Opinions of Tue, 20 Mar 201824
Why John Dramani Mahama should not contest the NDC flagbearership
There is no gainsaying that former President John Dramani Mahama, while he was President of Ghana, in 2016, handed the NDC its worst defeat in its electoral history. Undoubtedly, the former President had all the powers, money, influence and indeed all advantages of incumbency. He nevertheless lost miserably!! How does the team that is masterminding his return into frontline NDC politics hoping to convince anyone that the former President can do better when he lacks those enormous powers today?
Does the former President need a soothsayer to tell him that Ghanaians were just not impressed with his leadership style? What the former President must know is that, even if he wins the flagbearership race in the NDC, he is very unlikely to win a national election, especially Election 2020. The earlier he knows this, the better for him!!
John Dramani Mahama as President, did some of the most questionable and nauseating things as a social democrat, leading a party that has the grassroots made up of many vulnerable people as the masses, on whose strength the party usually spring to victory. While being President, John Dramani Mahama stated openly and categorically that even if he had to lose the elections, he would NOT restore allowances to teacher trainees and nursing trainees. So now that he has lost, why does he want to come back?
The ruling NPP government has restored these allowances, albeit they are struggling to sustain same. If former President Mahama returns as President, would he once again cancel these allowances to these trainees?
Or it is to be believed that he would retain the status quo? If he ever felt so strongly about the non-restoration of these allowances, doesn’t it seem more probable that in his second term as President when he would no longer be eligible to re-contest, he would have even more incentive to cancel same and damn the political consequences?
If he could damn the political consequences of some of these decisions while he was going to be on the ballot paper, how much more when he would no longer be on the ballot paper? Or should one fathom that the former President loves his party so much so that he wouldn’t want to jeopardize its ability to win future elections?
That would be quite an irrational conclusion to make because if John Dramani Mahama loved his party so much, he wouldn’t be contemplating contesting the next NDC primaries. He should or ought to have realized that any such attempt would be dimming the political fortunes of his great party.
Even if the former President were to win a national election, he would only serve ONE TERM, meaning NDC will have to come back in 2022, while JDM would be in office as President, to look for another flagbearer for the Party. So if NDC must necessarily look for a new leader in 2022, then why doesn’t it do that search now?
Surely the popular saying that there is no smoke without fire is true. It is rumoured that John Dramani Mahama could possibly lead a process to remove term limits while serving as President if he ever gets the chance to rule this country after Election 2020. It is only greed that can drive anyone to harbor these machinations!! Yes, simple greed!!
Many in the NDC and even outside that party, felt that former President Mahama surrounded himself with the wrong set of people. Many of these persons were largely inexperienced and pushed out most of the experienced former appointees of former President Rawlings. There is no evidence that John Dramani Mahama will change that management style if ever becomes President again.
Some nearly 200 journalists had signed a petition asking the former President to replace Stan Dogbe, a key and pivotal figure then at the Presidency, but he ignored this advice from such a powerful group, leading to bad media relations and reportage for the NDC. The former President’s unwillingness to heed to advice has not changed and there is no sign that it would change anytime soon.
On the contrary, the key people that pushed off many NDC people are still his hangers-on today, and indeed are pushing for his return to power in order for them to perpetrate their wrong doings and continue their sycophantic acts. The former President treated the NDC and its officials with scorn.
This attitude towards the NDC continued to the end of his Presidency, as the former President rarely visited NDC Party Headquarters, and senior Party people who wanted to see him, such as former Party Chairman, Kwabena Adjei and former Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, complained bitterly about being blocked or not being seen at all.
If people of this stature could not be allowed access to John Dramani Mahama when he was President, how much more the foot soldiers whose sweat and untiring efforts bring the NDC to power? Prof. Mills, in less than one term as President, saw to the building of a befitting National Office building for the NDC. John Dramani Mahama, while in office as President for slightly more than four years, could not construct even one small regional or constituency office for the NDC. He simply thought that he was more important than NDC, the vehicle that brought him to power.
According to the NDC Party Headquarters, and corroborated in the Prof. Kwesi Botchwey’s Report, hardly any campaign money passed through the Party’s official channels. The former President used Kofi Adams almost exclusively as the channel for campaign funds, thereby marginalizing the Finance Committee of the Party, and other official structures.
Complaints were replete that monies and other party paraphernalia that were meant for constituencies never reached these constituencies, putting unnecessary and avoidable pressure on constituency executives who on many occasions had to use their personal resources for party activities. How many cars were alleged to have been taken from a party official’s house by relevant state institutions which cars were registered in this officer’s name?
