Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, the outgoing Vice President, is the most elusive species of the presidency of John Dramani Mahama. His elusiveness trumps those of leopards of both the Ngorongoro and Serengeti National Parks put together, and this phenomenon has earned him the title of the most asked-about member of the government of the National Democratic Congress. Not a week passed on social media between 2015 and 2016 without at least a dozen comments, witty statements, demands and requests concerning his whereabouts and his role in the NDC government. His disappearing powers did not become as much the subject of Facebook and Twitter hunting parties and search-and-rescue expeditions as it did after Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia launched his assault of 170 questions. Memes pictured the poor second gentleman being hauled out of caves, basements and sewerage pipes to answer Bawumia’s unapologetic questions.
For those of you who somehow missed his #1 achievement of making it unto the list of important people enumerated in the Onaapo campaign song, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur is the 5th Vice President of the 4th Republic of Ghana. Before his assumption of the vice presidency in 2012, he was Governor of the Bank of Ghana, and his impressive CV nose-dives after that fact. The question we will seek to answer in this article is how such an elusive person became vice president of Ghana, and what role he could have played in the shameful defeat of President John Mahama in the 2016 polls.
Why was Amissah-Arthur selected as Vice President?
That is the simple, straightforward answer to why Amissah-Arthur was selected as vice president by President Mahama.
During the 2012 election campaign, and even as far back as the 2008 contest, it was apparent that the Akuffo-Addo & Mahamudu Bawumia composition, beyond the incidences of NDC rigging, was too powerful to defeat (as would later on be proven, in 2016). The Mills-Mahama presidential alliance in 2008 did nothing to inspire confidence in economic growth and stability, so when the opportunity presented itself after the demise of the good Prof to realign the presidency, the lack of a match for the brilliant Bawumia became too painfully evident for the new president who had hardly recovered from his shock at his unexpected presidential fortune. And Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur appeared as the most powerful choice after a thorough search through the rank and file of the NDC’s topmost brains.
Right after his selection, and soon after winning the 2012 presidential elections, it became apparent that the only reason Amissah-Arthur was selected vice president was for the political advantage of a match for the good Dr. Bawumia. This is because the economy took an immediate plunge for the worse after the swearing-in of January 7, 2013. And try as they could, Mahama and his elusive veep could not right the nose-dive of the Ghanaian economy. This forced Finance Minister Terkper to rush back to the same IMF the previous NPP government had gone to a lot of trouble to divorce after our brief but rewarding affair with the HIPC initiative. All this while, Amissah-Arthur as head of the government’s economic (mis)management team seemed powerless to stop a declining economy and even safeguard the country’s currency.
And then dumsor struck like a thunderbolt. If anything, that jolt of economic shock revealed the asinine incompetence of the Mahama-led administration’s handling of the Ghanaian economy, leading not a few to question the economic management skills of Amissah-Arthur touted by the 2012 NDC campaign. Things then came to a head when Dr. Bawumia began to directly antagonize the vice president in one lecture after another, wreaking havoc on the NDC’s policies and breaking and chewing into unredeemable pieces every assumption of economic acuity by the ruling government. By January 2016, and after the inevitable exposure of the fallacies in any assumption that Amissah-Arthur was in the presidency to both heal the economy and freeze Bawumia’s blazing effect in opposition, the good vice president had become a scarce commodity at the forefront of anything involving the NDC administration. Time and time again, Ghanaians began to wonder where he was, and it was not uncommon to have Facebook folks remind everyone that Amissah-Arthur was vice president of the Ghanaian Republic.
Even those who hated all that the NDC and President Mahama stood for began to offer prayers for the long life and prosperity of the president. The idea that Amissah-Arthur would be president should anything amiss befall Mahama was a nightmare no one wished for. That’s just how really bad the light surrounding the vice president had gotten to.
What Did Amissah-Arthur Contribute to Mahama’s shameful shellacking?
Contrary to interesting opinion on the matter, this jungle boy posits that Vice President Amissah-Arthur is in no way, whether by omission or commission, responsible for Mahama’s debilitating trouncing at the 2016 polls. And my reasons for holding this position are simply that “Indecisive managers may not accomplish much. But on the long list of things they don’t do is this: get fired.” – Jared Sandberg.
