The third time was the charm for former Baylor economic professor Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia as he was elected the vice president of Ghana in a landslide election.
“I’d first of all say I’m just excited for Ghana,” said Dr. Stephen Gardner, Herman Brown professor of economics and director of the McBride Center for International Business. “He’s a very bright guy who has a very good understanding of economic development, and I think he has a good understanding of what is needed to improve the situation.”
Gardner was the chair of the search committee that hired Bawumia at Baylor in 1996. Gardner said he has kept up with Bawumia and, when possible, stayed in contact with him during the years since he left Baylor.
Bawumia was a professor at Baylor from 1996 until 2000. Gardner said Bawumia was a tenure-track assistant professor here and was making very good progress toward attaining tenure.
Gardner said Bawumia was a popular teacher in the department, and students enjoyed his class. Bawumia won the Hankamer Young Researcher Award in 1998 and wrote the chapter about Africa and the African economy for Gardner’s Comparative Economic Systems textbook.
“When Bawumia gave a sample lecture during his interview, we invited a bunch of students to come to that lecture, and the reactions from the students were very positive. That played a big role in our hiring him in the first place,” Gardner said. “As that would indicate, he became a popular faculty member during the time he was here, so I was sad when he left. But as it turns out, his going back to Ghana has made it possible for him to follow this path to the vice presidency.”
Upon returning to Ghana in 2000, Bawumia became the research director for the Bank of Ghana. In 2006, he became deputy governor of the Bank. Bawumia chose to return to Ghana in order to take the position at the bank and be together with his family.
In 2008, the New Patriotic Party of Ghana (NPP) had served its full term and chose a new representative, Nana Akufo Addo, to be the NPP presidential candidate. Addo faced a difficult decision in choosing who his vice presidential candidate would be as there were two factions in the party competing with each other. Addo ultimately decided to choose an academic without a political background, which is where Bawumia came in, as a candidate with strong economic and technical skills.
In a fairly close 2008 election, this duo lost, and they lost again in 2012. This past year, 2016, was the third run for Addo and Bawumia and proved victorious as they won with 54 percent of the vote. Gardner said Bawumia is a candidate that entered the scene in 2008 with no political background but has since continued to be the NPP vice presidential candidate, has traveled all over Ghana, met people and played an important role in representing the NPP.
“As a business student, I think it’s awesome that someone who is economically informed has the opportunity to influence and lead a country,” Fallbrook, Calif., junior Leila Rohde said.
A September 2013 article in the Ghanian Chronicle said Bawumia is an economic guru who distinguished himself in the election petition. The article also said that supporters of Addo are hoping that the 2016 period will be a time to market Bawumia to establish himself as a possible presidential candidate in the following elections.
“Other Ghanians I’ve spoken to, both here and there, have been very optimistic that he is going to be able to play an important role in economic policy and getting Ghana on a better economic track,” Gardner said.