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Opinions of Thursday, 11 September 2008

Columnist: Amoyaw, Sandy

John D. Mahama-A Breath Of Fresh Air In Ghanaian Politics

The response and reception at the recent outdooring of John Dramani Mahama suggest that exposing John Mahama and injecting the NDC party’s message into the rituals (defined here as actions that “move people emotionally and psychologically”) that define people is critical to making them immutable part of the party’s support base.

When it comes to John Mahama ethnographic documentation and filmed behavior from public events, quantitative feedback from majority of Ghanaians in Ghana and the diaspora, as well as interviews and conversations with focus groups underscores the momentous nomination of John Mahama as the running mate for Prof. Atta-Mills. Ideally, politicians who succeed in becoming parts of the electorate’s ritualistic behavior are those who affect lives, have a clear message and vision that address both specific rituals and the underlying function behind it. It takes certain stamina to endure months of hours of days in pursuit of the land’s second highest office. The vice-presidential position is a noble calling and an ideal training for a would-be president.

John Mahama made Ghanaians care about a calling (politics), hitherto, were blasé about. John Mahama has raised the bar and made politicians care about what they can do for Ghana and not what Ghana can do for them. John Mahama is admired and liked by everybody, and he is clearly loved by every Ghanaian.

John Mahama is walking history, because even the icons say he is the right choice for Vice-President and also the best.

John Mahama loves politics because he is the first Vice-Presidential nominee we have ever thought of as a mainstream politician and a parliamentarian.. John Mahama is one of a few politicians who have what it takes to be Vice-President of Ghana.

John Mahama gets even better when challenged, because he embodies the best in all our culture.

John Mahama is the best choice when the NDC needed a winning VP candidate because we love his demeanor.

John Mahama is the bar and he is worthy of emulation.

John Mahama is the bridge between the YOUNG and the OLD.

Whether his opponents and the critics like it or not he is the chosen one. He has the power to impact the Ghanaian electorate. The country is just getting a taste of his charm and power. This idea that John Mahama is the Ghanaian “version” of Barack Obama will be met with derision by his critics, and dismissed as an NDC sympathizer hubris, but may be now is the time for our prediction for NDC victory in December to come true. May be now is the time for John Mahama to impact Ghanaians to vote for Prof Mills and the NDC. May be now is the time for the most likeable politician in Ghana to make a quantum leap from being a member of parliament to being the next vice-president and eventually the president of Ghana after Prof.’s Mills two terms.

We are not talking about a John Mahama just being a future president of Ghana, we are talking about a Head of State who could improve and grow the economy and also change the ethnic tension in the country by bringing the country together. So much of the current NDC’s political success is attributed to him. Calling John Mahama a magnet for the youth and female vote is an understatement. The cameras follow John Mahama wherever he goes and make stars, if not supernovas, out of those in his orbit.

There is no limit to John Mahama’s potential to be a successful vice-president while he remains in his prime. More importantly, Mr. Mahama is about much more than votes and likeability. He is about helping to build a better life for Ghanaians, and also to leave a legacy at the same time. The advent of Mr. Mahama has finally grown Ghanaian politics to a new level, and this will continue for a long time. Just imagine the clamor he generates at rallies across the country and this is where he impacts voters. Less than six months after his arrival on the Ghanaian political scene, as the vice-presidential nominee, the NDC campaign has taken a different direction and dimension. The paradigm shift is so tremendous that speculation has swirled already that he, undoubtedly, will be the next president after Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills Politics first trains people in what they need to “BE”, then what they need to “KNOW,” and finally what they will need to “DO” in order to be a successful leader. God has given John Mahama this same principle in His Word, “Noble men make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.” God has made John Mahama a noble man and, to “KNOW” God’s ways so he can make noble plans, and finally to “DO” noble deeds to help our country Ghana develop economically, socially and politically

John Mahama has noble plans and understands the few things he cannot fail to do or everything else will be rendered inconsequential. In his modus operandi (MO) he identifies the main priorities so he can deliver. From everything we know about him, there is a strong side of John Mahama that is nurturing and known to Ghanaians. This is potentially the strongest weapon in his arsenal. John Mahama is a very witty person and his wit can be cutting. This in combination with his subtle jabs makes Nana Akuffo Addo and his running-mate Bawumiah the least of NDC’s problems. Most importantly, he has thrown open the doors and let everybody see who he really is. That is the only way to overcome any media and NPP caricatures of himself. With all of that said, the electorate knows that John Mahama is the new kid on the block, which is good for the candidate and the NDC party. This is John Mahama the real deal.

The Moslem-Christian ambivalence on John Mahama is understandable, but in the broad public view, I suspect, religious affiliation hardly suggests strong grounds for smoldering resentment. In reality, all of this suggests to me that many people are drawn to John Mahama not by where he stands on any particular issue but because he presents an attractive leader-model in whom they choose to believe with astonishing ferocity. Ironically, in this regard, he seems very much like the charismatic, inspirational Kwame Nkrumah, whose gravesite a desperately hopeful CPP checks for signs of exit every so often.

Whether this determination to believe in John Mahama can sustain itself all the way to the general election remains to be seen, of course. But thus far the M-man seems all but untouchable. To my mind, at least, he was far more appealing when he was out there swing for the fences, saying what he really thought of Nana Addo’s law degree in defiance of some party bigwigs who had long since written him off. Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, instead of brittle, tight, and tired he seems very inspiring and much like a maverick.

The touring of the battleground regions has maximized media exposure and shored up public relations for John, coupled with some really kick-ass rallies in the North. He’s now an acknowledged and a relevant politician in the NDC party. His nomination has made it hard for the other parties to gain ground. Furthermore, he has annihilated his opponent with his animation. If John Mahama maintains this idiosyncrasy and enters December with the same vim, the NDC is almost certain to clinch victory, because he is definitely amassing leverage. Although, hardened cynic that I am, I have been struck by the decreasing resonance of ethnicity among young folks in the South and elsewhere. The youth and women are the very core of Johns’ constituency, a fact that his campaign is trying to conceal and make esoteric by trumpeting his appeal to the Ashantis. The Ashanti vote is big in the Ashanti Region and significant in several other regions, but turnout and cohesion are concerns in places where they aren’t part of united forces. The attention given John’s out-dooring reflects the importance to his campaign of wooing some of Nana’s following. There is an interesting dynamic operating, I think, among Ashanti women who are torn between the prospect of cracking the glass ceiling in a big way and a sense that they should be more intent on helping Mr. Mahama break through another ceiling that has been much lower and oppressive. Because of the apparent drama of John Mahama’s political supremacy some prominent chiefs and certain bigwigs of some stripe, have reportedly gone underground to escape heavy lobbying from both camps. This pretty well reinforces all the reports of enthusiasm for the NDC campaign. Needless to say, these stories had been largely focused on the Mahama phenomenon.

For all the aforementioned reasons, Ghanaians recognize John Mahama as a BREATH OF FRESH AIR IN GHANAIAN POLITICS.

Sandy Amoyaw (