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Opinions of Thursday, 19 January 2017

Columnist: Suayam, Simon

Hajia Alima Mahama, the woman with many lovable parts.

In a move that clearly indicates the speed with which president Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo wants to hasten the development of Ghana under his leadership, he has so far finished the appointment of people to serve as ministers. By so doing, he has sent out a clear signal that he has ‘hit the grounds running’ and that he very well knows the people he has appointed and has trust in their abilities; that these appointees are not products of intensive lobbying spanning several months which normally lead to appointing square pegs and putting them into round holes.

In the just ended presidential and parliamentary elections, candidate Akufo Addo made history in virtually every constituency of Ghana.

In the five constituencies of Mamprugu where I hail from and reside, his votes appreciated in gargantuan proportions, and he won in villages (polling stations) that hitherto the NPP feared to tread.

Taking the Nalerigu-Gambaga constituency as an example, candidate Akufo Addo garnered 26,285 as against president Mahama’s 23,130.

This historic feat in my opinion can be attributed to the dynamism of the parliamentary candidate, the Dr. Bawumia factor, the invaluable contribution of the youth and women, and the ‘demystification’ of Nana Addo.

Even though Honourable Hajia Alima Mahama in 2004 won the Nalerigu-Gambaga seat on the ticket of the NPP, then president Kufuor lost woefully to candidate Atta Mills of the NDC.

Nana Akufo Addo therefore became the first presidential candidate of the NPP to win majority votes in the Nalerigu-Gambaga constituency- that too, with a comfortable margin (no pun intended).

The nectar of victory tasted sweetest when as expected, Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama made light of a so-called keen contest between herself and the NDC Alhaji Baba Issifu Seidu by beating him to pulp with an expansive margin of close to 5,000 votes.

I will like to make bare to my readers some of the innumerable qualities of Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama that puts her several light years ahead of her contemporaries in politics.

By doing so, I hope the myriad of people out there who only see her on television or listen to her on radio without any personal relationship will get to appreciate fully the gem of a woman she is; and why president Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo did not hesitate for once in making her minister designate responsible for Local Government and Rural Development.

The cliché that ‘politics is a game’ has almost become an accepted norm. However, Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama’s view of politics is ideal. She sees politics as ‘‘a call to the service of mankind’. She once remarked famously that “politics is a voluntary risk I have accepted to do in order to emancipate the majority of citizens from their plight, with the risk of rejection from the people I intend to help’’.

From the quote above, it depicts a woman who is fully aware that in politics, the electorate can misconstrue one’s good intentions. She did a lot as Member of Parliament of Nalerigu-Gambaga constituency in her first parliamentary stint from 2005-2009.

Her legacies as Member of Parliament are still unparalleled up to date. However, when the good people of Nalerigu-Gambaga misconstrued her good intentions, service and altruism, they voted her out in the 2008 elections with the believe that her successor will do a better job only to realise not long afterwards that she has no co-equal.

We yearned for her to come back and stand for elections so that we could right the wrongs we did in 2008. She was not convinced she was in the right frame of mind to stand in 2012 (a euphemism she used to politely say ‘NO’ to us).

She didn’t contest in 2012 and the NPP candidate lost by a hair’s breadth to the NDC incumbent Member of Parliament.

There was no way the NPP could afford to lose the seat to the NDC in the 2016 elections upon their ineptitude and insouciance to the plight of the mighty masses. Of all available options to the Nalerigu-Gambaga NPP, a comeback of Hajia Alima Mahama in the parliamentary ticket proved to be the best alternative.

We were as un-budging as she was dithery to our persistent pleas for her to put herself forward for election in the party’s primary to choose a parliamentary candidate. When she finally succumbed to our pleas, we knew very well that the path was paved for NPP’s victory in the constituency and the only hurdle she had to clear being the party’s primary.

A good product sells itself and it wasn’t difficult for the NPP Electoral College to endorse her candidature by electing her as the NPP parliamentary candidate for the 2016 elections. Because of her believe that politics isn’t a game which necessarily must have winners and losers, she did not allow wild jubilations after her victory in the primaries.

