Feature Article of Sunday, 9 September 2012

Columnist: Young Nkrumaist Movement

President Mahama failed first test

Following the untimely death of his Excellency Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Ghanaians showed what we are really made of. We showed unity in purpose, we demonstrated to the whole world what a bunch of peaceful, respectful, loving and united people we are. ‘The Black Star of Ghana’ did indeed shine.

The then Vice President John Mahama was sworn in as President of the Republic as per our constitution. President Mahama received a huge support from Ghanaians from all corners of political and religious divide. Representatives of all the major political parties trooped to the castle to pay homage to the newly sworn in President. Religious bodies also visited the castle to greet the President and to wish him well. This wasn’t the time for party politics, and every Ghanaian rallied behind our new President and wished him well. We understood that his success will be our success.

One of the first major decisions to be taken by the President which was keenly anticipated by the public was the funeral arrangement and burial of the late President Mills. At this time the nation was still united in grief and waiting for the President who had not said or done much up to this point since being sworn into office, to take the lead so the rest of us could all follow. This was an opportunity for the President to show the nation what he is made of. One would have thought the President will think through his actions carefully, make a strong judgement and come up with a decision which would have cemented the collective support that he had already garnered and maintained the unity that the country was enjoying.

President Mahama, however, failed his first test. His ministers came out and announced that the late President would be buried at the Flagstaff House, a Presidential residence cum office built by President Mills’ predecessor, John Kufuor of the opposition NPP, a property President Mills failed to occupy during his presidency, citing many security and operational reasons. This therefore, proved to be a bad decision and poor judgement on the part of President Mahama and his team. They even went to the extent of suggesting that part of the land at the Flagstaff House could be designated a presidential burial site. Not only was this a misguided decision, it was also careless, reckless and irresponsible. The Flagstaff House was built for the occupancy of sitting and serving President and not for dead Presidents. President Mills would not occupy it when he was alive but President Mahama, unwisely thought that should be his final resting place. It was no surprise that the opposition NPP threatened to exhume the late President’s body for reburial at a different place should they come to power.

After this embarrassment, President Mahama and his team’s next big idea was to bury the late President at the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum. This mausoleum is the burial place of the founding father and the first President of the Republic of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. The edifice also happens to be a tourist attraction for visitors to the country to see the final resting place of the man who promoted ‘social justice’ in Ghana and Africa, the gentleman who gave Ghana and Africa our ‘self determination’ and the great leader who was voted the African of the millennium, the legend without whom there would probably be no independent state in sub Saharan Africa. The late President Mills was a very fine gentleman, however, no one can be compared to the great man Kwame Nkrumah and so taking the decision to bury Mills at the same site, which has been designated to befit the stature of Nkrumah, was very unwise. It also defeats the idea of having the mausoleum as an attraction for pan African tourism. This idea also got the members of the Convention People’s Party; the party founded by Kwame Nkrumah which lead Ghana out of colonialism and into independence, the party that began laying the foundations on which the country would be built, the political party that started a huge infrastructural and great economic development in Ghana and its supporters very agitated, and threatened to mount a serious demonstration with the aim of destructing the whole plan. This prompted President Mahama to change course again.

The death of President Mills had brought a sense of unity and togetherness amongst Ghanaians, political boundaries were broken, we were one people, we were each others brother or sister, we shed tears together and consoled one another, and the polarised barriers that both NPP and NDC had built were dismantled. However, lack of proper judgement on the part of the new President within the space of a few days had taken us back to the divisive and polarised politics we’ve witnessed all along under NDC and NPP administrations. This ill-judgement had rekindled the political divisions again at the peril of ordinary Ghanaians. President Mahama is now fully in charge of affairs, he can not be labelled as a ‘lame duck’ President because he has received his party’s endorsement as their candidate for the upcoming elections in December. It will be interesting to see what decisions he is going to make. Will he think through his decisions properly? Can he be trusted to make the right calls for the benefit of Ghana and in the interest of Ghanaians? Or will he go round in circles and be found wanting? The next few months are going to be crucial for Ghana in terms of leadership and the right decision making, after all, this is the same man who as Vice President of Ghana, without due diligence and full thought process, hastily signed the STX housing deal with the Koreans which has now failed embarrassingly. For his first major decision, most people would agree that President Mahama failed the test.

Young Nkrumaist Movement
(A Wing of the CPP)