True, the shameful performance of the NDC in the 2016 elections is a firing of Amissah-Arthur as well as John Mahama off the top job of this country, but we need to understand why Amissah-Arthur was content to remain incognito.
Under the NDC government, and specifically under the presidency of Mahama, the vice presidential office was treated with less respect and honour than it garnered when Vice President Aliu Mahama of fond memory held it. Under the NPP, you would be egregiously mistaken to think that if you invited President Kuffour to a function that he couldn’t honour, he would send Alhaji Aliu Mahama in his stead. No way. If you didn’t invite the specific office of Vice President then you were in trouble to find a presidential presence at your function. The two offices were distinctly separate and competent in each’s own right, and President Kuffour was honoured to have had Aliu Mahama working with him as his near-equal.
Not so the office of Vice President under the NDC. Rumours were rife to Koku Anyidoho, times without number, disrespecting the person and office of Vice President John Mahama when he [Anyidoho] was the HBIC (Head-Bull-In-Charge] of the Presidency at the Castle under Mills. Was it any wonder then that Koku disappeared off the radar in the first few years of the Mahama presidency until just before the NDC’s Congress when he stood and won the deputy General Secretary position?
So I don’t believe that Amissah-Arthur contributed to Mahama’s whipping at the polls. If anything at all, he did well to condition the NDC to the possibility of defeat when he called on pollsters to desist from making false claims that certain parties were going to win the 2016 elections. He may also have been prevented from bringing his experience to bear in the involvement of Ibrahim Mahama, the president’s brother, in the running of the affairs of state and of party.
But let there be no doubt: Amissah-Arthur contributed immensely to ensuring that a competent government was voted for in 2016. And that is a good thing, whether or not it’s a blessing NDC folks and their infuriating neutral sidekicks will disagree with. And for this, we will miss Amissah-Arthur immeasurably. No one could pull a David Copperfield on the Ghanaian political stage better than he could.
Now, we have to find someone else to laugh at who is so helplessly laughable-at in spite of themselves.
I wonder who that will be…
Until then, here’s a reminder of how real Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur might have been in a government of delusional administrators:
Tuesday, November 29. FSH
The president reaches for the champagne glass after the birthday toast. It’s time for one more sip before he retires to prepare for the presidential debate. The ministers gathered around him make way for his special aide. The aide whispers briefly into the president’s right ear just as he lifts the glass to his lips. He sputters and almost chokes on his drink. He drops the glass, his face red with rage, invisible beneath his African skin. He lets fly a few curses, culled from every known shrine in the Bole area.
Julius: Everything alright, sir?
Oga: Hell No!
Koku: What’s wrong, Mr. President?
Oga: It’s that damn Bugri Naabu.
Amissah-Arthur: Bugri who???
Oga: That useless NPP Northen Regional Chairman we paid to resign and declare that Addo-D was a dictator who hated northerners like a religion. He’s blown the lid on the whole thing.
All: He did what?!
Amissah-Arthur: Why the hell did we do such a thing?
Koku: (Holding his head in his palms) What did he say?
Oga: Everything apparently. And the NPP has called a press conference exposing the whole affair. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted that snake. I’d like to get my hands on Bugri’s potbelly right now. I’d sweat a few pounds off him.
Terkper: What do we do?
Koku: (Shrugs. Trying hard to keep himself under control) The usual.
Amissah-Arthur: Which is…?
Oga: (Looking at PK with something close to hatred) We deny it flatly. No ifs, no buts. And call the son-of-the-north a damn liar.
Terkper: How would we deny that we gave him that much money? What about the papers surrounding the vehicle transfer and so forth?
Koku: Never mind that. All we have to do is deny it and call him names. We’ve done this before. Just leave Bugri to me and Adams.
Kwakye: What’s this going to do to us? We have a week to the elections.
Amissah-Arthur: I know the answer to that one.
Oga: (Scowls deeply at Amissah-Arthur) What?!
Amissah-Arthur: (Calmly grabs a glass of champagne, sips it with a stretched out slurp, returns the president’s foul gaze with a cool, steady one, crosses a leg in his chair and proclaims, while swirling his champagne in the glass) WE ARE CERTIFIABLY SCREWED.