Is there any wonder that just one month after losing the 2016 Elections, the NDC Party announced to its Council of Elders and to former senior appointees that the Party was broke and had no money? It is worth noting that there was no Run-off in the 2016 Elections. If the Party is as broke as we have been made to believe, how was it going to compete in the Run-off Election if there was one?
The allegation from NDC sources is that, John Dramani Mahama created a patronage system where all monies that were due the Party were lodged with him and his wife, and he/they released some funds periodically through the then Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah and Kofi Adams to the Party. This we now know, was a calculated attempt to make the former President a demigod within the Party, controlling enormous resources and depriving the NDC of same so much so that this virtually put the Party on its knees to be begging for funds to enable it run.
Most campaign funds allegedly went to unofficial groups of entertainers, hangers on, musicians and the various opportunistic JDM Groups, e.g. Doves for Mahama, Ladies for Mahama, etc. A man who collapses his own Party does not deserve another chance! Simple!!
Former President Rawlings has made it abundantly clear in various public and private statements that he doesn’t support a return of John Dramani Mahama, as the latter did not take his advice while in office, based on the “Yentie Obiaa” and the “Dead Goat” philosophies. Without the support of former President Jerry John Rawlings, most NDC members believe the Party cannot defeat an NPP government in its first term. The majority of the NDC Council of Elders, chaired by former President Jerry John Rawlings, with Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu as Vice Chairman, have firmly decided that John Dramani Mahama should not attempt to come back. It remains difficult to see how the former President can stage a comeback when this critical leadership of the NDC are dead set against his return.
Undeniably, the NDC needs total rebranding in order to become more attractive and acceptable to the Ghanaian electorate. That re-branding is not possible if we are to present the same candidate or product to consumers who have rejected that specific product. Another rejection looms if the NDC presents the same candidate.
What the former President does not realize is that, the international community does not think he should attempt to return to office, hence their keeping him busy with international assignments. If NDC presents John Dramani Mahama, the Party will not get the international support that is often necessary to win Elections in Ghana and in most other African countries.
Another challenge to a John Mahama’s comeback is the appointment of Martin Amidu as Special Prosecutor. Amidu’s appointment poses potentially serious problems for a John Dramani Mahama candidature, given some of the public pronouncements of Amidu before his appointment. It would be too risky for NDC to present John Dramani Mahama as our candidate in 2019-20, only for NPP and Amidu to present one allegation after another, which even if not successful, would still have damaged the NDC candidate so badly that winning an election would be next to impossibility.
At least, it is known that the Ford Expedition, GYEEDA, Subah, Zoomlion, Bus Branding Scandals are all clear weak points which NDC need not be associated with, as the Party was not privy to these transactions. The NDC must make those who are responsible for criminal acts answer for their misdeeds and the Party should not condone or be seen to be condoning such acts that have undoubtedly deprived the masses of Ghanaians of basic social amenities.
Former President John Mahama and the NDC may be heading to a legal tussle with Martin Amidu who has vowed to challenge the eligibility of the former President to re-contest for President. It is imperative to recollect that Martin Amidu, before becoming Special Prosecutor, was of the view that once John Dramani Mahama has begun to accept the benefits due to a retired President, he cannot then return to attempt to enjoy the benefits of a sitting President, thus enjoying two separate and distinct benefit packages.
Amidu at the time, claimed he was ready to go to Court to stop the former President if he attempted to stage a comeback. Amidu has now been empowered by the title of Special Prosecutor, so there is a serious question for NDC if it wants to select John Dramani Mahama as its running mate only for him to be potentially disqualified by virtue of his having begun to enjoy his Presidential retirement benefits. In other words, if John Dramani Mahama contemplated becoming President again, then he should not have started to enjoy his retirement benefits but rather should have waited until he has finished his so-called second term which he seems to be so desirous of.
It is imperative to note that John Dramani Mahama has enjoyed two NDC internal elections without any competition. He must show that he believes in some of his own appointees as worthy successors, as it cannot be argued that he is the only Presidential material in NDC. If indeed he is the only Presidential material in the NDC, what happens after a last term of the former President assuming without admitting he is given one? As buttressed earlier, if the NDC needs to eventually search for another candidate, the Party would be better off doing that search now. What at all could be the reason for the former President to be wanting to be President again for hook or crook? What would he do differently? Absolutely nothing!! Luckily the signs are too clear he wouldn’t be any better!
