General News of Thursday, 16 January 2014

Source: The Al-Hajj

Mahama gets tough on appointees

As if taking a cue from former President Jerry Rawlings’ verdict of him as “too nice a President”, President John Dramani Mahama is set to rebrand his public image to reflect his assertiveness and show of absolute control of all the happenings in his government.

A source at the seat of government hinted The Al-Hajj that the new posturing of the President, which reflected in some bold and courageous pronouncements he made when he interacted with journalist to mark his one year in office was to serve as a catalyst to whip his appointees in line in order to put their shoulders to the wheel in delivering the ‘Better Ghana’ as promised in his 2012 manifesto.

Unlike last year when the President had a soft spot for his appointees and considered them as working colleagues, out of which some took advantage to do things at will, President Mahama is said to have changed gear and is now ready to demonstrate to all and sundry, particularly his appointees and critics alike, that being affable is not synonymous to weakness, the source added.

“You can say this latest change in approach to governance is part of his second gear allegory, but if you’ve been close to the President, you’ll know that he is a very tough person…yes, I agree he did not exude that toughness when he was vice-president and when he became president in the first year, that was because he considered his appointees as mates and a team to work with, but this time he has changed strategy,” a source on condition of anonymity disclosed to this paper.

President John Dramani Mahama’s softness and affability which many say he picked from his mentor and former boss, the late Prof. Mills, was said to have given his appointees a field day. As a result, they sometimes went against orders unpunished in the entire first year of his stewardship as President.

This is said to have irked former President Rawlings who whiles delivering the keynote address at last year’s Hogbetsotso festival of the people of Anlo, said President Mahama is a fine leader “who perhaps is too gentle for the current political dispensation; some personalities around him have attributes that cannot auger well for the smooth management of the state”.

But as if to prove to Mr Rawlings and many who think like him that he is in charge, when the President last Tuesday met journalists at the seat of government on the occasion of his one year in office, displayed what obviously was a testimony of his departure from his “Mr too Nice” to a tough-talking person ready to show any of his appointees the exit in the event they misconduct themselves.

Responding to his critics that he has appointed mediocre people into government and providing reasons why he sacked the former deputy Communications Minister, Madam Victoria Hammah, President Mahama for the first time was heard using phrases like “I am In-charge”, “I am the coach”, I decide who stays and I decide when and who to reshuffle and “I am bold”.

The President whiles likening his position to a football coach stated that he has the prerogative to choose who serves in his government and who goes... “I have done that…You can express your opinions but I am the coach. Leave the coach to do his work,” he asserted.

He also said he is not afraid to crack the whip. Uncharacteristic of him for making such tough pronouncements, President Mahama in a response to why he banned the distribution of hampers on Christmas stated “…Sorry to anybody who was expecting a hamper and did not get it. I want to ensure that the people’s money is used in a manner that will bring the best and maximum benefits to our people.”

Though it was not clear whether Chairman Rawlings’ “Mr Nice” verdict on him over the last one year has anything to do with President Mahama’s latest resolve to assert his authority as Head of State, many others including son of Ghana’s first President, Dr Sekou Nkrumah still thinks the President does not exude much confidence as a leader.

According to Dr Sekou Nkrumah, the president “doesn’t have any leadership qualities. He speaks like an ordinary person on the street and that is not a leader. He has no vision, he’s uninspiring and some of the language that he uses is very – I don’t want to use strong words – but a President should not be speaking that way”.

“The president should speak with some authority, strength, conviction and use words [that inspire] and it’s not a joke and it’s not child’s play,” stated.

But his statement was immediately rebuffed with a sharp response from a Presidential Staffer, Dr Clement Apaak, who described Dr Sekou Nkrumah as a “perpetual cynic” and an “anarchist” who has lost touch with reality.

Dr Clement Apaak, on the same XYZ platform where Sekou berated the President told Host Moro Awudu that Dr Nkrumah’s behavior smacks of a person who has lost touch with the world.

“The conclusions I’m drawing from the commentaries that Sekou has been making recently is that he has resigned himself to become a perpetual cynic, or perhaps if you like, he has lost an interest in structures and maybe he’s becoming an anarchist, so perhaps the problem is not Ghana, but the problem is Sekou himself and the way he views our Ghanaian society and where our President wants to take this country and it is entirely not true to say that President John Dramani Mahama has no vision”.