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Opinions of Friday, 18 April 2008

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

John Mahama and Democratic Enrichment

The newly elected Vice Presidential candidate for the main opposition National Democratic Party (NDC), John Mahama, is arguably no novice in the rough-and-tumble of the Ghanaian political scene. Affable, handsome, eloquent, cunning and compassionate, from his response to the founder of his NDC, former President Jerry Rawlings, it appears political Ghana is yet to know the true political-cum-intellectual Mahama, the MP for Bole-Bamboi, against a Ghana which democratic dispensation is clouded by the “Big Man/Woman” syndrome that controls the political thoughts of citizenry.

In Mahama, the irrationalities within the NDC, which ruled Ghana for eight years, are being opened out for democratic scrutiny as Ghana’s democracy increasingly deepens. The NDC’s internal contradictions, like all the other political parties, more or less, wheel around Rawlings, unquestionably power drunk, a big talker, dictatorial with weak democratic characteristics, narrow and intellectually weak. By constantly claiming to be the “founder” of the NDC instead of a coalition of like-minded folks forming the NDC and exhibiting such characteristics, Rawlings has for long opened himself for democratic attacks, which came, unexpectedly, from Mahama.

Mahama’s beef with Rawlings was that he, Rawlings, and his wife, Nana Konadu, would have preferred Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu, a constitutional lawyer, and ordered the NDC apparatchiks to do so as they have been doing for the past 16 years by stage-managing most internal party elections for people the Rawlingses prefer against majority wish. But the big-wigs of the NDC picked Mahama for obvious strategic reasons against Rawlings’ whims and caprices.

Rawlings, ever temperamental and politically unbalanced, was angry, and told the BBC that he thinks Mrs. Mould should have been the choice as a running mate to Prof. Atta Mills. Political maturity demands that after a party have agreed upon a candidate (s) top officials of the party do not make contradictory statements as happened within other Ghanaian political parties such as the National Patriotic Party, the Convention Peoples Party and the Peoples National Convention.

By his behaviour, unlike other executive members of the NDC, Rawlings, once again, demonstrated his undemocratic characteristics though he has been in the Ghanaian political scene for over 36 years. And Mahama, running mate of the NDC flag bearer, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, not known for political bravery for his three terms as MP, more especially to a political tyrant like Rawlings, responded brilliantly: “Though he respects the rights of the former President and has nothing against him, the founder could have expressed his opinion through established channels within the party,” the Accra-based The Ghanaian Chronicle reported.

Within the NDC circles, and the larger Ghanaian political scene, Mahama’s response to the much feared and rough Rawlings is a populist action that increasingly help enrich the budding Ghanaian democracy against not only traditional paternalism and the “Big Man/Woman” syndrome but the milieu of 21 years of mindless military junta and 6 years of suffocating one-party system by opening the democratic process up for more discussions on issues, intellectually, without fear or threats of reprisal.

More telling is the NDC presidential candidate, Prof. Atta Mills, who, for the past two years since he was elected as flagbearer, has gone through all types of political “abuse,” deadly internal intrigues, all of sorts of propaganda, the state of his health, his degree of spirituality, and his level of political maturity. Most of these emanate from the NDC itself that brand itself as social democrat. But Prof. Atta Mills soldiered on. By agreeing on Mahama and letting Mahama respond to Rawlings’ demeaning of Mahama’s election as his running mate, Prof. Atta Mills repudiated the image that he is a yes-man, a “dog,” “not his own man,” “intellectually weak,” “a disgrace to academia,” a “coward,” and easily manipulable.

And the Ghanaian democracy got better in this way through Prof. Atta Mills and John Mahama democratic actions against Rawlings’ long-running political bullies.

email: kasarpon@hotmail.com