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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Columnist: Haruna Iddrisu

Candidate John Mahama is different from the others – Here is why

Over the weekend, His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama resorted to divisive and ethnocentric campaign language in campaigning in the Upper West region.

His comments were in bad taste and deserved condemnation, and so condemnations we did. Predictably, supporters of the NDC were not happy so they started firing the usual ‘politics of equalisation’ bullets.

They go like: “Where were you when Akufo-Addo and Osafo Marfo said Yen Akan fo?” “Where were you when Kennedy Agyepong said Ewes and Gas should be attacked?” They ask these questions as if they were not in this country to witness the massive public condemnation of those divisive, ethnocentric comments. The public condemnations were so massive such that the authors of those ethnocentric comments got confused with some disowning their own voices.

So my answer to them has been that I was in this country, Ghana our motherland. And I witnessed the massive and apt public disapproval of those comments made by the aforementioned NPP folks. So I think and hope that those people shamefully realised how their vocal cavities had betrayed them. And I thought that such comments had been penned down in our national register of taboo words.

Of course, it is fact that the comical political weapon called ‘politics of equalisation’ is always deployed by both NDC and NPP apparatchiks when they are found wanting. Unfortunately for those apostles and believers of ‘politics of equalisation,’ that weapon loses its potency when fired at some of us who believe that wrong is wrong, right is right.

Now, here is the thing. There are seven candidates in this year's Presidential race. All of them are candidates aspiring for the same position – the Presidency. They are all Ghanaian adults of sound mind competing for the same position as a matter of right.

So they are all Presidential candidates, no doubt about it. However, something else makes one of the candidates different from the others. That one candidate has additional rights and privileges. That one person is candidate John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

What makes the NDC Presidential candidate different is not because he is a Northner; not because he is a Gonja, not because he looks handsome and not because he is the candidate of the political party called NDC, founded by the strongman called Jerry Rawlings. It is because he is also our President, the leader of our nation and Commander in Chief of our Armed forces. This is what makes candidate Mahama different from the other candidates.

So yes, they are all Presidential candidates but they are not equal. That is why for example, when the police announced that they will assign four police officers to every Presidential candidate for protection that did not apply to the NDC Presidential candidate. The NDC's Presidential candidate cannot just have four policemen as his security guard. No, he is the President of the Republic.

That is why while other Presidential candidates travel round the country campaigning with four or so assigned policeman, candidate Mahama goes round campaigning with state vehicles equipped with security features, police motorcades, dozens of policemen and military personnel, and intelligence officers.

It is because he is not just a Presidential candidate like Kwesi Nduom, Ivor Greenstreet or Nana Akufo-Addo. He is the President of the Republic, the number one citizen of the land; the one in whom the security of our nation and its people is entrusted; the one who swore to defend all of us and our constitution.

So fact is, at this particular moment and until he ceases to be President, John Dramani Mahama has no equal in this country. That is the fact. Indeed, if the candidates were equal and deserved equal treatment and privileges, why are the other candidates not going round doing their campaigning with police motorcades, state vehicles, and dozens of police and military men? Is it because they are less Ghanaian or less qualified? No. It is because they are not the President. There can be only one President at a time and this time, John Mahama is the President.

Thus for those arguing that candidate John Mahama is a Presidential candidate just as the others, I say to you, that cannot be correct. He is different. He is or must be an embodiment of our nation, our ideals and our values. He is the father (or if you like the mother) of the nation. This is why what the President says and does is of extreme importance and cannot be necessarily equated to what others say and do. He is the only one who can order our military to go to war even from a campaign platform.

Of course, if any Presidential candidate or even any individual makes divisive and ethnocentric comments we have to condemn them. So far, the people that the MFWA has named and shamed in its language monitoring reports for using inappropriate campaign language has not included a Presidential candidate.

So if inappropriate campaign language from serial callers, party activists, communicators and foot soldiers are of concern, then such language from the President of the Republic should even be of more concern. This is because the additional privileges and rights conferred on the President come with additional responsibilities.

Acts and comments of the President must be worth emulating. The president must seek to unite us for development rather than divide us for votes. At the end of the day, the President should be seeking to lead a united Ghana, not a divided one. We are all Ghanaians first. That is the solid foundation Kwame Nkrumah laid for us and we must build on it rather than destroy it.

The President has no equal. His actions should not be equated to those who are not equal to him. He must be the one correcting the wrongs not the one perpetrating them. He must be the example of good campaign language. President Mahama’s campaign comments in Lawra were ethnocentric, divisive and condemnable. Period!!