Dr. Bawumia and the NPP brand

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Successful business corporations have brands whose worth sometimes exceeds their actual market value. The Apple brand stands for freshness and creativity. Volvo evokes a sense of safety in consumers. What does the New Patriotic Party (NPP) brand evoke in you?

Strong political parties have unique brands rooted partly in their founding history. To unpack the founding history, it is important to know who the founders were, what they did for a living, and what major event(s) triggered the party’s formation. It is also useful to understand the founders’ development philosophy. In this regard, the NPP has a unique brand that is imbued with meaning that helps differentiate it from others in the “political market place.” Party brands, if managed well, yield dividends in what pundits call “political equity,” which pays off at the polling booths.

The NPP brand appeals to people of all socio-economic persuasions, but particularly to a unique crop of the youthful middle class. Bright Simons, an entrepreneur and social commentator, labels them the ‘Aspirational Class’ instead, describing them as “having a mix of entrepreneurial pursuits with the hunt for professional pedigree.” They tend to consist of professionals, intellectuals and businessmen and women from both white and blue-collar professions.

What Dr. Bawumia, an Economist and NPP’s Vice Presidential Candidate, brings to the table is best appreciated.

In light of this, the NPP rolls out smart economic and social policies that facilitate the upper mobility of the poor. An excellent example is Ex-President Kufour’s eight-year tenure. Inspired by the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, Kufour’s robust policies grew the economy, and put Ghana on the lower middle-income trajectory for the first time in the country’s history. He achieved this feat partly by slashing in half the proportion of Ghanaians living in extreme poverty and hunger, a feat that earned him the prestigious World Food Prize award in 2011.

In spite of his government’s shortcomings, Kufour managed to reinforce and consolidate the party brand. His government’s strategy came to demonstrate what is possible when competent politicians and technically skilled elite force work intelligently with the private sector for the common good. By growing the economy, expanding the middle class and shrinking the under class, Kufour put a positive spin on the party brand, helping to appreciate its value.

Today, Dr. Bawumia is well positioned to play a crucial role in marketing the party brand, especially to the ‘aspirational’ youth. To put it in a “dumsonian” language, he is increasingly becoming light to everything dark in President Mahama’s handling of the stunting economy. He is well educated, intelligent, analytically rigorous, and above all, gracious.

His well-acclaimed public lectures employ evidence-based technical analysis in diagnosing the fundamental ills of the economy. He predicted the infamous currency depreciation last year before it finally hit. By mid 2014, the Ghana cedi became the worst performing currency in the world behind conflict-prone Ukraine. In March of the same year, he also foresaw and warned government to clean up the fiscal space or risk a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). True to his words, President Mahama recently succumbed to a bailout facility of almost one billion dollars from the IMF. These lectures are not only elevating the standards of public discourse, but are most importantly revolutionizing the approach to policy formulation and implementation. This is a healthy development, given how a new crop of militant government communicators seize the airwaves and effectively dilute important public discourses to propagate parochial agendas.

The former Bank of Ghana Deputy Governor has transformed himself into the new poster child of the NPP brand. His value derives not from seeking to transform the nature and character of the NPP. That foundation has already been laid decades ago, thanks to the likes of Professor Adu Boahen, Dr. Abrefa Busia, and Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah. Dr. Bawumia is valuable because he has become the major identifiable figure in our time that is actively re-aligning the party to its root, steeped in intellectual rigor, under the firm leadership of Akuffo-Addo. He is not reinventing the plot; he is retelling the party’s story to a new generation.

Despite his obvious pluses, Dr. Bawumia has come under barrage of attacks by his opponents as being inexperienced—a political neophyte. It is true that Ghanaians do not yet know how effective the Economist would prove himself as an active politician. What everybody, including his opponents know, however, is the man’s solid grasp of economic fundamentals of the country. Besides, does political experience in itself lead to good governance outcomes or actually impedes them?

Some pundits are of the view that having political experience actually tends to kill idealism by forcing candidates to conform to the often-toxic status quo. To quote H. Kwasi Prempeh, a Law Professor, “political experience gives [candidates] close familiarity with the tricks and loopholes in the system.” In a way, President Mahama vindicates the law Professor. As the most politically experienced and prepared president in the history of the nation, Mahama is also perceived by many as the worst performing president, at least in the Fourth Republic.

A PhD student at Northwestern University, Kofi Asante, also weighed in using the United States President, Barrack Obama, as an example. He wrote, “The appeal that Obama had was that he was a fresh face, in a sense, a non-establishment guy, he was not steeped in the bad old ways of partisanship, of big money, the lobbies etc.”

As a running mate to the experienced Akuffo-Addo, it is easy to see the transformational power that their collective leadership would unleash on the nation. This is the political equity that Dr. Bawumia brings to the party. He is helping to establish a significant and differentiated presence of the NPP in the political market place, helping to retain loyal party base and attracting new supporters.

When you visualize the NPP brand in 2015 under the current leadership, what do you see? Many people see smart policies, middle class growth, and economic transformation. Needless to say, Dr. Bawumia’s contribution to this branding can hardly be overemphasized.

By Kwame E. Bidi

Email: [email protected].

  1. Kwaku Yeboah, London says

    This article is one-sided and biased written just to shore up the dwindling credibility of Dr Bawumia outside the circle of NPP leaning members and sympathisers. Some of the so-called predictions are no predictions at all. Even a school boy can predict some of these events. Ghana has attained middle income status due to the oil discovery and the additional GDP the oil find brings and not the so-called superior economic performance of the Kuffour government. Dr Bawumia is intellectually dishonest and choses his data selectively sometimes comparing apples with oranges in order to achieve the skewed analysis he is trying to portray of the Ghanaian economy. Why did he not complain about statistical figures when he was Deputy ‘governor of the Bank of Ghana? The methodology for compilie the statistical data is still the same and those in charge are still those in charge when he worked at the Bank of Ghana except the government statistian who is new. Please give us a break

  2. Terry Oppong says

    We lack leadership in Ghana!! None of the people you mentioned have a clue of what it takes or what to do to truly being change about.


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