As the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), I find it imperative to address a critical issue that has recently dominated our political discourse in Ghana. The election of Dr Bawumia as the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in their 2023 presidential primaries has sparked a debate that transcends individual personalities and delves into the heart of our democratic principles – the issue of religious tokenism and its impact on our political fabric.

In 2007, during a discussion with a US embassy official, I expressed concerns about the trend in Ghanaian politics where certain appointments seemed more a ploy for votes than a reflection of genuine inclusivity. This was not a critique of individual capabilities but a commentary on a systemic issue. At the time, I analyzed the upcoming NPP presidential primaries and contrasted the succession trends of the NDC and NPP, especially regarding Vice Presidents becoming presidential candidates.

I noted that while the NDC, exemplified by Vice President Mills succeeding President Rawlings, followed other global patterns of Vice Presidents ascending to the presidency, this was not the case with the NPP. I argued that the NPP's selection of Aliu Mahama as Vice President in 2000 was more a strategic move just to attract votes from Northern and Muslim communities than a genuine endorsement of his leadership potential. I predicted that the NPP would Jettison Aliu Mahama after the tenure of President Kuffour, reflecting a pattern of regional and religious tokenism rather than a genuine commitment to true representation and inclusivity in our body politics just as it happened in 2007.

Religious tokenism, as I have long maintained, is a practice where political parties make appointments based on religious affiliations primarily as a strategy to garner votes, rather than based on merit and genuine belief in the individual's capability to lead. This approach not only undermines the integrity of the political process but also does a disservice to the individuals appointed under such pretences. It creates a facade of diversity and inclusion, while in reality, perpetuating a cycle of superficial representation.

The repercussions of religious tokenism in Ghana's democracy are profound. It breeds cynicism among the electorate, erodes trust in political institutions, and perpetuates a culture of superficiality over substance. When political parties engage in tokenism, they reduce the complex fabric of Ghanaian society to simplistic binaries, ignoring the rich diversity of our nation. This practice can lead to polarization, where communities feel used rather than genuinely represented.

Conversely, genuine inclusivity has the power to transform our political landscape. When political decisions and appointments are made based on merit, capability, and a sincere intent to serve the diverse needs of our people, it enriches our democracy. It fosters a sense of belonging and representation among all Ghanaians, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. This approach not only strengthens the fabric of our democracy but also ensures that the best and brightest minds are at the helm of our nation's affairs, irrespective of their religious affiliations.

The recent election of Dr. Bawumia as the NPP's presidential candidate certainly invites a deeper examination of the party's real intent. One must ponder, is the choice of Dr Bawumia genuinely rooted in his merit, economic acumen, and appeal, or are there other, less apparent factors at play? Could it be that the true sentiment within the core of the NPP, stripped of the influence of government machinery and resources currently at Dr. Bawumia's disposal as Vice President, might have leaned towards a different candidate?

How much did the backing of the establishment, with its considerable resources and influence, sway the decision in his favour? Is this a calculated move to counter opposition narratives or to project an image of inclusivity, rather than a reflection of genuine belief in Dr. Bawumia's leadership? Sooner than later, the true intent behind the NPP's choice of Dr Bawumia will become increasingly apparent, potentially revealing motivations that go beyond the surface-level justifications currently being presented.

As Ghana continues to evolve as a democracy, we must embrace a political culture that values genuine inclusivity and representation. This is not just the responsibility of political parties but of every Ghanaian who dreams of a nation that truly reflects the diversity and potential of its people. We must move beyond tokenistic gestures and build a political environment where every individual is valued for their competence and potential to contribute to national development.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has consistently, over the past demonstrated a commitment to genuine inclusivity focused on merit and capability. We believe in the potential of every Ghanaian to contribute meaningfully to our nation's development, and our choices are a testament to this belief. As the General Secretary of the NDC, I reaffirm our party's dedication to this principle.

We will continue to advocate for a political culture that transcends religious tokenism, one that embodies the spirit of inclusivity, representing the rich diversity of Ghana in its truest form. This truly is the bedrock upon which a thriving democracy is built, and it is the legacy we must strive to leave for future generations of Ghanaians.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

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