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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Columnist: Amenga-Etego, Sacut

Open Letter To President Mahama

Dear President John Mahama (JM),

I pray you are healthy as a fiddle to be able to carry on with the daunting task of ruling this nation Ghana. It is known to all that the inception of your presidency has been rocked with legal roadblocks - heddles that you only just recently succeeded in overcoming in our Supreme Court.

Given that stagnation, it has become imperative to stamp your legitimate authority and show clear direction for all of us to work in harmony and with strategy towards achieving your set vision for this nation as the President of Ghana in this epoch of our democratic history.

No doubt your presidency is the youngest regime in our recent political history. This youthfulness of your government is in the interest of good governance and in accordance with the new world order of youthful leadership and ideas taking charge of governance. And your government is not a young one only because Your Excellency is relatively young but also because majority of your appointees are young and talented - not old and experienced.

It is however clear to all of us that not everyone in the NDC party hierarchy or government is impressed with your decision as a young president to rule with young appointees and advisors. Many older party people are giving you a public fight over that.

Mr. President, they include Hon. Alban Bagbin, NDC MP who is also one of your 'three wise men' as well as Dr. Tony Aidoo, also a former appointee of both the late president Mills and the former President Rawlings. These and others have been speaking publicly about your government in recent times but not in palatable terms.

Indeed, some of the comments from your comrades about your presidency have been very abrasive. Some of it cast a slur on your integrity. Hon. Alban Bagbin for example claims that your government is not an NDC government but a government of your family and friends. He didn't stop there Sir. He also claimed that when you became president, your appointments of your officials have not been based on meritocracy among party members or Ghanaians but based on how much financial contribution people made to your campaign not withstanding their political inclinations.

At least we know that Hon. Alban Bagbin is not a strange face, and was not appointed based on his financial contribution to your campaign so he must be speaking about others - but may be because he wished for a better appointment from you than a 'wise man' - he definitely prefers silver and gold to a good name.

As for him, judging from his past, I can tell that all the issues Bagbin has raised against you will disappear as soon as you give him what he wants from you beyond a 'wise man'. He did it with late President Mills. He is still relying on same old discredited tactics to achieve his personal interests.

Mr. President, I know you are wise, so kindly ignore Hon. Bagbin with all the contempt he deserves. I am just short of words; otherwise I would have said he is envious of your elevated position.

To make things worse, Mr. President, this appointed 'wise man' even claimed that you are attempting to fight allegations of corruption by the wrong methods of setting up committees. He has tried to convince Ghanaians that if he had access to give you wise counsel, that you would be fighting corruption differently and efficiently. The most common of the allegations against you by your comrades is that there is an iron curtain around you which restricts access to your office or home for your audience. Interestingly Mr. President, this is not a new phenomenon in the NDC. We saw it when President Mills reigned over Ghana. There were similar public allegations made not just by anybody within the party but by the NDC founder President Jerry John Rawlings. There were also similar allegations made by former Attorney - General Martin Amidu as well as former National Youth Authority boss Dr. Sekou Nkrumah.

Mr. President, what I find intriguing here is that, unlike in the case of Mr. Martin Amidu and Dr. Sekou Nkrumah, when they made their public statements against the sitting president whiles being part of the same governing regime, they were immediately dismissed from government for their open disloyalty to the regime, it seems different under your reign since Hon. Alban Bagbin is still in office.

Besides being dismissed from government, along with President Rawlings, Martin Amidu and Sekou Nkrumah faced the wrath of the President Mills’ appointees in the media. The party leadership especially the General Secretary always remained emphatic that there was never any justification for any member of the government or party to go public with comments that seek to ridicule Your Excellency as President and Leader of the NDC party itself. His favorite refrain has always been that all members of the party and/or government must always use the 'official party structures'. Anything short of that is condemnable by the National Executive Committee.

Mr. President, we those observing from a little distance as students of Ghanaian politics and particularly NDC leadership perpetuity, can see a sharp difference and a lack of clarity from the NDC executive structure in your instance.

I will not insist that you must sack Hon. Bagbin from his job for his open criticism because some of us didn't support the sacking of Mr. Martin Amidu and Dr. Sekou Nkrumah under President Mills, yes, because we believe in freedom after speech. I think your decision to still keep Hon. Alban Bagbin in office clearly differentiate you as a more tolerant President of dissenting views within your own party. Well done for not following the old ways of thinking from an intolerant point of view.

