By Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
It was not for nothing that the late General Kutu Acheampong observed that “Ghanaians are difficult people”. If we can unpack this loaded observation and place it within the context of current goings-on, we should know ourselves better. We should use that knowledge to re-position ourselves for nation building.
Some people have asked me several times why I continue to support President Mahama and his government despite the growing public concern that they are not solving problems to improve living conditions in the country. Others have been quick to label me as a sycophant or a heartless Ghanaian living outside the country and not aware of the dire circumstances in which the citizens live. In effect, they wonder why anybody should support the President when he is “incompetent”.
All of a sudden, President Mahama has become their dirty bath water to be thrown away. Those political opponents who have not seen anything good coming from President Mahama have even gone to the extent of soiling his image with unfounded allegations of corruption, immorality, and insensitivity to the plight of the people. They are demanding that he should resign to prevent Ghana from collapse.
I have weighed such viewpoints for some time now and can confidently explain my stance. I have supported President Mahama and will continue to support him for all that he is. He is functioning as provided for by the Constitution and has appointed personalities to various offices to manage affairs. What about him suggests that he has failed to perform his duties as constitutionally mandated?
The problem with the Ghanaian is finger-pointing instead of putting shoulders to the wheel. The Ghanaian is counting the hour instead of what he/she can do within the hour. Nation building is a collective effort and can be done only when we work together. Not so for those who have chosen not to have anything to do with the government just because they are not in power. They are those leading the band of frustrated and aggrieved elements to create the impression that Ghana is doomed under Mahama. Ask them for alternative measures to solve problems, and they shrink.
In our democratic dispensation, we shouldn’t make the mistake to think that hounding President Mahama will solve any problem. It won’t, and those leading the Mahama-loathing pack had better think deeply.
John Dramani Mahama didn’t impose himself on Ghanaians as their President. Destiny invested him with that status and its pertinent responsibilities, beginning as an MP for Bole-Bamboi and rising to the rank of Vice President until July 24, 2012 when Fate uplifted him as the fount of authority in Ghana at the sudden passing on of Professor John Evans Atta Mills (May he rest in perfect peace). Rising to that status was unexpected but justified by our own 1992 Constitution.
The fact must be stressed here that as Vice President, John Mahama performed the duties of his office with distinction, reinforcing public perception of him as such. Of course, he was no stranger to public office, having already held several portfolios in the Rawlings administration as a Deputy Minister and a substantive Minister, respectively.
In demeanour, he hasn’t worn his authority and power on his sleeves to bulldoze his way through the terrain as others are known for doing. He has remained in his usual affable element, even if he does so to a fault (especially in terms of not-so-captivating charisma or not being aggressively pushful). He comes across as “soft” but not necessarily malleable or unfocused. He is not the arrogant, self-righteous type but a cool, calm, and collected kind. Those who mistake that demeanour for weakness are all over the place, howling and growling out their frustration at not being able to break down his resolve. They are Ghana’s worst problems, not John Mahama.
It needs saying here that the kind of leadership that President Mahama provides may be the laid-back one, which is being easily misconstrued as weak, unproductive, and catalyzing incompetence. I disagree, even though I wish he would be more resolute than he has been to date.
A good leader doesn’t necessarily have to be all over the place, pushing everybody around, and insisting on having things done his way to prove that he is the be-it-all-and-end-it-all. Nation building is a collective effort and no one should deceive himself about it. Those who have taken it upon themselves to create the impression that he is not the kind of leader that Ghana needs should re-think.
What did Ghanaians see in him to elect him as their President despite the stentorian appeals by his political opponents? Has he lost those qualities? Has he failed anywhere in the performance of his constitutionally mandated functions? How can we support him to rediscover his mojo (if he has lost it in the maze)?
The main problem that seems to be drawing back efforts at developing the country is the penchant to point accusing fingers, to sit on the fence, or to dig in all the more as armchair critics of the kind whose negative public/political posturing and hate-filled rhetoric are creating the impression that John Mahama is Ghana’s headache. Or that he is a curse to eradicate.
Those political opponents yelling themselves hoarse and manipulating unwitting elements to take to the streets are the real problems. Those of them issuing useless ultimatums that President Mahama should resign within three months are Ghana’s problem.
Above all, those who have chosen to criticize everything concerning this administration and not contribute their quota toward nation building (until they enter political office) are the worst problems. They are denying the country their input and turning Mahama into the bull’s eye for their archery at the margins. But they will fail to nail him because he is in power at the will of the electorate.
What saddens me all the more is that by isolating President Mahama as if they’ve chosen him for a special vengeance, they make it easy for the unsuspecting segments of the population to assume that he is the cause of their woes. And once they see things that way, they become easy tools to be used for potential nation-wrecking activities. This kind of politics of deception won’t build Ghana.
I am, however, not ignorant of this kind of “rogue politics” being done by them. These anti-Mahama elements are only picking a leaf from the history of their political tradition. In the pre-independence era, they masterminded the denigration of the Great Osagyefo (their main opponent whom they constructed as an enemy to be exterminated). They started it in the immediate post-independence era only to be met with draconian measures (such as the Preventive Detention Act and the turning of Ghana into a one-party state with Nkrumah as the Life President). Nkrumah had no option but to turn full circle in using the powers vested in him to clamp down heavily on them. Then, they seized the self-created opportunity to brand him as an unrepentant dictator to be snuffed out by any means possible—the Kulungugu bomb attack on him in 1962, for example.
Failing to accomplish their diabolical goal in that attempt, they resorted to doing acts and making utterances to create panic in the country. Just consider all the negative propaganda against Nkrumah, which they would eventually use to support aggression against him. And when the external forces stepped in, they became willing internal collaborators to kick him out. Ghana hasn’t rediscovered itself ever since. They are out today, revisiting that agenda to use in our contemporary times. They did it to Jerry Rawlings and Atta Mills too; but this time round, they are deceived. No matter what they do, they will not succeed in undermining the authority of President Mahama. They had better put their own house in order.
In the final analysis, those of us supporting President Mahama will continue to do so. We will continue to criticize him when he falls short; and we will continue to urge Ghanaians to sink their political differences and lend support to efforts aimed at rebuilding the country. Only such an approach can help us grow our democracy.
Once the polls are over and a winner emerges, it is incumbent on us all to support him to do what we expect. Distancing oneself from him and pitting camp as avowed political antagonists won’t contribute anything toward solving pertinent problems. As is already evident from the negative politics being done by the anti-Mahama camp, there is every reason to conclude that the political waters will remain muddied. Our democracy cannot grow unless such elements rethink their attitude and approach to politics.
As for me and my household, we know who our President is and will continue to support him. Those who don’t want to can choose to growl all they can. Building Ghana demands more than they have done so far. The main issue to ponder is: What are we doing wherever we are to support the incumbent in building Ghana? Useless threats, purely destructive criticisms and insults won’t facilitate nation building.
I shall return…
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