If my NDC sources prove as unimpeachable this week as I have previously found them, I can boldly declare that at long last, the internal NDC battle has ended and that Ghana, our beloved country, now has a running mate for John Dramani Mahama.
This running mate has brains. He has a tongue that bites and soothes. He also has, in equal measure, the temperaments of an introvert and a (mild) extrovert. Above all, his wife will confirm that he is a sweetheart.
He is Professor Kwesi Botchwey, the longest serving Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Ghana.
As at last Monday when a Deep Throat within NDC made the phone call to me, the party was in the “final” stages of the consultative process: that of getting party founder, Jerry John Rawlings, to wave his flywhisk over the Professor’s head and, for the first time in 13 years, smile with his former appointee.
Ghanaians older than 1982 haven’t forgotten that after 12 years of service under Rawlings, relations between him and Dr Botchwey were far from warm.
Some time in 1994, Rawlings travelled to the United States. Someone within the Castle whispered to Dr Botchwey that the former President intended to announce his (Botchwey’s) dismissal from America in a day or two. Quickly the Professor moved. He secured the front page of the then most feared newspaper in Ghana, ‘The Ghanaian Chronicle’, to out-smart his boss. The front page of the paper screamed, “Kwesi Botchwey Resigns”.
The dismissal itself would have come as no surprise to not a few Ghanaians. Relations had been on ice for some time, especially from the time when Rawlings started openly describing his friend, Tsatsu Tsikata – and not his Economy Minister, Botchwey – as an economic wizard. It is also speculated that Rawlings knew about the rumoured amorous relations between his Finance Minister and the then Canadian High Commissioner, a female.
All of above, and more, explain why it has today become imperative for the NDC to secure a smile from Rawlings.
In those days when budget reading was the platform to announce price increases, particularly for petrol, everybody’s hardships were traced to Kwesi Botchwey. In his day, as Finance Minister, Ghana got introduced to IMF acronyms.
Under the much hated ERP (Economic Recovery Programme) that gave birth to SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) so severe was the resultant social disequilibrium in the personal economies of Ghanaians that Botchwey introduced the dreaded PAMSCAD (Programme of Actions to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustments).
Very tough for any Finance Minister. That explains why I, for one, found it hard to believe that there could be anything between him and the woman at the Canadian High Commission. But, of course, a psychiatrist convinced me that in that position, anybody would want to release tension – the reason why club and national team managers now allow girl-friends to visit with male footballers in their hotel in the week of nail-biting tournaments.
Terrible memories, but every honest Ghanaian who knew Dr Botchwey will testify that he is competent, respected internationally and revered in NDC where his judgement carries weight; no wonder, the party appointed him to head the 13-member committee that assessed its 2016 ignominious electoral defeat.
It goes to the credit of JDM that after all the nasty revelations and comments contained in the Kwesi Botchwey Committee’s 65-page Executive Summary, including the accusation that he (Mahama) “lived a life of a movie star”, the former President has found it in his heart to extend grace to the Professor. It also says much for JDM’s confidence level and management abilities that should he win, he will have, as his second in command, somebody to whom he himself should have been running mate.
As is to be expected, some party insiders question the wisdom in the professor’s choice. They point out that he is Fante, like his immediate predecessor, Amissah-Arthur; that the feelings of people in the party’s World Bank could have been assuaged by the choice of a Voltarian.
Their choice was Zanetor Rawlings, who they say, would have killed three birds with one shot, being, also female, a shot that could have warmed her father, Jerry John Rawlings, to Mahama’s side. Remember that Rawlings has predicted a loss for JDM in 2020. Many, however, are those who fear that Zanetor’s choice would have retched up rotten memories. People would have started asking who paid her fees in medical school overseas.
The first choice of those rooting for the female ticket had been Professor Naana Opoku Agyeman. Very competent woman, they say, but they fear that NPP will remind floating voters that she was signatory to the petition inAugust 2016 asking then President Mahama to pardon the Montie 3 who had been jailed for statements deemed to be contemptuous of the Supreme Court.
How will Professor Botchwey, with his international clout and legal reputation, deal with a situation in which Mahama is officially accused of complicity in the Airbus scandal?
Enimil Ashon is a prolific writer, political commentator and analyst.
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