In the lead-up to the upcoming 2024 elections in Ghana, the religious backgrounds of the two prominent candidates, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), have become a focal point of discussion among commentators and supporters alike. Dr. Bawumia, a Muslim and the current Vice President, stands in contrast to John Dramani Mahama, a Christian and former President. However, it is essential to emphasize that the religious affiliations of these candidates should not overshadow the crucial factors that truly matter in leadership.
As a Reverend Minister and Journalist, I assert that merging tribalism, ethnicity, and religion with politics is a perilous path for Ghana’s struggling democracy. The divisive consequences of intertwining these factors have the potential to fracture the nation’s unity and undermine the democratic ideals that Ghanaians hold dear.
In any thriving democracy, competence should be the paramount consideration when electing leaders. The skills, qualifications, and vision that a candidate brings to the table are the true indicators of their capability to govern effectively. A candidate’s religious beliefs should be a private matter, irrelevant to their ability to lead and serve the diverse populace.
Let us not forget the lessons of history, particularly the perilous consequences when religion and politics collide. Across the African continent, we have witnessed instances where religious affiliations were exploited to fuel division and conflict. One striking example is the Nigerian Civil War, where ethnic and religious differences exacerbated political tensions, leading to a devastating conflict. Ghana, with its rich history of peaceful transitions of power, must not tread down a similar path.
Ghana’s democracy is at a critical juncture, and we must prioritize competence over creed. The dangers of injecting religion into the political arena are manifold, ranging from fostering discrimination to sowing seeds of discord among citizens. Our focus should be on fostering unity, embracing diversity, and upholding the democratic values that have made Ghana a beacon of stability on the continent.
In conclusion, I implore Ghanaians to rise above religious considerations in the electoral process. Competence, integrity and a commitment to the common good should be the benchmarks by which we measure our leaders. Let us learn from the mistakes of others, recognizing that the true strength of Ghana’s democracy lies in its ability to transcend the divisive forces of religion, ethnicity, and tribalism. Together, we can build a nation that thrives on unity, progress, and the shared values that bind us as one people.
Kofi Asante Mensah
Reverend Minister (UTM) and Journalist (UPDN)