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Opinions of Thursday, 3 January 2008

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Aliu Mahama Just Came Along For The Ride

When during the first-half of his very first term in office, some of his disappointed supporters and sympathizers began calling him “Medofo Adaadaa Me,” loosely translated as “My love has woefully disappointed me,” we called these critics to task for facilely presuming that any politician, or even a statesman, could be expected to undo the 20-year damage massively and almost irreparably wreaked on Ghana within the piddling space of two years.

In hindsight, it appears that these mordant critics of old Sleepy-Eyes were dead on target in their nimble assessment and us, their Diasporic critics and unsolicited gofers, grossly mistaken in our assessment of what this writer then presumed to be tantamount to sheer impatience and unrealistic expectations.

Still, more than anything else, what curiously piqued this writer’s interest and imagination, for that matter, in the lead-up to the December 22, 2007 NPP Delegates Convention, was the fact of Vice-President Aliu Mahama having been twice invited to pair up with old Sleepy-Eyes in gunning for the presidency. Ordinarily in such advanced democracies as prevail in the West, being endorsed twice as a running-mate in a constitutionally-mandated two-term administration, virtually translates into the one so endorsed being logically groomed for the presidency, once the substantive, or incumbent, president made his/her exit.

In the case of the Tamale-based Alhaji Aliu Mahama, it appears that old Sleepy-Eyes brought on the former purely for the ride or decorative purposes, as it were, in the dubious name of “Regional Balance.” And so having expediently achieved his purpose, old Sleepy-Eyes decided to let the unsuspecting Mr. Mahama, literally, go to the proverbial dogs.

What is equally intriguing, in quite a curious manner, is the fact that Alhaji Mahama decided to gun for his immediate boss’ job, come January 2009, without, apparently, asking for the public endorsement of old Sleepy-Eyes. Or, perhaps, he did but, as usual, old Sleepy-Eyes begrudged his deputy the same in the dubious name of political neutrality and party unity. In the end, though, the man who spent millions of dollars unilaterally organizing a conciliatory fiesta for the infamous Butcher of Dzelukope, decided that it was best to truck with nepotism rather than nationalism. In sum, old Sleepy-Eyes decided that since, indeed, charity must begin at home, rather than endorse his evidently loyal, albeit putatively drab, lieutenant, the august reins of governance had better stay in the hands of a blood relative; and who better to relish the same but the maternal nephew of old Sleepy-Eyes himself!?

Indeed, it must have been this patently crude lesson in political expediency that prompted another Northerner, and a Mahama to boot, to send a dour, and no-nonsense, message to the perennial presidential candidate of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) that he, Mr. John Mahama, knew far better not to present his dignified self readily as a vice-presidential votive, or unreflective sacrificial lamb, of another Southerner, and again, in the dubious name of “Regional Balance.” By all means, let regional balance go to hell!

In sum, not only does old Sleepy-Eyes appear to have permanently dented his confidence with the ruling New Patriotic Party, he may well have seriously jeopardized the entire democratic apparatus of Fourth-Republican Ghana. For in opting for the inexcusably unsavory politics of nepotism, old Sleepy-Eyes may also have unwittingly, albeit all-too-deliberately unwisely, set in place and motion a new era of political tribalism and with the latter, certain geopolitical disharmony in a manner eerily reminiscent of that which triggered the Ivorian civil war, with the North defensively ranged against the South in an internecine slugfest.

In the case of old Sleepy-Eyes, such clear-cut binarism, or dialectic, does not even exist. Instead, what we now have is one Southern sub-ethnic nationality ranged against the rest of the Southern Meta-ethnic nationality, the two entities of which are then paradoxically and counterproductively called upon to team up in order to ensure that our Northern kinsfolk are perpetually relegated to the subaltern status of vice-presidency. Perhaps not so crudely, for old Sleepy-Eyes, an Oxbridge alumnus, is passably smart enough not to wax so blatant about his apparently inordinate penchant for tribal – actually familial – politics; and so he masks it up by ensconcing himself behind the aerospace mattress of a gravy train, as it were, which is precisely why instead of “nepo-tribalism,” Ghanaians are now being deviously induced to envisage their new-fangled capitalist democracy as a “Money-cracy,” a lay person’s term for brazen “Plutocracy.”

The tragic irony, though, inheres in the fact that it took the epic humiliation of Alhaji Aliu Mahama for the latter to come to the all-too-stark and quinine realization that old Sleepy-Eyes has, indeed, merely brought the Tamale engineer and contractor along for the proverbial ride to nowhere, a merry-go-round of sorts. And now, Ghanaians have been rudely awakened to the fact that the real, or substantive, Vice-President of old Sleepy-Eyes’ administration is, after all, no Northerner at all, but a faux Fante-card playing member of Sleepy Eyes’ own family. And why should there be any surprise, a full seven years on, when it has been glaringly obvious, all along, that the business of national security required the preeminent qualification of being the next-of-kin to old Sleepy-Eyes?

The saddest part of it all was for Veep Mahama’s campaign operatives to envisage Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the Veep’s primal political opponent if, in fact, not the latter’s mortal enemy. On the momentous night of December 22, 2007, when the carcinogenic dust of political salesmanship settled, Mr. Mahama had been painfully sobered into realizing the fact of his having been tactfully used taxidermally. And, needless to say, his solemn albeit woefully belated vow, on the convention floor, not to be taken for a ride, once again, by old Sleepy-Eyes, may well have forced “Mr. Jump-the-Line” to wistfully concede defeat.

Old Sleepy-Eyes may, indeed, have grimly read the proverbial handwriting on the wall. Needless to say, to err may be inescapably human; but to deliberately deceive one’s loyal associates in the process may also be unpardonably criminal.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005). E-mail:

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