One of the most important decisions any President must make is in the selection of his Running-mate. Former President Rawlings’ selection of Prof. Mills turned out to have been smart, as Prof. Mills added a reputation of integrity and efficiency to his government and eventually became President. Similarly, by selecting John Dramani Mahama as his running mate for the 2008 Election, former President Mills selected someone who had Presidential qualities and eventually became President.
However, given the options at his disposal at his time, John Mahama’s selection of Amissah-Arthur as his Running-mate/Vice President, made it clear that he did not wish to have anybody who could potentially become President. There is not even a Senior High School student who believes Amissah-Arthur could become President of Ghana. So why select such a person as your Running-mate, when the former President had such politically savvy and popular Akan candidates as Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, Kwesi Ahwoi, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah and several others who could have done better for the former President and the NDC than Amissah- Arthur?
Such bad decisions have called the quality of John Dramani Mahama’s political decisions into question. Indeed, the selection of Amissah-Arthur as his Running-mate/Vice President, eventually turned out to be one of the former President’s worst decisions, as Amissah-Arthur did very little to add to NDC votes in 2012 and 2016. As Vice President, Amissah-Arthur cannot be remembered for any memorable achievements for the Ghanaian economy or for the worlds of banking or finance, where he was thought to be an expert. Worse of all, Amissah-Arthur, the most important appointment by John Dramani Mahama, turned out to be a complete disaster as he failed woefully to respond to the many jabs and barbs by Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia the then Vice Presidential candidate of the NPP. Famously, Amissah-Arthur declared at a rally in Sunyani that he would respond to each of the 117 questions or so posed to NDC by Dr. Bawumia, then went on and answered not even one.
Senior NDC insiders confide that even though former President Rawlings permitted Prof. Mills as Vice President, to Chair ALL Cabinet Meetings, where John Dramani Mahama was present as a Minister; and Prof Mills, in turn, allowed John Dramani Mahama to Chair many Cabinet Meetings, John Dramani Mahama’s personal insecurity was such that he did not allow Amissah-Arthur, as his Vice President, to chair even ONE Cabinet meeting. So, according to friends of Amissah-Arthur, the former Vice President Amissah-Arthur often thought of resigning from his job. It is noteworthy that sometimes Cabinet meetings were not held for up to nearly one month because John Dramani Mahama had traveled or otherwise engaged. The former President is definitely not someone who believes others can succeed him. It is either him or no body. That kind attitude should be condemned in no uncertain terms.
Friends of the former Vice President also confide that John Dramani Mahama did not take his work very seriously, and often begun work after 11.00am after spending most of the preceding night entertaining himself. Although allegations of corruption against the former President are yet to be proven, such former close associates of the former President as Daniel Osei, former Ghana Ambassador to Dubai, are well-known to have turned against the former President mainly due to the wanton display of opulence and wealth that Ambassador Osei and others saw the former President exhibit even outside Ghana, especially when in Dubai. Many such appointees fear that a one-term John Dramani Mahama after 2020, will have no reason to restrain himself and the NDC will be the one to suffer the most.
The business community in Ghana are particularly determined that the former President does not rule Ghana again. Allegations are replete from this group about how various contracts won by some were forcibly taken away from them and awarded to companies owned by the brothers of the former President or in alignment with them. In addition, the Dumso episodes during John Dramani Mahama’s term, high interest rates, yo-yo exchange rates, micro-finance scandals, and other high-taxation policies championed by the former President and Seth Terkper angered the business community. It is these businessmen who are spurring and supporting some of the Aspirants to make it impossible for John Dramani Mahama to even win an NDC Congress or flagbearership election.
John Dramani Mahama has met with at least eight of the ten regional caucuses of the NDC, with a view to gaining their support for a comeback. Several of the meetings ended in disasters, as these older NDC former appointees have made it clear to John Dramani Mahama that he abandoned them while in office, so they do not see any merit or wisdom in his attempts to return to office.
If the former President is concerned about being relevant in the political discourse of Ghana, it will be in his own interest to hang his boots and rally support behind any person the NDC shall elect to lead the Party in Election 2020. If in the midst of all these, John Dramani Mahama still contests the NDC Presidential primaries that will only be reinforcing the long-held reality that the former President can be very indecisive and often suffers indiscretion and is indeed a “Dead Goat”.
His decision to contest would reinforce the view that the former President is going to do nothing differently in the unlikely event he is given the nod. Even if he will do anything differently as President, it would be doing the worse this time around, after all that will be his last time of running for office as President.