Mahamudu Bawumia looks like a happy man having roused the country to its feet since May. With all eyes on him, he has quietly choreographed the new face of party-political campaigns.

Mahamudu has asked his campaign team to shed arrogance, quit plush offices, and show respect to the masses that empowered them. He has also worked the minds of pedestrians; and for once, plush V8s and long convoys attract public boos.

Mahamudu’s campaign prospectus was simple knowing his party’s elitist history. ‘Drop arrogant convoys; bring along the long bus; leave your suits at home, your neckties, flashy footwear. Wear smart sneakers, sweatshirts, and jeans.

To top this, come with substantial reserves of stamina, and where necessary go a-borrowing for deep breaths. Be prepared for marathon walks across rugged terrains, open gullies, towns, hamlets, markets, bus stops, and congested spaces.

Bring along towels for sweat, and be ready for rough patches and stumbling among crowds in narrow corridors. Avoid heat stroke and rush to the bus if exhausted. Breaking the 8 is a long walk to freedom and development.’

For a party people with elite and lawyers that was a huge sacrifice, and it worked.

His new face of campaign softened hearts and stirred mammoth crowds, that stampeded to peer at him, touch him, do selfies and hear him speak, some of this happening in ‘enemy territory.’ As for handshakes, should a new slogan be coined it could well be: One week, one million handshakes.

It has also been great times for the youth, whose language Mahmoud speaks eloquently. His own age even speaks louder. A selfie with him is gold. His digital agenda is also a familiar world to the sprawling youths, and they are comfortable walking with him into the future.

I saw him beam with smiles across the country hobnobbing with kids, squatting to hug disabled, dancing Jama with students, playing the draughts game with locals, bowing to elders, and waving across distances.

The enthusiasm Mahamudu Bawumia has stirred in the midst of hard times should give him a sigh of relief. The signs clearly foretell a great future.

Deep down, however, Bawumia cannot be a happy man. The freedom to choose a running mate of his choice is under siege. For the first time in the history of his party, contestants have been openly announced by self-appointed electoral commissions, that release nominations in a trickle, and a hint of front liners, dark horses and dropouts; these have changed by the day.

Mahamudu’s recent tour of the Ashanti region was said to have been scheduled to drop the choice at the home front; grand celebrations had even been planned by optimists. This has been made worse by social media cheerleaders, accomplices and mercenaries who release screaming headlines of a choice which has ‘already’ been made.

Names have even been dropped ahead of a declaration which is still pending. Then come gender groups who at an eleventh hour have come with timely reminders. ‘You know we women are in the majority when it comes to voting, so Alhaji advise yourself, otherwise….’

Unfortunately, lobbying has now transmuted to blackmailing: ‘Pick our preference or else the Ashanti masses you dearly need, will turn their backs on you.’ The pre-choice of Ashanti as the agreed home of the running mate has gone further to preferred households and names.

Lobbying brigades are overworking, along with blackmailers who hint at dreadful consequences in ignoring preferred choices. Fliers and billboards are out juxtaposing Mahmoud’s image and those of a preferred candidate. Indeed the stage has been set for hell to break loose should one choice be made and others dropped. A split on the front party is imminent.

The sense of optimism originally glowing at Mahmoud’s campsite, was thus bound to dim; replaced overnight with a broken spirit as he headed back from Ashanti. Bawumia might be confronted with a peculiar plight hitherto unknown in the party’s history, which becomes more pronounced as we inch closer to his announcement.

As never before in the party’s history, tension and suspense await the declaration of a running mate; and we pray it does not lead to another postponement.

J.A Kufuor suffered no such plight; his choice of Aliu Mahama was quietly done on his own terms. Mahmoud’s own selection as running mate by Nana Akufo-Addo for the 2012 and 2016 elections, was without drama and suspense. Never any threat of fire and brimstone. What’s new?

Are we shifting the goalpost for a Tani flagbearer?

Have the rules changed? No, it’s rather the times. Tribalism has returned in another cloak. The great party has elders who should step in and boldly put the house in order. Huge gains made in the past year may dissipate in thin air should the choice of running mate be foisted on Mahmoud Bawumia.

The message should be simple. The party will respect their flagbearer and not denigrate his person or preference. Mahmoud should not be reminded of his status as Tani and make an exception to prevailing rules.

Having been duly elected as flagbearer, he has the right to even say, ‘I have made a decision; it’s One or even None of the Above.’

The open campaign for running mate, public name-dropping, blackmailing, and veiled display of tribalism must stop.

Council of Elders please step in and restore the party’s dignity.