However, Mr. President, it is not difficult to see the inconsistent stands taken by both government officials and party executives or even government communicators. The ruling party's General Secretary Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia for instance, inconsistent with his previous stands in the past, failed woefully to condemn the unorthodox means used by Hon. Bagbin to make his allegations against Your Excellency. He also went ahead to endorse the allegations made against you by lending them credence when he said that those same issues had been raised within the party hierarchy at various levels. He called for cease fire on the airwaves without debunking and restating emphatically that Your Excellency’s government is a government of the NDC and the people of Ghana and NOT as Hon. Bagbin put it, a government of your family friends.

Some of us find it very curious that the General Secretary of the ruling party will rather provide an exit for Hon. Bagbin to escape the heat of his unfounded allegations on the airwaves whiles at the same time allowing these allegations to remain hanging on Your Excellency’s government as though they were true.

What is the difference between Mr. Martin Amidu and Mr. Alban Bagbin in the context of our democracy and the NDC? Why will Bagbin be protected by the party against the sitting President? Juxtapose that with the same party represented by the same General Secretary protecting President Mills against Mr. Martin Amidu in his public utterances barely over a year ago – I see an unprincipled party leadership acting on their own personal and parochial interests. Do you see the same thing I see here Mr. President?

It will seem to some of us that there is a seeming tension between the young and the old within the ruling NDC. The young President is being resisted by the old party advisors in his youthful and progressive thinking.

Unfortunately, some young people in the party and government are towing the line of the old thinkers. In my books, the old guys must be told to take a step backwards now and allow the new order to operate. They must desist from all these old political tactics and traditional mindset of so - called seniority in the party etc etc. They must immediately abandon this old notion that gives them a sense of entitlement to the NDC party, its government etc etc.

As if that is not enough, official governments communicators have tended to side with the General Secretary and are now openly justifying the unfounded allegations of your 'fair weather friend' Hon. Alban Bagbin. Some few of the fire brand young appointees currently in your government were also in the last government. They were super - vociferous in their Defense of the President in the last regime of President Mills. Today, Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Alhaji Bature, Dr. Tony Aidoo, Alban Bagbin and so on are all on the rampage, accusing even your wife of creating and running a parallel presidency. I am yet to hear some of these young government appointees - some of whose godfathers by the way are among these current acidic critics of yours - come out with a defensive response to all the damaging allegations against your Excellency. At first, I was thinking that your Excellency, in accordance with your new thinking, restrained response to the allegations.

However, I later read and heard a few close aids and appointees of yours make statements. Kudos to appointees like Hon. Hannah Tetteh, Stan Dogbe, Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Hon. Joseph Yammin, Twum Boafo, Hon. Felix Kwakye Fosu for standing to be counted in the defense of Your Excellency.

I also heard your Excellency recently in a speech in which you lamented the lack of comradeship and loyalty from some of your colleagues. You added that those who questioned your ability to deal with corruption do not know you. I took that as a defense of yourself and your integrity against the allegations made by people like Bagbin and co.

I was not surprised to hear you personally speak in defense of your integrity since the party whose duty it is to protect you seem rather to be in cahoots with the accusers - something which is clearly against the laid down party structure and exposes great discrimination and selectivity in applying the same party rules differently to different actors.

Some of us are deeply worried by this glaring and sudden inconsistency and its implications for party and government cohesion. No wonder Your Excellency thinks that some of them want to see your back even before 2016!

Mr. President, I know you are a listening President. The NDC founder/former President has confirmed publicly that indeed you are.

Many others who some of us have heard all say that you are a listening President – no wonder you have listened to cries of Ghanaians and reduced the price of electricity tariff to make life more bearable for your people.

Sir, I have never tried to meet you and failed in my effort. May be it is because I know already I will fail in my effort so I don't make a try. But if you are truly as accessible as your aids are telling us, and to proof that Bagbin is totally wrong with his allegations, kindly tell your soldiers at your home gate to allow me entrance to come and see you for a conversation this weekend. Tell them I am bushy haired, bearded, and agitative!

I am a foot soldier so I will be coming to your home on foot. Also remember that I am coming as a comrade, and NOT as a family member or friend, to give you some piece of advice on how you can succeed as President of Ghana - that is if you consider me worthy of advising Your Excellency.

Yours Sincerely,

Amenga - Etego Akaabitono SaCut –

The writer is a political journalist, broadcaster & ghost writer.