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Opinions of Monday, 10 October 2016

Columnist: President John Mahama

President Mahama writes: My manifesto is all about putting people first

By President John Mahama

My brothers and sisters,

In the course of our daily routine, we often get caught up in details that ceaselessly ask for our attention. We forget the big picture; we forget to ask ourselves the questions that really matter.

For each and every one of us, as Ghanaians, the most fundamental question is, “What is Ghana?” because the answer to this question determines who we are and where we want to go.

We know the answer: Ghana is one of the foremost democracies in Africa and a leader in the liberation struggle. Ghana is a founder of pan-Africanism. Ghana was the harbour for all those who fled from oppression.

But what does all this mean? Well, for every generation and for every Ghanaian this probably means something different. For me, it means that Ghana has to become the most important democracy in Africa because democracy means putting people first. All the people. All the time. Democracy always brings wealth. Always.

Democracy is about being free from oppression and having a voice. It means that more and more people are included in the national dialogue, so that everyone’s chances of a better life improve dramatically.

By becoming the most important African democracy, I believe we’ll truly honour our independence, we’ll truly promote pan-Africanism, and we’ll truly continue to be the harbour for all those who flee from oppression.

This is my ideal, as a Ghanaian and as President of Ghana. This is where I think we should go as a nation. Now you know my vision. You know my plan. You know why I’m asking you for another mandate.

Will we get there during my lifetime? I am very confident that we will. Will we get there during my Presidency? Yes. During the next four years we will definitely get there. How do we know this? Everything I’ve done so far and everything I’m prepared to do from now on is only a means to this end. Because I know that when eventually we become the Number One democracy in Africa, all our lives will be vastly improved.

Democracy means not only political empowerment, but also economic and social empowerment. It means more access to education and healthcare because you have a say about it. It also means helping the vulnerable, because they also have a say about it.

In terms of governmental policies regarding our social infrastructure and related to my vision, please read the NDC Manifesto, which I fully endorse and support. This is where you’ll find the technical and practical measures that we need to take in the next four years in order to become the most democratic country in Africa.

Are we on the right track? Well, judge for yourself. In 2012, when you granted me the humbling honour to serve you as President, we were the 11th democracy in Africa. In 2015, we became the 5th, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s prestigious Democracy Index. In 3 years, we moved upward no less than 6 places, so, yes! I am confident that in the next 4 years we will become Number One.

If I told you four years ago that my vision is to make Ghana the most important African democracy, you probably would not have believed me. It would have seemed too powerful a dream to even be considered. But today, you can see for yourselves. Today, I can speak freely and openly about my vision, because what we built during the last four years proves that this is something we can achieve. And let me tell you, this is something worth living and fighting for. Compared to this goal, any other plan, any other course of action, any other alternative proposal is just small talk.

If you ask people about John Mahama, some will say he is excellent, and some will say he is so awful and has to be replaced immediately. When you occasionally grow tired of all these transformations, all these changes and programmes that sometimes might initially affect you in a harsh manner, even you may feel like letting all go.

We are indeed on the right track. Take a look at this: in 2012, we were 53rd in the world when it comes to our country’s capacity to retain talent; today, in 2016, we are 48th. More and more talented people choose to remain and work in Ghana, instead of fleeing the county unlike previous years – so clearly, I must have done something right if so many talented people are inspired to stay and work here.

To this you might say: “Listen, Mahama, it’s all very well for these talented people, but I’m not one of them. I live a simple life, and I want my life to be decent. I don’t know about the guys you’re talking about, but I work too hard for too little money. So stop looking at these guys and start looking at me for once!”

But you’re missing the point, my friends. Those talented guys, they don’t look at me. And I most certainly don’t look at them the way you think. No politician, not even the President can force or persuade a talented person to remain in Ghana. Talented people don’t look at politicians, at their promises or threats – they look at you!

They don’t care what Mahama says, what NDC or NPP says; they look at you! They know, because they’re talented, that the last four years changed our Ghana for the better, even if some changes were unpleasant in the short run, and that the next four years will bring more opportunities for all of us. They know this based on the changes that are already happening. Otherwise they would have left already.

If you’re uncertain, if you don’t know whom to believe and what to hope, look at our many gifted people found across all the sectors in our great country. They are valued everywhere in the world; so it’s easy for them to move to another country if this is what they want. If they leave, it means we’re all doomed – but if they choose to stay it means that our country is a fertile ground for their development and is on the right track. And this means that your future, and Ghana’s future is promising. In times of doubt, this is the best indicator you can use. I use the same indicator when I want to find out whether I’m doing the right thing or not.

Besides, remember that four years from now you will be able to look into your children’s eyes and tell them: “It has been hard for me sometimes, building our foundation was challenging, but now you live in the most democratic and empowering country in Africa! This is my legacy for you.”

I promise you, it’s all worth it!

The rest is sound governmental policy.


John Dramani Mahama