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Opinions of Saturday, 30 January 2016

Columnist: Hardi, Ibrahim

Public perception of Nana Akuffo Addo and President Mahama.

My analysis is to outline the public perceptions of the two major candidates of the November 7,2016 elections and it will be up to the reader to decide to what extent the public perceptions will work for or against a particular candidate. Perceptions are underrated in our society but they do matter. In this article I will outline the positive and negative perceptions first of President John Dramani mahama, and thereafter look at opposition leader Nana Akuffo Addo.

Perceptions about Mahama's Character:

President Mahama has been projected as a “humble person,” who never dreamt of being president and is “not power hungry.” He once voluntary relinguished MP to another Ndc member on instruction or assurance as vice presidential candidate in 2008 election. It is also argued this is the reason that late President “anointed” him to take over from him,but per the Ghana's constitution,the Vice President resume the duties of the president in his up-sent either dead or alive. On the other hand, it is believed that president Mahama is such a weaker leader and can easily be manipulated therefore not fit to be a President. It is argued that president Mahama is not his own man and he is surrounded by uncouth characters who are corrupt and are all out to protect their interests.

There is a belief that president Mahama loves women like the late Alhaji Aliu mahama. President mahama is said to be a drunkard and possibly an alcoholic. It is alleged that as a result of his drinking habit over a long period of time, he has a kidney problem!. That's people's mind.
Most supporters of president Mahama gravitate towards him because he is said to be a “team player” who listens to other people’s views before making a decision and has no dictatorial tendencies. This argued is a mark of a great and successful leader and is a major departure from his former boss, late President Mills who was known to be a dictator and a “Feroo”. President Mahama, they say is prepared to learn and he does not have a know it all attitude like his predecessor nor his current opponent, Nana Akuffo Addo.

There are those who feel president John Mahama's ascendancy to the Presidency is rather meteoric. He has not achieved anything of note in life. His resume is thin and there is nothing to write home about. He is basically a non achiever as argued!.

There is a perceptions that president John Mahama represents the common man and this attribute endeared him well with the late president Atta Mills. He was an MP of Bole constituency which is made up poor people. He has lived in Bole among the poor and he easily relates to them. In addition, President Mahama grew up in a metropolitan area which was a boiling point of different tribes. There was no tribalism during its upbringing as all tribes lived in harmony. This background makes him a unifier and not prejudiced. He can easily and naturally relate to any Ghanaian regardless of the region they come from! The friends he has are from different tribal groupings.

Perceptions about Nana Akuffo Addo's Character:

Nana Addo was born in Accra in very humble rich surroundings with great lawyers and statesmen. It is a story of from riches to riches. Nana Addo is perceived as a womanizer and regular user of hard drugs. He is perceived as a highly successful lawyer although they are a lot of question marks to it and a serious business man who can replicate his success to the Presidency of the country.

On the other hand , Nana Akuffo Addo is said to be arrogant, power hungry and stubborn whose success has gotten to his head and does not relate well the less successful people nor poor people. His critics point to his refusal to be held certain positions when he was offered the job as well as his refusal to be Listening to former president kufour when he appointed him as the Attorney General and minister for justice which led to certain decision taken by him,that brought the whole npp regime into dispute and as evidence of being power hungry and bigoted.
There is general agreement that if the Presidency only involved hiring a person on basis of qualifications to fix the economy and candidates were given a job interview, Alhaji Dr. Mahamuru Bawumia and Nana Akuffo Addo beat other candidates hands down! Alas the requirements of Public office is much more complex than that.

When John Kufour was President, The Npp was perceived as a National party and it was growing in leaps and bounds. The top leadership had a national character and if it had not been for his constitutional mandate and by the change of the winning formulae by Nana Akuffo Addo administration, Npp would have been in Government by now as they were a progressive party at that time. Ascendancy of Nana Addo from no “where to lead the party” which resulted in massive secret resignation or non involvement of some party bigwigs, the party and its leader Nana Addo has been perceived as a tribal Party. It is believed that tribalism is in Nana Akuffo Addo's DNA partly because of his upbringing or his closeness in the village,Akyem Abuakwa. It is a case of : “ He was born in the Village and the Village was born in him”. Nana Akuffo Addo has not made enough efforts to distance himself from the tribal tag. The recent tribal statements by Some of his loyalist actions against Paul Afoko has just enhanced this tribal perception which was somehow waning a bit during the Npp implosion. The tribal monkey is back on Nana Addo's back.

There is, however, a positive perception about Nana Addo being “a strong leader” and “a no-nonsense person” who is used to making hard decisions given his experience as a lawyer. The Presidency is all about making difficult decisions. The Country which is as sick as Ghana is in terms of lack of the rule of law and other ills needs a knowledgeable and strong leader who should make decisions which are in the best interests of the country and not for political expediency. Nana Akuffo Addo therefore fits the bill.

Nana Akuffo Addo is said, by those who are close to him, to be dictatorial and not a team player with a know it all attitude. It argued that if one strongly disagrees with him, he harbours grudges for a long time and he can be very unforgiving. He does not reconcile easily to those who differ with him. He somehow does not understand that the definition of politics being “disagreement” and the need for compromise. It also felt by others that he is a divisive character not a team player or unifier . This perception was clearly demonstrated few years to the public by his boycotting of certain important national issues. He missed great opportunities of show casing himself as national leader and taking advantage of the optics of such occasions.

There is also a perception that Nana Addo is member of the free Masons which Christians believe is a Satanist movement. He has not done enough to dispel this perception which can be damaging to some sections of voters. In addition, there is also a belief that he represents foreign interests and as a liquidator of some banks,mines and parastatals, he greatly benefited personally and this was the source of his riches. He is compared to the Russian Oligarchs who were mostly young clever Russians like Chelsea’s Ramanov and others who got rich when the USSR disintegrated by cleverly looting Government assets

In many other jurisdictions where voters are enlightened, the personality of the candidate, and his track record can influence who eventually emerges as a winner. In Africa in general, and Ghana in particular, the impart of perceptions by voters on the candidate is unknown. The value judgements of our society is also different. In western countries for example, President Zuma of South Africa could not have been elected twice President because of his baggage of corruption and polygamism. In Africa ,there is a tendency to vote for the Party rather than the person but also we vote for a person we identify with. The winners are normally who the majority feel with promote their interests and who will satify the majority’s basic needs .Also, the weight assigned to the positive and negative perceptions by voters differ quite a lot because of the societal value judgement. The winner, in my view, will be the one whose values that the majority of the voting block will identify with!.
Ibrahim Hardi,contact 0208235615,email; bigkolaaya@yahoo.com.