By Prince Ibrahim

NDC’s presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama
NDC’s presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama
In the grand chessboard of Ghanaian politics, strategic foresight is often the harbinger of victory. John Mahama, the astute leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has demonstrated a masterful application of this principle, setting a political trap that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) walked into,
seemingly with eyes wide open.

Mahama’s prescience was on full display when he publicly conjectured that the NPP, perceived traditionally as an Akan-dominated party, would not elevate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, a Northerner and a Muslim, to its flagbearership. It was a statement laced with reverse psychology—a term coined by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, which refers to the act of saying or doing something to convey a meaning
opposite to the literal one.

Mahama’s move was akin to a grandmaster in a game of chess, where each move is calculated to lead the opponent into a pre-set trap.

However, the NPP, in their recent presidential primaries sought to overturn this narrative. At the result declaration rally in the Accra Sports Stadium, Lawyer Justin Frimpong Kodua (JFK) celebrated the election of Dr. Bawumia as their flagbearer, proclaiming it a historic moment that shattered the stereotypes Mahama had alluded to.

To quote him, he said “Not long ago someone in this country made a statement, that when it comes to the New Patriotic Party, there is no way a person from the north can ever become a flagbearer of our party. But today, what has happened?”

Frimpong asked, to which the crowd responded with chants of “history, history, history!”

JFK’s assertive continuation, “The NPP can no more and never be tagged as an Akan party because today we have a flagbearer who comes from the northern part of the country”, was a bold declaration of the NPP’s evolved national character.

This decision, however, may have been a pyrrhic victory. Dr. Bawumia, despite his academic and professional credentials as an Economic wizard, has become entangled with the current government’s economic misadventures. His popularity as an Economist has waned, and his credibility as an honest politician questioned due to many unfulfilled promises that have left the Ghanaian populace in a state of disillusionment.

President Akufo-Addo’s admission of economic hardships under his administration has done little to salvage the situation. Dr. Bawumia, as the face of the economic team, cannot dissociate himself from these failures. The Ghanaian electorate’s memory is long, and the litany of unmet promises will undoubtedly be at the forefront of their minds as they approach the ballot box come December 2024.

The NPP, in their eagerness to counteract Mahama’s narrative, may have overlooked the strategic elements of their candidate selection. They chose a figure deeply intertwined with governance failures, rather than a fresh face potentially unburdened by the past. This oversight could be the Achilles heel in
their campaign for the national elections.

Despite his background as an economist, the tangible benefits of his policies and role in government have been elusive for the average citizen. Inflation rates, currency depreciation, and unemployment figures have become more than mere statistics; they are lived experiences that have eroded the public’s trust.

As the NPP’s newly minted flagbearer, Dr. Bawumia carries the weight of these economic disappointments into the election—a burden that is too heavy to carry into victory.

John Mahama, on the other hand, stands on the opposite end of the spectrum. With a commendable record from his previous tenure and the advantage of hindsight, he is poised to campaign not on promises, but on concrete achievements. The contrast between the two candidates could not be starker: one laden with the baggage of unfulfilled promises, the other with a trove of tangible accomplishments.

Mahama’s strategic maneuvering has positioned him as a political savant, one step ahead of the NPP. By nudging the NPP towards a candidate who may struggle to defend the government’s track record, Mahama has effectively tilted the electoral scales in his favor.

As Ghana inches closer to the 2024 elections, the NPP’s choice of Dr. Bawumia stands as a testament to Mahama’s political shrewdness. In the high-stakes game of political predictions and maneuvers, Mahama has shown that he is not just participating—he is orchestrating. The NPP, in their bid to prove him wrong, may have inadvertently provided him with the perfect foil for his campaign.

In conclusion, John Mahama’s foresight and understanding of political psychology have set the stage for what could be a defining moment in Ghana’s democratic journey. By leveraging the NPP’s response to his challenge, he has not only cleared the path for his potential return but has also affirmed his position
as a formidable opposition leader.

The NPP’s decision, while aimed at disproving Mahama’s prediction, may have unwittingly played right into the narrative he crafted—a narrative that could very well lead him back to the presidency in any free and fair election.

The writer, Prince Ibrahim, is an MPhil Operations Management student at the University of Ghana Business School.