Ghana's ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) unveiled an economist, Mahamadu Bawumia as its vice presidential candidate yesterday (Sunday) ahead of the general elections this year. Until his appointment, Bawumia was the deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana. But his appointment is generating lots of controversy as some partisan stalwarts of the ruling party out rightly rejected the move and warned party executives of a possible loss to main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party in the general elections.

Some political analysts say the reaction among Ghanaians is one of surprise as Bawumia is relatively unknown in Ghanaian politics. Vladimir Antwi-danso is a political science professor at the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA) of the University of Ghana. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Accra that the choice of Bawumia is a significant strategic move that could potentially yield good political capital during this year's general elections.

"Personally, the choice of Dr. Bawumia came as a big surprise, but be it as it may, I think Nana Addo Danquah Akuffu-Addo (presidential candidate of the ruling NPP looked at the terrain and a possible choice that can help him sustain the economy. Basically, this government has been able to maintain the macro economic stability and that is something everybody in the international community is lauding. As a result, Nana Akuffu-Addo was looking for a technocrat and he chanced on Mahamadu who is relatively unknown, and I think Nana wanted to use Mumuni Bawumia's popularity and his clout over there in the north of the country and garner some votes in the north where the NPP is a little weak," Antwi-danso pointed out.

He said the party's choice of Bawumia is a smart move that would generate some excitement at the political base.

"If you ask me, I will say that this is a very positive choice because in Ghana today for the sustenance of the macro economic stability, for the sustenance of moving ahead from what we have achieved so far, we need technocrats to be part of governance," he said.

Antwi-danso said there have been a few partisans of the ruling party who are strongly opposed to the choice of Bawumia as the vice presidential candidate ahead of the general election.

"These are one or two errant MP's (Members of Parliament) who are opposed to this. I hear Kennedy Agyepong and Appiah Ofori also making some unsavory remarks. These are the only two persons who have really come out boldly to sort of really oppose the choice. The NPP has a kind of character many people don't know. They can fight; they can bicker among themselves, but at the last stage they always know that coming together is something very good for them for the winning of any election," Antwi-danso noted.

He said the presidential candidate of the ruling party was able to explain why he chose the economist as his vice presidential pick.

"From what I have heard from my friends in the NPP, I think Nana Akuffu- Addo was able to convince the national executive committee of the party why that choice is very important and it was really very unanimous. And I tell you the NPP will rally behind the candidate no matter what. In Ghana, we vote on party lines mostly, not on personalities and issues," he said.

Antwi-danso said the ruling NPP is the party to beat in this year's general elections.

"I strongly suspect that the NPP is way ahead of any other political party. The NDC (main opposition) has not been able to recast itself into any new mode; they have no new issues and they have not really repacked themselves beyond that. The rest of the parties are also ranked, and I don't see the NPP having any very serious opposition in the elections. Having said that I must be quick to add that they (NPP) have also not been able to articulate the good things they have done. I really understand that the NPP has done very well, but I tell you the Ghanaian neo-patrimonial type of governance is such that the ordinary people don't understand them. So, I can foresee a situation where there can be a run-off, but a runoff in which I think the NPP will still win," Antwi-danso pointed out.