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Opinions of Thursday, 19 September 2019

Columnist: Abdul Rahman Harruna Attah

Harruna Attah writes: I witness

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Hours before President Mahama conceded the presidency of Ghana to Nana Addo-Danquah Akufo-Addo, I had run into a very senior member of the NDC who matter-of-factly said to me, “Concession Time”. I did not like the sound of it at all but I agreed…

Not long after this encounter, I drove to the outgoing President’s residence to register my continued friendship, loyalty and trust in his leadership. There were many people milling around on the compound, with some openly in tears. I made my way into the main house where to my great surprise and indeed joy, I saw a very composed outgoing First Lady Lordina Mahama seated with many “sympathisers” around her, again with some openly crying. Remarkably, she was rather comforting people and putting on a very brave face. I took her hand and offered words of solace and moved out again to the compound where the media had set up in anticipation of JM’s concession speech. There was no sign suggesting a refusal or even putting forward to the next day the concession…

Not long after that JM came out followed by aides. We greeted cheerfully, with me all the while suppressing the tears welling in my eyes. I took my place in the front row with other senior members of government and party as he faced another turn in his destiny in front of a barrage of microphones and television cameras.

In a clear, firm voice, he accepted the election results with words that would in the future become our own version of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – a speech that was lauded all over the world as one of the most gracious concession speeches ever to come from an African leader. That he conceded at all was enough for the international community and since then the international assignments have been flowing.

After the concession statement, deflated and dejected we consoled ourselves with whatever words we could conjure to each other and I remember pledging my continued support to him before wishing him goodnight as he went back into the main building.

I ended up at the Plus 233 nightclub to allow the gaiety of such a place to lift me up from the depression I sensed would envelop me if I did not adopt the right mitigating mental defence mechanisms. But lo and behold, who did I find there on the dance floor?! Another former first lady! Very clearly she was in a celebratory mood! I presented myself to her and gave her my respects. It was most bemusing for me as my mind kept shifting from images of one introspecting soon-to-be former first lady and a seemingly joyous predecessor first lady – images that will remain for me some of the most defining moments of the days leading up to JM leaving office on January 7 2017…

Almost three years on, time has moved on, life has moved on and we have moved on. We have all settled and marching in tandem to the beats of our manifest destinies. JM himself has become a favourite of the international community not necessarily for the many achievements of his watch but mainly because he lost an election and did not contest the outcome. He handed over a peaceful stable country to a successor. At no time in the process was there any hint of a possible post-electoral upheaval.

I have maintained a close relationship with him and not even the alleged 650, 000 votes that mysteriously surfaced to tilt the tally has fazed him – an allegation every now and then given legitimacy by major NPP players in their public outbursts.

And then!

Under the auspices of the UN, a picture has been painted as if Ghana was on the brink in December 2016 after the elections which needed the intervention of some supervising authority to avert calamity. This exposition has all of a sudden become a casus belli needlessly putting pressure on the peace, security and stability of Ghana since Election 2016.

Three dimensions stand out: the moral, the political and the ethnic, which these columns will not go into, but I’ll rather give vent to the following excerpt from Julius Debrah, former Chief of Staff of the Republic of Ghana in response to the UN speech which was a direct accusation against his former boss, President Mahama:

“Following the meeting with the party, he called a number of personalities including President Jerry John Rawlings, President John Agyekum Kufuor, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, National Chief Imam Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu, Rev. Ernest Agyei of the Ringway Assemblies of God Church and Archbishop Duncan Williams.”

It is the individuals named above who should rise up and for once, give Ghanaians a taste of real moral courage in this case. Ironically, if there is one thing the speech, whose main themes were “Culture of Peace” and “Empowering and Transforming Humanity” has achieved, it’s been to thwart the cherished ideals embodied in them with the partisan and regrettably dangerous ethnic positions it has engendered.

The NPP Ashanti Region Chairman has, as a result, issued a part ethnocentric, part blood-curdling political call to arms “fatwa” against President Mahama campaigning in the Ashanti Region for simply issuing his own version of history. Other ethnocentric minded people are dredging up all manner of jingoist effusions claiming that the Asantehene has been insulted…

Not true. I have read it over and over and no part of it constitutes an insult to anybody, in fact, if anything at all, I find it a little on the side of obsequiousness – measured, respectful and not wanting to cause offence… Worryingly, for me, the atmosphere is beginning to smell like the Dreyfus Affair and tempts me to retitle this opinion piece “J’Accuse”!

But who would I be accusing and for what? Whether JM was pressurised by whoever to concede, he did, and was that not the desired end? Much ado about nothing…