a large pool of candidates would be gradually slashed down, with the losers identified as such in public.

My understanding from people close to the flagbearer was that of a prudent team speaking to a good number of top party officials and grassroot people within the conversation of a quiet “vetting process.” A choice had to be made on the flagbearer’s terms.

NUMBERS

That is self-explanatory, isn’t it? May be not.

The party with the highest number of votes traditionally wins the elections.

The NPP have strongly benefited from votes in the Ashanti Region.

The Region has been a fierce loyalist of the Party since the UP days and has strongly contributed to their electoral gains since the inception of the 4th Republic in 1992.

A look at the Presidential voting pattern throws up some interesting statistics. 65.8 % in 1996,74.8% in 2000, 77% in 2004, 72.5% in 2008, 70.9% in 2012, 76.3% in 2016 and 72.8% in 2020

With talk of apathy in the region ahead of the election, any political strategist would be looking at these figures with keen interest.

Those numbers, together with a decent showing in the Greater Accra, Western, Eastern and Central is more than enough for an electoral victory.

Indeed, out of the total votes of 6,653,737 votes polled by the party in 2020, the Ashanti Region contributed up to 1,793,629 votes (72.8%).

That is a staggering return for any political party in Ghana from one region.

On the back of these numbers alone, the choice of a running mate from this region would not be up for a debate. The nod, ultimately going to Napo, who is from the region is clearly to galvanise the biggest base of the party into showing up at the polling station. Smart Idea in my opinion.

 POLITICAL EXPERIENCE

Many years ago, the young Dr Napo lived and worked in the United Kingdom but following Dr Addo Kufuor’s decision not to contest for a 4th Parliamentary term ahead of the 2008 General Elections, an avenue was opened for him to make a foray into Ghanaian Politics.

In the process, he has become a 4 Time member of Parliament (2008 and counting) serving in the powerful Defence and Interior Committee, Appointments Committee coupled with being the Political Head of key Ministries in Government (Education and Energy).

Now that surely puts one into consideration for big political jobs.

This was not going to be overlooked by Dr Bawumia and his advisers. It is fair to say that notable personalities like Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Member of Parliament of Suame since 1996 may have had a more stellar political career than Napo. This would not have been lost on Team Bawumia but something had to give with Napo getting the nod.

MEDIA LOBBY

The lobbying machine had been set in motion for some time. Months before the announcement on Thursday July 4, it did appear that many political big wigs in the party were rooting for Napo.

There appeared to be a well-orchestrated PR Machinery to keep the 4-time MP in the news for the right reasons and to project a very good impression of the energy minister never mind his comments on the Energy Crisis.

He almost always appeared on the front pages of many private newspapers for one good deed or the other.

Various Broadcasting Houses with their carefully crafted Newspaper Review Segments were ultimately compelled to discuss these stories invariably projecting his candidacy as a potential Veep.

The other supposed candidates did not appear to be doing enough to create conversations around their potential candidatures.

The survey by the National Investigations Bureau which appears to have been carefully choreographed ultimately put him in an unassailable lead.

According to 5116 delegates sampled by the organization, in excess of 70% were of the opinion that Napo was the best choice for candidate Bawumia. It doesn’t come any better than that.

 COMPATIBILITY

This is extremely important. Relationships are key when it comes to a working environment.

A closer and stronger relationship helps to get results.

One could argue that you don’t have to be friends to work together but it is also fair to say that a closer working relationship goes a long to build that strong unit which helps to easily bend bridges when there are issues.

According to US Media, one of the reasons why Representative Karen Bass of California did not get the nod as President Biden's running mate ahead of the 2020 elections in the United States was that the President barely knew her.

Her professional competencies were not in doubt but the President did not want to be second-guessing on who she was. You have got be sure about the kind of personality you are working with in any political environment.

Someone you can feed off, says it as it is and brings great ideas to the table.

There has to be a vibe. I understand there is all that and more with Doc and Doc.

That cannot be overlooked.

 LOYALTY TO THE PARTY, GOVERNMENT AND PRESIDENT

It is hard to argue against Napo on this score.

A party loyalist par excellence. I have followed his “exploits” in Parliament over the years and his time as Minister.

The verve in defending the ideals of his party and that of the President and his Vice is unmatched.

Over the years, he has stood up to the opponents of the government with all his might.

The energy with which he has defended government policies under his jurisdiction (Education and Energy) and beyond is peerless.

Indeed, some argue that it is that loyalty that has led to some of his supposed hissy fits in the media space. Loyalty is key to any political dispensation.

As much as possible, any leader would want an unrivalled loyalist at all times. Napo is a definition of that level of loyalty. You cannot take that away from him.

 A lot may have been written and said about Napo's overly blunt and brash nature for a conservative society like ours.

That straight-talking character who says it to your face devoid of the boot-licking praise singer might be what Dr Bawumia wants and what he is comfortable with.

Time will tell whether that will help break the 8 or otherwise.

 The writer, Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang is a Media Professional and an adjunct lecturer at Pentecost, African University College of Communications and Accra Technical Universities.

Source: Kame Dwomoh Agyemang