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Opinions of Sunday, 6 January 2013

Columnist: Daniel Hammond

Reflections on President Mahama’s first State of the Nation Address

President John Mahama may not have had ample space to craft his vision for the country even as he gets ready to assume his first term in office as the President of Ghana, however, I have always thought that the President is quite capable and will rise to the occasions to justify the confidence that the people of Ghana have reposed in him. But to say that I was disappointed by his performance last Friday is an understatement.

To say the least, President Mahama’s performance last Friday in parliament was dishonorable to the Office of the President. I think it in the interest of NDC party to let him know and understand that his performance was below ordinary and beneath expectations and no matter how much efforts that people in his party put in defending his poor performance, they will not and cannot convince any objective minded person that he did a good job. The effort he put in the address gives the impression that he lacks that deep sense of commitment to the cause of Ghana, his performance made him appear quite incapable of leading the people of Ghana to achieve their dreams and aspirations.

This kind of performance makes leaders appear visionless and incompetent. This is because leaders with deep sense of commitment to the needs and aspirations of followers use such opportunities to articulate and mobilise support for their vision. His excuse that he will be returning to the august house in a short while is untenable. I for one expected him to use this platform to convince his skeptics but as it is he has given them more ammunitions to attack him which is rather unfortunate.

I voted for the president, as a matter of fact, I had to travel all the way from North America to Ghana to vote in the 2012 election because as a supporter of NDC it was important to me that NDC retains power. I really wish President Mahama well. I desperately want to see him succeed as President. But my question is this, is the President proceeding on the right path? Considering the effort he put into his presentation of the State of the Nation Address. I may not be able to say yes emphatically! The President could have done better. It appears that the president is not taking advantage of the many experienced advisors. It’s quite obvious that he lacks good advice, currently, It seems that he is either being advised by people who are not quite up to it and this is beginning to show in the few critical decisions he has made in the last few weeks.

The President must bear in mind that come 2016; he will not have Mills’s legacy to ride on and if he continues the way he did in Parliament last Friday, he will cause a huge in repairable damage to his image and once that is destroyed he will not be able to attract the support of floating voters . As an astute politician, the President will agree with that no political party can win an election in Ghana without the support of floating voters. And President Mahama has to remember that people including some in his own party who voted for him are sitting tight and waiting to see if he has what it takes to succeed as President and he dare not fail us or let us down.

To supporters and sympathisers of the President, please resist the temptation to shower insincere praises on the President. Let us support him by showering praises where it is due and be courageous and honest with him and say it to his face when he performs badly like he chose to do last Friday. The President needs our support and encouragement; part of this may require us to be honest with him. I think people will forgive him where he does his best and his best is not good enough but performances like last Friday’s are to put it bluntly unacceptable and beneath a President elect.

My own little advice to the President is this, it is not how you begin or start the game, Its how you finish. I wish the President the best in his first term. And may God bless the President and God bless Ghana!