Ghana’s governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has made a historic choice, selecting Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia as its presidential candidate for the upcoming 2024 elections.
This decision marks a significant milestone, as Bawumia will be the first northerner and Muslim to contest the presidency under the NPP’s banner since the return of multi-party democracy in 1992.
In his victory speech, Mr. Bawumia expressed his commitment to lead a “united and energized” NPP into the upcoming election. His victory in the primaries was convincing, securing 61.47% of the vote, while his nearest rival, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, garnered 37.4% of the vote and accepted defeat.
Incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo, a member of the NPP, will be stepping down after the December 2024 elections, having served two terms in office. The upcoming election is anticipated to be a closely contested two-horse race between Mr. Bawumia and former President John Mahama, who is the flagbearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Notably, both major political parties have chosen northerners as their presidential candidates, with Mr. Mahama also hailing from the northern region. This is the first time both parties have fielded northerners in their presidential bids.
The NPP’s traditional stronghold is considered to be in southern Ghana, while the north has been a stronghold for the NDC. By selecting Mr. Bawumia, the NPP aims to bridge geographical divides, hoping he can gain support in the north while maintaining the party’s backing in the south.
As head of the government’s economic management team, Mr. Bawumia faces the challenge of convincing voters to elect him and grant the NPP a third term in power. Ghana, a major producer of gold and cocoa, is grappling with its most severe economic crisis in decades, characterized by soaring government debt. To mitigate the crisis, Ghana secured a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Inflation hit a record 54% in December the previous year but has since declined to around 38%. The government has implemented measures like raising utility tariffs and introducing new taxes, leading to widespread public discontent and prompting protests organized by opposition and youth groups.
Despite these economic challenges, Mr. Bawumia expressed optimism and confidence in his acceptance speech to NPP delegates. He declared, “We know that the NPP is the only party that can transform Ghana. The NPP will enter 2024 united and energized.”