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Bawumia factor, Zongo connection

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia In A Face Shielf 696x550 Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana

Thu, 23 Jul 2020 Source: Suleiman Ousman

When I first met Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia sometime in 2008 (I had gone to the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for an assignment as the Business Editor of a private newspaper), I hinted him that his name had come up for consideration to partner the then candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the 2008 general election; he exclaimed, “But I am not a politician!”

Trying to convince him, he pulled me to his office as the deputy governor, locked the door and engaged me on why he could not accept the offer.

I justified my conviction that given his achievements and how he had risen through the ranks to become a deputy governor of the bank, he was first of all a role model and an inspiration to the many Zango and Northern youth, who needed someone to look up to. I told him he was the perfect model.

When news of his selection became public, Dr Bawumia took time to reflect before eventually accepting. The rest, they say, is history.

Today, some consider him as the electoral vote winning frontman for the NPP and an active participant in the implementation of the President’s vision.

Rigours

Since assuming office in January 2017, Dr Bawumia has adapted to the rigours of partisan politics, remaining a professional economist, with specialisation in both macro-economic management and development economics, two areas in which he is deservedly regarded internationally as one of Ghana’s best.

Instructively, that is why he was chosen as running mate for the NPP’s 2008 Presidential bid, over several more politically experienced options.

In the eight years between the first presidential election campaign and, eventually, successful one in 2016, Dr Bawumia consistently demonstrated extraordinary grasp of economic challenges and the policies and programmes required to overcome them, while at the same time, quickly learning partisan politics and political governance.

Furthermore, during the Supreme Court’s adjudication of the 2012 election petition, he demonstrated sharp intellect and the ability to apply mathematically driven logic to analyse data, with an exemplary degree of accuracy.

Indeed, his ability to win votes from both the northern and all segments of the population are crucial ingredients in the NPP’s 2016 general election victory.

But even this tremendous achievement pales when compared to his conduct and accomplishments as the most involved, most pivotal Vice-President in Ghana’s history so far – Dr. Bawumia is transforming Ghana in two key ways which will ensure his place in history. Both, as expected, involve his impact on economic performance; but both also derive from his passion for a more inclusive form of national economic growth and development and this is already proving crucial.

Zango communities

One is the attention he is personally giving to the more than 3,000 Zango communities and his willingness to leverage the weight of government as a whole to the cause.

It is instructive that within weeks of his taking office as Vice-President, the first-ever Ministry for Inner Cities and Zongo Development was established specifically to develop the country’s hitherto underprivileged urban Zango communities to unleash the immense talents and capacities.

This was quickly accompanied by the Zongo Development Fund.

While these operate openly, Dr Bawumia’s personal advocacy in this regard are done on the quiet, but are no less instrumental.

Importantly, for the first time in Ghana, leaders of urban Zango communities have direct access to someone at the very highest tier of governance, to whom they can present their communal challenges and discuss possible solutions, in the knowledge that these will actually be acted upon.

Today, Dr Bawumia’s wife, Samira Bawumia is the most visible politician in most zango communities in the country. In some of the communities, ‘Madam’ is how they call her, an indication of the direct access they have with her.

Social injustice

This is crucial to the national economy as a whole, not just because it is correcting a six decade long history of social injustice – but even more practically, because the people of Northern and Zango communities are renowned for their hard work and creativity, necessitated by their well acknowledged need to fend entirely for themselves in the absence of state support in the past.

With Dr Bawumia now ensuring unprecedented support from government, their positive attributes and socio-economic participation are now being unleashed for the benefit of the entire macro-economy.

Indeed, this fits in with Dr Bawumia’s wider, concerted efforts to accelerate development in the northern half of Ghana, which not only serves as the country’s under-appreciated food basket, but also has the best potential for generating extraordinary economic growth.

Digital transformation

The digital transformation of the country into a modern, technology driven, agro-industrial state, several decades after the need for a transition from a primary commodity export-led one was recognised, but could not be implemented due to the lack of requisite effort, remains a great enabler.

Now Bawumia is living up to the billing, masterminding, in phases, what Ghana has always needed but, hitherto was unable to do.

Digital addressing, paperless ports for international trade facilitation and a sharp expansion of digital channels for everything from financial payments and transfers to healthcare delivery and, lately, the ground breaking use of drones to deliver medicines to remote parts of the country.

Accelerated

His leadership of the Economic Management Team has restored macroeconomic stability and provided the requisite platform for sustainable accelerated economic growth.

Added to this is the championing of supply side economics to boost productive capacity and actual output, while making the private sector more economically cost and price competitive.

Unfortunately though, the huge requirements for the completion of Ghana’s economic restructuring and the inevitable time lag between policy initiation and actual policy impact, mean that Dr Bawumia’s herculean efforts will not bear full results immediately.

A decade from now, however, even the average Ghanaian will be able to appreciate the role he has played in raising economic fortunes and the expected consequent improved living standards.

Dr. Bawumia though, like President Akufo-Addo, who chose him, has his eyes firmly fixed on his place in history.

For now, it is only a matter of time to show how the future treats him, just time.

Columnist: Suleiman Ousman
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