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Opinions of Sunday, 27 May 2018

Columnist: Africanus Owusu – Ansah

To be or not to be; that is the question for Mahama

Former  President John Dramani Mahama Former President John Dramani Mahama

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

“Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fool.”

“Victory belongs to the most persevering.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

PRINCE HAMLET IN THE ‘NUNNERY SCENE’ talks to himself (soliloquises): “To be or not to be – that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes or to take arms against a sea of troubles or And by opposing end them…”

It is believed that ex-President Mahama must be joggling with the vexed question of returning to the rough road of political campaign for the Presidency. His intentions got to the public through his ‘Facebook’ post; and he was not mean, not selfish, but was only reacting to calls by the grassroots: “I will not disappoint you even as we await the publication of the party’s guidelines for selecting a new leader.” How can he disappoint those who had made it possible to climb this high pedestal, the praise singers, et al?

In the last election (2016), Mahama obtained 44% of the popular votes while Akufo Addo bagged 53%. For Nana Addo, the 2016 election was his third attempt at annexing the apex position in Ghana’s politics. So what is wrong for Mahama attempting it the second time? He had been born into a big political family – his father being the late Emmanuel Adama Mahama, the first Member of Parliament for the West Gonja Constituency and the first Regional Commissioner.

Following his father’s footsteps, young Mahama, had become a Member of Parliament (for Bole Bamboi Constituency), a Deputy Minister, a Vice-President under Mills and President (between 2012 and 2016). Oh, ho, someone exclaims, what does he want again? But who says politics has entry and exit points?

Perhaps, Mahama wants to return to complete his government’s ‘unfinished business’, or to correct mistakes his government had made, or is it simply ‘vaulting ambition’ that is tricking him to go for the deal? Mpanimfo] se, etiri ntee[ a yennyae [ky[ soa’, Once there is life, there is hope. After all, at 60, he has many years ahead of him, and the Constitution of Ghana, 1992, does not debar him from contesting. Mahama, toa so (Sorry, I thought I was on an NDC platform). Some conspiracy theorists call this the hallucination of the brain.

He could pick a cue from the founder of the NDC, J.J. Rawlings who struck in June, 1979 and returned in January 1981: the two years ‘interregnum’ had made him ‘mature’ at 35 years. Then, he put the uniform down, and became a civilian president running this country for close to 19 years!

Or take the case of Napoleon Bonaparte born as Napoleone di Buonaparte in Corsica to a simple family of Italian origin. At the age of 24, he had become a general of the French army and through wars of expansion had become the first Emperor in 1804. It took a combined force of European countries to invade and defeat France, and Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany, in 1814. Napoleon escaped from Elba, and was hailed again as Emperor till his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 (the 100 Days war – Les Cent – Jours); this time round, he was exiled to the island of Helena in the South Pacific: In solemnity he had parted with his associates with these words: “Adieu, my friends. Would I could press you all to my heart.” And he left in ignominy.

But George Boateng would not give peace to Mahama. When you see him, he does not look like someone who needs to see Dr Osei, but that is the impression conjured by key persons in the NDC. A loyalist of the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, he had declared his intention to lead the party to power in 2020. He thinks; “Incompetent Mahama cannot be entrusted with the NDC’s top job, let alone lead Ghana again. So he cannot come back to lead our party. This is the time we need someone whose hands are clean.” And another member of the NDC, Daniel Osei, Ghana’s ex-Ambassador to Dubai warns the pro-Mahama campaigners and the leaders of the Unity Walk to hasten slowly. Did you say ‘festina lente’? Daniel Osei thinks it is “… a beautiful idea meant to help bring the party together (which) has now been hijacked by the Mahama camp; (the walk) was rather a disgraceful spectacle which, sadly, will only entrench and advance the divisions in the party”.

Ambassador Osei adds: “If possible, Mahama should not contest in the flagbearership as that will not be in the NDC’s interest. Mahama was not simply defeated by Akufo Addo, he lost to the Ghanaian electorate across board because his reign was terrible and his personality also didn’t help matters…”

As for Alban Bagbin, Spio-Garbrah, Joshua Alabi, who have insinuated their intentions, they may have to let sleeping dogs lie.

In the words of Spio-Garbrah, “…all of us who were appointed by President Mahama have a great deal of respect for him, and all of us believe that since he led us into the last election, it is he who has the greatest potential to lead the NDC if he chooses to…” For many of the potential competitors: “All cats love fish but hate to get their paws wet.”

What did the Kwesi Botchway’s report say about Mahama’s leadership. The 65-page Executive summary of the report stresses, “President Mahama lives a life of a movie star… Mahama let himself down… he lost the elections and not the NDC… he ignored the Akuse strategy (which) included no flamboyant campaign, no amorphous group… Party spokespersons go and mess up with other stations and come to do the damage control on Radio Gold… there was disconnection between the government and party as well as disconnection between the party and the grassroots…”

Apologists for Mahama thinks otherwise. Hear Julius Debrah, Dzifa Attivor, Nana Oye Lithur, Omane Boamah, Prosper Bani… talk, and you will love to toe their line, and go for Mahama. John toa so; you are in a comfortable lead, apology to Koku who appears to have received parental advise to cool things or rather take things cool

And when the former MMDCEs held a conference recently, J.J. Rawlings did (or ‘could’ or ‘would’) not attend. Perhaps, he was being tactical; or he was being snobbish. Asiedu Nketiah may have the answer. The road will be clearer in 2024. But, for now, all opposition to Mahama’s leadership may have to “advise themselves”. He appears to be soaring higher and higher: the others, like some of us, were not born to be leaders, no silver spoons in their mouths.