She was magnanimous in victory. Her demeanour even in victory was very calm and relaxed. This surprised even her competitors and those who did not know the reasons behind her refusal to jubilate claimed that she was shocked that she won and because of that could not celebrate her victory.

On the contrary, she was feeling for those that she had vanquished as if she was the one that lost. She could not compound their woes with extravagant celebrations. That is the Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama that I know, always putting people first.

Hon. Hajia Alima’s honesty is legendary. She is by far the most honest politician I have come into contact with. Virtually everyone who has worked closely with her can attest and vouch for her integrity.

If you were of the believe that all politicians are liars, then you might have to begin to have a rethink because sincerely speaking Hajia Alima Mahama will never lie for anything-including votes.

She is the first and only politician I know so far that has refused to lie for political expediency. She refused to make promises that were potentially beyond her capacity to fulfil even when some of us her followers impressed on her to do so. Next time you hear statements like ‘Hajia is not a politician’; you should know that it is a compliment of her honesty. People expect all politicians to lie and make very grandiose promises but this Hajia will never do that.

She preferred telling the people what she has done for them, can do for them and will actually do for them; not what they want to hear. At first, some of us were pissed off by that unbridled honesty of hers which she was not in any hurry to jettison.

Later, we acquiesced to her. We all had to become the ‘new breed politicians’, respecting the electorate, treating them as sacrosanct kingmakers and never lying to them wilfully. Gradually we realised that most voters were taking note of her honesty and paradigm shift in politicking which they appreciated so much.

Indeed, integrity is the one thing money cannot buy. Opponents of Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama tried to find just a single fault of her that they could latch onto for political gain but they could not find anything. Integrity without humility is deceptive. One other lovable quality of Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama is her humility.

If I was interacting with her on the streets of Nalerigu or Langbinsi and you were not told that she was the one, you could never have guessed rightly. Whereas even some Assembly Members build barriers between themselves and their constituents, Hon, Hajia Alima with all her impressive academic credentials, national and international exposures, is so ‘a woman of the people’.

She has conscientiously tried to remove all barriers between her and her people. She is fair in her judgment, gives respect to everyone without any consideration of class, tribe, religion or family background. She has never behaved in any way that shows that she feels like she is a step ahead of anyone. The amazing thing about her is that she is so natural and can never fake anything.

She listens to everybody’s opinion and respects them as such. If you were wondering what makes women and the youth so madly in love with Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, just a brief chat with her will reveal why.

Of all her initiatives geared towards empowering people, the youth and women especially, take centre-stage. She is an ardent believer in the abilities of the youth and women.

She naturally gets attracted to these two categories of people. As a youth myself and a very discerning voter, I thank God all the time for touching the hearts of people to buy into the policies of Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama and President Akufo Addo. There are so many things she did for women and the youth when she was part of President Kufuor’s government.

During the political campaign, there were lots of testimonies from women who benefited from her brilliant initiatives that helped in alleviating their poverties.

The amazing thing is that some of these testimonies surprised Hajia herself. She did a lot of good things for the good of it and never even considered them as her achievements. To the beneficiaries of these good deeds however, they marked turning points in their lives.

President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo has good acumen in choosing members of his government. With the choice of Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama as the Local Government Minister, the president has killed several birds with just a stone. In Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, president Nana Addo has chosen competence, honesty, humility, loyalty, incorruptibility, a good counsellor, a trusted patriot of the republic, a women advocate, a rights activist and above all, an experienced hands that will by all means vindicate the trust entrusted in her, her constituents and her region.

Hon. Hajia Alima will perform to the admiration of even her harshest critics; it is just a matter of time. She proved before, and will prove again that there are very competent women in our country that when given public offices, will prove their mettle and contribute to the national developmental agenda. Hon. Hajia Alima is worth celebrating and I congratulate her for her appointment.