Paa Kwesi Was Merely an Accident in Waiting – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, Ghana's Vice-President
Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, Ghana’s Vice-President

It amounts to an oversimplification of matters for anybody to fault Vice-President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur for the massive loss suffered by President John Dramani Mahama and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the December 2016 general election (See “Amissah-Arthur Failed Mahama, NDC – Casely-Hayford” / 12/17/16). The fact of the matter is that the caliber of any leader is strikingly reflected in the choices of cabinet appointees the leader concerned makes and the resultant performance of these appointees. And so rather than prosaically putting the cart before the horse, as it were, what my good friend and respected financial analyst Mr. Sydney Casely-Hayford ought to have done should have been to first examine the set of circumstances that led to the selection of Vice-President Amissah-Arthur as President Mahama’s running-mate for Election 2012.

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First and foremost, it is all too obvious that the then-Governor of the nation’s central treasury, the Bank of Ghana, was selected with the sole purpose of countervailing the impact of the selection of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the former Deputy-Governor of the Bank of Ghana, as the running-mate of the three-time Presidential Candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. In essence, the selection of Mr. Amissah-Arthur was more squarely predicated on the psychological strategy, or the public impact thereof, rather than the fact of whether, indeed, the nominee was an effective match for his New Patriotic Party counterpart. And here, also, as amply demonstrated over the course of the last four years, Dr. Bawumia has proven himself to be far and away a better economist and one with a commanding knowledge of the Ghanaian economy than any of his counterparts among the ranks of the National Democratic Congress.

His analyses of economic trends on the national scene, both at the macro and micro levels, have not been matched by any of the key economic operatives of the National Democratic Congress. And so it is not a question of Mr. Amissah-Arthur’s having failed the man who selected him as his running-mate but whether, indeed, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was the best choice of economic expert/expertise available to President Mahama.

The second issue had to do with ethnicity or tribal affiliation and how the latter fed into the electioneering campaign agenda and strategy of the National Democratic Congress. And on this count, it well appears that the selection of Mr. Amissah-Arthur, first as an Interim-Vice President and, secondly, as a Vice-Presidential Candidate, had as much to do with the nominee’s ethnicity or sub-ethnic affiliation as it had to do with his perceived professional expertise as a strategic checkmate for Dr. Bawumia. The fact that Mr. Amissah-Arthur was widely perceived as an ethnic replacement for the recently deceased President John Evans Atta-Mills, almost decidedly ensured that any possibility of predicating the selection of the running-mate of then-Interim-President Mahama purely on professional merit would be highly limited.

In the short term, the ethnic or tribal factor would redound to the benefit of both the National Democratic Congress and a pathologically ethnocentric President Mahama. This momentarily successful tribal strategy may actually have convinced the Bole-Bamboi native to foreground tribalism as a central plank of his electioneering campaign agenda. Fortunately, one can only pursue a vacuous tribal agenda for so long. Sooner or later, the people will begin to demand substantive results-oriented performance. This is precisely the avenue in which the key operatives of the Mahama government brought themselves woefully short.

In other words, the one great weakness of the Mahama government was for the leadership of the National Democratic Congress to believe that it could facilely substitute tribalism and empty political propaganda for palpable performance. You see, you cannot fool all the people all the time. Sooner than later, the fool wises up, and the game is abruptly brought to its logical conclusion, a massive loss for the mischief-maker.

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