Ghana’s would-be leaders lining up behind Akufo-Addo

By Kent Mensah
Posted on Friday, 28 January 2022 08:07

President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is juggling a security crisis in West Africa after three military coups in the region while his economic team tries to drag Ghana out of a debt and deficit crisis in the wake of the pandemic.

You might think the last thing he has time for would be internal party politics. That might be why he told all those in his government who hope to succeed him when he leaves office in 2024 to resign now. That would, he argued, allow them to focus on their personal political ambition.

So far there has not been a deafening stampede towards the exit door. Either the president’s colleagues have been struck by uncharacteristic shyness or they are putting their political plans on hold.

Meanwhile, we offer you The Africa Report guide to the five frontrunners in the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) who are topped to vie for the leadership after Akufo-Addo

DR MAHAMUDU BAWUMIA

He is a true loyalist of Akufo-Addo. He lost two previous national elections as running mate of Akufo-Addo (2008 and 2012) before the pair won on their third attempt in 2016. A former deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, Bawumia is seen as the busiest vice president since 1992. He has been at the forefront of the government’s digitalisation agenda. Popular, modest and a committed Muslim, Bawumia is known for his enthusiasm for inter-faith dialogue and humanitarian efforts.

Insiders say he is well-placed to make history as the first vice president to have become a presidential candidate of a major political party if he wins the primaries.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Emir of Kano Mohammed Sanusi Lamido II recently endorsed him:“I will like to join all of you in testifying that you have in him (Bawumia) a great leader with great potential. And these are the kind of leaders that we need on this continent,” Sanusi Lamido II said when he visited Ghana.

ALAN ‘CASH’ KYEREMATEN

An ambassador to the U.S. when the NPP came into office in 2001, Kyerematen was a founding member of the party. He served as trade minister in 2003 and holds the same cabinet position under Akufo-Addo’s administration. He championed the wearing of made-in-Ghana attire on Fridays to work to promote national culture.

On three occasions (2007, 2010 and 2014) he had a shot at the presidency but lost to Akufo-Addo on all occasions in the party’s primaries. He was a trade advisor at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before returning to Ghana. He is wealthy but popular with the grasroots and has a powerful political network.

JOE GHARTEY

The lawmaker has been instrumental in helping the NPP to amend its constitution over the years. A veteran lawyer, he served in the same law firm with Akufo-Addo before leaving to establish his own with his wife in 1994. The 60-year-old helped the Parliament of Sierra Leone to draft a code of conduct.

He has served as a second deputy speaker of Ghana’s Parliament. Ghartey once served as attorney general and was also minister of railways in Akufo-Addo’s first term. Prior to the 2016 elections, he contested the presidential primaries but withdrew his candidature to throw his support for Akufo-Addo.

OWUSU AFRIYIE AKOTO

A close associate of Nana Akufo-Addo, he is another wealthy cabinet minister who has met with the party’s delegates on several occasions to push his agenda. That’s despite the ban on formal campaigning for.

He serves as Akufo-Addo’s agriculture minister and has championed policies aimed at self-sufficiency and producing more local food under initiatives such as ‘Planting for food and jobs’. A former MP, Akoyo used to work with the World Bank as a consultant on soft commodities. Something of an Anglophile, he studied economics at Cambridge University and worked in London for more than a decade before returning to Ghana.

Boakye Agyarko

In 2018, Akufo-Addo sacked him as his energy minister in connection with a complex scandal over power deal. Some describe Agyarko as the fall-guy who has discreetly kept silent on the truth of the affair to protect his colleagues.

At 66, he has a wealth of business experience:he is a past vice president of the Bank of New York after fleeing to the US from Ghana as as a political dissident in the 1980s. He returned home after 22 years to contest elections in Ghana. In 2012, Agyarko was the national campaign manager of the NPP and was policy advisor to Akufo-Addo during the 2016 elections. Some think he deserves a reward for his diplomatic discretion.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options