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Monday, December 4, 2023

Dominic Obour: From obscurity to limelight – The rise of DMB

I remember talking to a friend recently. At the same time, it was obvious and baffling the extent to which some will go to denigrate the dignity and reputation of others. This friend referenced how an influential person once remarked to subordinates without any justification that my friend was “aimless and useless in life.” Ironically, this man, called “useless and aimless,” the proverbial stone rejected by the builders, became the cornerstone of the edifice.

The other day, I was on the phone with a long-lost friend from junior high school. Usually, reconnecting or catching up with someone like that prolongs the conversation. As we neared the end of our three hours of chitchat and reminiscing, I came away with one thing my friend shared: how the mouths she was feeding were biting the hands that fed them.

Though my rediscovered friend claimed to have moved on, I sensed from her voice that it was a profoundly painful development for her. It was sad how the people who received her kind-heartedness slandered her behind her back, spreading unfounded rumors about her, like “everything I touch gets burned and that I mess up every place I end up.”

That notwithstanding, I was glad she could chuckle at the end when she said, “Dom, they are not God. No one gave me a dog’s chance. But here I am. I guess they envy my shine and can’t fathom how to react to my shine. I hope they don’t go blind, hahaha.”

As I later pondered over these conversations, I could not help but remember that observers are not God and that the good Lord above, as impractical He is, continues to confound the machinations and the projections of the so-called wise and learned of this world.

Saturday, November 4, 2023, saw the election of H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, to lead the New Patriotic Party as the party’s flagbearer into the 2024 general elections. As I stayed glued to my iPad, keenly following the events culminating in his unveiling as the new leader of the ruling party of Ghana, I could not help but be bewildered by this man who shot from pure anonymity in 2007 when he was unveiled as the running mate to then Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo.

The duo would go on to lose a nail-biting election that year. Many thought that was the end of the Akuffo Addo–Bawumia dream. And even though they would again miss out on winning the next elections, the duo, together with the vociferous, tenacious supporters of the Great Elephant family, regrouped after the election petition of 2013 to win the 2016 general elections, with a record of a little of over a million votes.

Though any careful observer could not discount the pivotal role of the “Boy born in the heartland of Tamale, with a hometown in Walewale,” some dyed-in-the-wool skeptics, naysayers, and cynics continued to downplay his political clout and significance by consistently slighting his chances of one day leading the Great Elephant family. His Northern brother and leader of the opposition NDC, President John Mahama, in an interaction with some Northern brothers and sisters in days leading to the 2020 general elections, cast doubts over Dr. Bawumia ever leading what many wrongly perceive the NPP to be “All-Akan party.” Many in the NDC shared that belief. I am not here to resurface those false predictions.

In just over a week since DMB, as his supporters affectionately call Dr. Bawumia, won the NPP primaries, the cynics haven’t wasted any time undermining his credibility, disregarding the prowess and sheer competence of the great technocrat and vice president. Other factions within the NDC seek to discredit his religious standing as a devout Muslim while simultaneously extolling his profound interreligious dialogue.

Never in the history of Ghana has there been such direct attacks on someone’s religious affiliation. Having broken the tribal and ethnic myth and jinx, it is clear that the election of DMB has shaken the opposition and its apparatchiks. It became evident on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, on Metro T.V.’s Good Morning Ghana program. As if possessed by a demon, Sam “Gyata” George of the NDC, a man representing the Akatamanso in Ghana’s parliament, visibly shaken and emotionally imbalanced, took DMB to the cleaners for visiting Christian churches and allowing himself to receive a blessing by a Catholic priest. 

For a Gyata Man, the moves by DMB categorize him as a “religious prostitute.” Well, the less said, the better. If bridging the gap between people of diverse faiths and fostering peaceful religious coexistence is a taboo, then I don’t know where we are heading as a society.

It is evident that the critics of DMB haven’t devised any thought-out plan, let alone a well-thought-out one, to counter the election of DMD since his election as leader of Ghana’s leading party. The detractors are struggling to respond after DMB shattered the ethnic tag myth of the NPP a little over a week ago. His victory manifests that the detractors and the opposition are off their perch. So far, nothing has worked, and nothing they have thrown at DMB has stuck.

The earlier they regroup and come back with well-thought-out ideas to change the plight of the ordinary person struggling under the searing economic hardships, the better for the cynics. I am convinced that this is the only way the critics can counter the rising appeal of the DMB star. A few gave him a dog’s chance in 2007 as a running mate, and many shunned him in 2012, but President Akuffo Addo kept faith in him, though from the standpoint of a political campaign, the 2007/8 version of DMB was a clear neophyte. And yet, since then, the trajectory of the rise of DMB has been meteoric. DMB is, without a doubt, the man of the moment, and he seems to have a great array of arsenals at his disposal for the battle ahead.

With the economy slightly recovering, the Ghana cedi starting to hold its own against the U.S. Dollar and major world currencies, with a united Elephant family, well-oiled campaign machinery, and with H.E. Samira Bawumia, the wife of DMB, leading the chorus and chants of breaking the eight, the elevation of the DMB star is a great testament to how the Lord above continues to confound human wisdom to raise an insignificant individual into the limelight of royalty. It gives us all the hope to dream, hope, live, and fight to achieve whatever we put our minds to, no matter the chorus of impossibilities. Yes, indeed, IT IS POSSIBLE. 

Almost everyone in political circles these days is talking about the 2024 general elections being won or lost on the state of the economy; and rightly so. But having followed politics with a keen interest for over almost a quarter of a century now, I humbly submit that the election of DMB has completely changed the dynamics of the 2024 elections.

While not rubbishing the conclusions of astute politicians and political researchers, I dare posit that the 2024 elections will be won or lost on credibility of the candidates, the quality of each campaign’s communication strategies and tactics (the party that can communicate simply, concisely, and intelligibly to the ordinary person on the street) as well as churn massively voters in their strongholds will determine the winner of the elections.

With the election of DMB, the scales have tilted in the five northern regions and the Zongo communities in favor of DMB and his NPP; and I won’t be surprised at all should DMB end up winning more votes from the north and the Zongos.

By: Dominic Obour

Ghanaian American, currently living in Southern California

Email: [email protected]

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