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Opinions of Monday, 7 July 2014

Columnist: Allotey, Henry Kpakpo

Are Presidential second terms cursed?

President Mahama is facing his severest test as President of Ghana. Even though technically this is his first term as president, in reality this is the second term of N.D.C in power. With a continuous depreciation of the cedi, a spiraling inflation rate, worsening economic situation, unreliable power supply, massive corruption, graft and political nepotism being the hallmark of Mahama’s administration, I don’t believe his position as president will be envied at all.

Having observed second terms of presidents worldwide, I have a funny feeling that presidential second terms are ‘cursed’. Presidents who are in their second terms seem to witness unsurmountable problems which eventually end up with their party losing power. Some few examples will suffice.

President J.J Rawlings had ruled Ghana for 11 years till he transferred Ghana to a democratic rule. He stood for election and won in 1992. After performing creditably well, he was reelected with a wider margin in 1996 for a second term in office. Rawlings second term in office witnessed an enormous level of economic turbulence and political corruption under the strongman J.J Rawlings. In 2000 alone the cedi depreciated to an all-time low of almost 60% with other sectors of the economy being the hardest hit. There were various demonstrations, agitations and labor unrest which culminated in the N.D.C losing power in 2000 to President Kuffour. The second term of J.J. Rawlings was hell for the N.D.C and I am sure they breathed a sigh of relief when they lost power to the N.P.P.

J.A Kuffour came to power in the 2000 election when he defeated the N.D.C’s John Atta Mills. The reign of Kuffour witnessed some economic successes in his first term of office. The cedi was stabilized, the economy improved and development was accelerated. He was unsurprisingly voted for a second term in 2004. Kuffour continued his success stories when he introduced highly successful social intervention programs like School feeding program, National Health Insurance Scheme, Metro Mass Transit service, Free maternity care, National Youth Employment Service etc. Since the days of Kwame Nkrumah, no government has introduced highly successful social intervention programs than President J.A.Kuffour. Kuffour was on course to being the best Ghana President after Kwame Nkrumah till the second term ‘curse’ struck him!

Getting to the end of Kuffour’s second term, the country starting witnessing serious economic upheaval. The Cedi started depreciating seriously; scandal upon scandal starting hitting Kuffour’s government, workers’ salaries delayed and the social interventions programs he had introduced started witnessing shocking levels of corruption and nepotism. To crown it all, President Kuffour did the unthinkable when like the dictator Jean Bokassa crowned himself with gold chains to celebrate the ‘success’ of his government. This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The N.P.P shockingly lost the 2008 election after 3 grueling rounds of voting and the N.D.C came to power. Clearly, Kuffour’s second term in office was ‘cursed’!

Notable Presidents that have faced serious problems during their second terms in office goes beyond our nation of Ghana. Read some examples.

Bill Clinton remains one of the most successful American presidents till date. His first term in office witnessed unprecedented growth in the American economy and massive job creation. He was so hugely successful he won a second term bid easily. The second term of Clinton’s reign witnessed serious level of moral turpitude from the presidency. He was accused of sexually harassing Paula Jones and having inappropriate sexual encounter with a white house intern Monica Lewinsky. The affair with Monica Lewisky nearly brought his presidency down but was saved by his democratic allies in the senate.

Thabo Mbeki came after the hugely popular Nelson Mandela. His first term reign witnessed some successes in the South African economy but he witnessed hard times during his second term in office. He was finally ousted in a ‘palace’ coup when he was forced to resign barely two years into his reign after losing his support in the A.N.C party. That brought his reign to an end

I can give thousands of examples of how hugely popular presidents start doing well during their first terms but falter badly in their second term of office. Remember the first Black American President Barack Obama? How is his second term panning out? Hectic isn’t it? What about President Goodluck Jonathan who is continuing the reign of President Musah Yar Adua? But the question still stands: Are second terms really ‘cursed’? Second coming of politicians have not always been the best. Remember the second coming of Napoleon Bonapart and the disaster that followed? Or the return of Nebuchadnezzar and the disintegration of the Babylonian empire?

Back to President Mahama and the turbulence his government is going through. While I sympathize with the president, I think that he needs to step up his game or he will go down in history as Ghana’s first One-Term president! The situation on the ground doesn’t look favorable at all. The ‘curse’ bug seems to have hit him hard with his government reeling under pressure from all sectors of the economy. It is quite unfortunately but I have a strange feeling that Mahama will survive and defeat my theory. That will be welcome news and Ghana will be the ultimate winner.

Kpakpogh@yahoo.com 0243370764