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Opinions of Friday, 4 August 2017

Columnist: Orla Rica Alexandria (UG-Legon)

John Mahama, Africa's poster boy

President John Dramani Mahama, the former Head of State of the Republic of Ghana is currently in Kenya, leading a Commonwealth delegation of election observers who have been sent to the East African country to ensure a smooth passage of the Presidential election, scheduled to take place on August 8, 2017.

The former Ghanaian leader is embarking on his first major African assignment after successfully leading ECOWAS Presidents to see to the peaceful transition of power in the Gambia, where the then President Yahaya Jammeh, was attempting to hold on to power, in spite of his defeat in the 2016 Presidential election.

It must be noted that the instrumentality of President John Mahama in the Gambian mediation efforts took place days after he, from his official residence in Accra, and before local and international media, had conceded defeat in the Ghanaian elections.

In his usual soft voice, the lead warrior of the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), congratulated the winner, Nana Akufo Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), asked posterity to judge his efforts as President, saluted his countrymen and promised a smooth transition of power.

This profound gesture which sent the streets of Accra and many cities alive, jointly placed the Ghanaian President in a fit and proper position to teach his Gambian colleague, President Yahaya Jammeh, some important lessons in democracy.

John Mahama thus attracted mention in many international fora for the right reasons as a shining example of democratic leadership in Africa. Every conference which had the topic, 'Governance in Africa', did not end without the mentioning of President John Mahama of Ghana and he being the icon of Africa's democracy.

Many therefore expected him to take up more international roles in mediating for the respect of democratic principles, rule of law and peaceful exit from power. That expectation was however postponed when the retired President John Mahama at a function in Nigeria, announced his immediate plan to go on a vacation for some days before embarking on future international assignments.

Subsequent to that, President John Mahama was seen in Kenya, South Africa and the USA, taking some rest whilst making few public appearances to attend balls or lectures.

Unfortunately for the former President, the nationalistic admiration he had received in Ghana, (testament of which he gave on his Kenyan trip), begun to suffer a nose dive, when some allies leaked the contents of secret meetings he had had to prepare his comeback into the Ghanaian partisan political arena, as the next leader of his NDC party.

People who hitherto expected greatness from him on the African continent and beyond, were initially surprised at the rumours of his comeback. Later events have confirmed the rumor. Many folks in Ghana are still coming to terms with it, whilst others are disappointed at his immaturity and love for political power.

Following the announcement of his renewed appetite for power, the Big Brother role that President John Mahama was supposed to play in Africa and in Ghana, especially in his NDC party, begun to fade away.

The man who was supposed to be consulted and lobbied by all future Presidential aspirants in his NDC and even in NPP, is now their competitor for leadership, once again. All doors which were hitherto opened to and for him for such reverence, were blocked.

The heat then begun to build up in his party where elders, youth and women who are disappointed by his attempt to hold on to power no matter the dangerous consequences it has on his NDC party, have also started holding secret meetings to redeem the party from the claws of their former leader and his assigns.

Failing to make his shining example be used by world bodies and multi national institutions, President John Mahama has instead set the stage for an implosion within his party. The NDC party which he led, commanded total support and reverence, is now being prepared to give a showpiece of how the sins of a fallible leader should be recounted to him, in the arena of a hot contest for leadership within the party.

President John Mahama by his presence in Kenya today will be hailed as an icon who President Uhuru Kenyatta must emulate, should he lose the election. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is likewise to be motivated that there is life after losing elections.

Meanwhile, back home in Ghana, his clandestine efforts to make a third time appearance on the ballot paper, even after his style of governance had been roundly rejected by about a million more Ghanaians, is putting him up for scorn, as his weaknesses is being subjected to public discussions, unnecessarily. Scientists on the ivory tower of academia have been set to work in rewriting the John Mahama story, and it's significance to students and future generations.

Africa's poster boy for democracy is courting repudiation back home in his party because of his now known insatiable appetite for power.

Africa's poster boy for democracy is now stepping down from being a statesman in his home country, Ghana, to quickly become an opposition leader, mobilising youth in confrontation with their counterparts from the NPP ruling party, some of which have been fatal.

Africa's poster boy for democracy has missed the opportunity to be an influence in the next series of elections in Senegal, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, among others, including his beloved Ghana.

The question on the lips of many in the top echelons of his NDC party is, WHICH OPPOSITION LEADER EVER GETS APPOINTED BY INTERNATIONAL BODIES TO LEAD THEIR OBSEVER MISSIONS, HUMANITARIAN AND MEDIATION EFFORTS?

Obviously, the lust for power in most African leaders is resting somewhere in the DNA of the new African Show Boy. But for that temptation, the former Ghanaian leader will be thinking about building his Library, his Institute/Foundation and kick starting a major project in Agriculture or Housing so as to make the office of an ex-President beneficial to his country, and continue to be a shining example for Africa. He however prefers terminating that.

It has been suggested that in order to protect and sustain the African icon status he has now, a bold leader in the NDC party should pass on the life story of President Jimmy Carter to the office of ex-President John Mahama, to enable him know how to build an international image and reputable foundation after retiring from the Presidency.

An African Star and Poster Boy, a flash in the pan.