Sharing Political Posts According to Religion will not Benefit Muslims, Alhaji Bawumia
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
May 1, 2016
It is a dangerous mix – that is, mixing religion with politics. I thought the man was much smarter than that. The story goes like this: On an electioneering campaign stumps in the East Sissala District of the Upper-West region, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, was reported to have criticized the leadership of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) for skewing the distribution of power at the Flagstaff House against members of non-Christian religious groups in the country (See “Flagstaff House Religiously Skewed – Bawumia” Starrfmonline.com /Ghanaweb.com 5/1/16).
Ordinarily, I would have promptly jumped in to support the former Deputy-Governor of the Bank of Ghana. But in this instance, the Oxbridge-educated technocrat recently turned politician went a bit overboard. Where I would agree with Dr. Bawumia regards the incontrovertible fact that the history of the NDC vis-à-vis the selection of Muslims as either Presidential or Vice-Presidential Candidates leaves much to be desired, in particular where the top of the ticket has been occupied by an ethnic Ewe. Which is why one finds it nothing short of the patently hypocritical and even downright offensive whenever the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, or the Hajj, comes around and the leaders of the NDC jump ahead of their counterparts from the other political parties, especially operatives of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, to take charge of the organization of Ghanaian Muslims for the trip.
The Ewe-minted National Democratic Congress is also thoroughgoing anti-Northerners. One can readily recall vigorous attempts made by Chairman Jerry John Rawlings, and his wife, to prevent the now-President John Dramani Mahama from pairing up with then-Candidate John Evans Atta-Mills, late, and the latter’s running-mate in the lead-up to Election 2008. The reason given then was that John Mahama could not be trusted. We were not told just what form of “trust” the Rawlingses had in mind or on whose terms the relative concept of “trust” was to be reckoned or envisaged.
They may feign denial, but much of the harassment of President John Mahama by the Rawlingses has a lot to do with the former’s ethnicity than his widely alleged gross administrative incompetence. For when push comes to shove, as New Yorkers are wont to say, there is absolutely no qualitative difference between the erstwhile Rawlings-led National Democratic Congress that took Ghanaians to HIPC and the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress that has effectively carried us to the threshold of HIPC. This is no sheer happenstance: John Mahama is the veritable political product of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings.
At any rate, the issue in discussion here is far more complex than Alhaji Bawumia makes it seem to be because the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian citizens describe themselves as Christians, with just under 18-percent of Ghanaian citizens calling themselves Muslims. Specifically, and statistically, speaking, 71-percent of Ghanaians, according to the latest available census figures, call themselves Christians. If we add up the percentage of non-Christians who have been educated by Christian-oriented missionary schools, including Alhaji Bawumia himself, the “practical” percentages of Ghanaian Muslims and non-Christian Ghanaians would be even less.
But what I really want to underscore here is the fact that other than the Republic of Senegal, under the tenure of President Leopold Sedar Senghor, in absolutely no predominantly Muslim country on the African continent – we may, perhaps, also make a tangential or minor exception of Gabon – would a minority Muslim community be afforded the sort of political balance that Muslims enjoy among the rank-and-file membership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). My real objective here, of course, is to bring to the attention of Alhaji Bawumia that mere numbers often do not tell the entire story.
In other words, balancing the leadership slots alternately between Christians and Muslims does not automatically guarantee that when it comes to the equitable distribution of the proverbial national cake, the adherents of these two globally dominant organized religions would also be afforded their fair share. Then, of course, we also have to take into account the just over 10-percent of Ghanaians who do not claim any cultural affiliation with either major Hebraic or Jewish-based religions.
His argument for political balance and social justice would have carried even more weight, or heft, if Alhaji Bawumia had also provided his audience with a statistical breakdown in the distribution of executive power at the Flagstaff House, besides the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency. What is undeniable about the distribution of power in the National Democratic Congress, and upon which the leaders of the New Patriotic Party could effectively seize to highlight the glaring fact that the Rawlings-minted party machine is inescapably a tribal party in ways that cannot be either accurately or honestly said of the New Patriotic Party, is the fact that it took nearly twenty years for the top nomination tickets of the NDC to shift its perennial balance of monopoly between Ewes and Fantes. And here, of course, I am thinking about the 2004 pairing of Alhaji Mumuni with Candidate Atta-Mills.
And now what we have, in terms of power balance at the Flagstaff House, may be aptly termed as the Gonja-Fante balance. The goal posts have not significantly altered their locations. The rest of the most important cabinet portfolios are still heavily skewed in favor of Ewes and Fantes. Which may partly explain President Mahama’s GYEEDA, SUBAH and SADA capers. Still, I don’t fathom religious nitpicking to be one of the most effective electioneering campaign tools. Ethnicity offers a far better frame of reference by which to effectively gauge the extent to which either major political party is committed to the equitable distribution of our national resources.
Ghana is decidedly a Christian-majority country that staunchly recognizes the equal rights of members of non-Christian religious groups. We must equally make it possible for members of non-Christian and non-Muslim religious minorities who demonstrate aptitudes and the requisite leadership skills for acceding to the presidency on merit, and not merely based on the statistical magnitude of their institutional or religious affiliations.
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