How different is JM of today as compared to the past

John Mahama Sosp Former President John Mahama

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

The highlight of the former President list of reasons given for his quest to be elected as the Presidential Candidate of the NDC and hopefully the President of Ghana was in his own words, “to right the wrongs of the past”.

This was meant to be the assurance of a man who had reflected on the past, realised his mistakes and seeking another opportunity to rectify those mistakes.

It was a far cry from his initial position that a weak party (lame horse) led to the defeat of the NDC and not necessary an incompetent leader or per his analogy, a bad horse rider.

Months down the line and I want to hold our former president to his own words and analyse how different he is or how the same tape is replayed to us.

His Message In the 2016 elections, President Mahama had little time talking about his vision for the nation, he made the campaign about his opponents and kept telling Ghanaians that their promises were impossible. When his opponents succeeded in convincing Ghanaians that they could do all that they had promised and that JM doubted them due to the fact that he was visionless and incompetent, it was easier for voters to believe them.

Has he changed?

In President Mahama’s quest to come again, his focus and approach hasn’t changed, the average Ghanaian or even the NDC delegates cannot tell exactly what the former president will do if he becomes the president of Ghana. He remains all about his opponents and very little about what he has to offer. His attacks on current government policies haven’t come with clear alternatives the average Ghanaian voters can relate to.

This implies that in the area of approach, we can expect same old JM if given the chance. The question is: will the average swing voter buy exactly what they rejected four years prior when the signs are that the key tool for convincing people to vote, the message hasn’t been rebranded?

The Team

One of the things that went against the Ex-President was down to some of the people he worked with while in office, with the chief of them all being Stan Dogbe. When he went to the Party Headquarters for his vetting, he had the following people with him. Mr Julius Debrah, Madam Shirley Ayitey, Joyce Bawah Muntari, Omane Boamah and Stan Dogbe and a host of others who played key roles in his government.

Indeed, no one expects the former president to change everyone, someone like Julius Debrah was largely seen to have played his role well as the Chief of staff and related well with the party which was very far apart from the government prior to his appointment.

However, seeing Stan Dogbe with the former President and still pulling the strings is a clear indication that even in terms of personnel, Mahama has no plan of doing away with even the bad nuts who dented his presidency with so much negativity.

To still hold Stan Dogbe so high simply implies that in terms of team, if given the chance, Mahama will not update his team, more of the same should be expected. In his visit to the Chief of Akyem Abuakwa, Amoatia Ofori Panyin, the respected traditional leader complained about the disrespectful Stan Dogbe.

I don’t know how many floating voters and professionals who voted against him will be inspired when it is apparent that the same uninspiring core will be at the helm.

The Style

Edey bee dey bee dey bee oo, John Mahama dey bee, Onaapo Mahama onaapo are songs that may never be forgotten. Singing and dancing was a prominent feature in a Mahama Campaign prior to the 2016 elections. His campaign was akin to a street carnival, the funfair dominated the message.

Even without being elected, arrangement has been made to remix the Borbolibobo hit song to be added to the already long JM campaign playlist. When you go to a campaign and you are wowed by the music than the message, you went to a street jam. At elections, most people vote based on the message and not the music. The changed former President has clearly not changed in this respect.

Subtle digs and sarcasm

Even with his unquestionable communication credentials, our former president seems to lack so much when it comes to campaign communication, he prefers to speak to excite people than to speak to provoke people into deeper reflection. It is fun listening to him but you go home with very little to make you question your stance against him.

Much hasn’t changed in this respect, same sarcastic reference to these opponents, overemphasis on his opponent message and very little about what he has to offer.

President Mahama addresses a campaign gathering as though everyone is a party diehard. Even though he wants to use his supposed nationwide popularity as the trump card to appeal to delegates and hence more placing emphases on national issues than tailored message for the party, he has done very little to indicate exactly what he will do aside the promise to better what has been initiated by the current government and not being done well in his estimation. Same as he was in 2016, so is he in this area too.

Access to JM

One of the major highlights of JM as President was how the NDC as a party was out of sync with the government as led by the President. It was so worrying that even Hon Alban Bagbin, party big wig and currently a Flagbearer hopeful, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, General Secretary of NDC and Dr Kwabena Adjei, party chairman at the time raised concerns.

The response was an attack on Bagbin by the very people who had blocked the door to the President. Today, information from the areas our former president has visited in his quest to re-lead the party is that the same people don’t allow delegates to ask questions or interact with the former President.

It is one thing making a verbal declaration that you have changed and another living daily and doing things that conform to the confession. Unfortunately, it appears the confession of the former president was a strategy to silence those with legitimate questions about the need for his return. He had to say something and the only reasonable thing to say was to hit the emotional bottom and tell the world; “I have realised my mistakes, give me the chance to make things better”.

If JM used to change to give reason to his return, then the ordinary NDC delegate ought to know that the former president recognises the fact that Ghanaians rejected him because they were not impressed and that the only way the NDC will expand its appeal is to win the trust of the people that indeed they have something different to offer. This is only possible with a new candidate who hasn’t tried and failed to deliver at the highest level of leadership.

With Hon. Alban Bagbin, Prof Joshua Alabi and Ekow Spio Gabrah available to pick from, it makes no sense that some executives of the party still want to tilt the race for the flagbearer to favour a sitting president who failed to pull a runoff.

What the NDC is failing to recognise is the pressing need to rebrand the party to halt the increasing decline in the party’s popularity among our ever-increasing elite class.

In the 2016 elections, of the 72 universities with polling stations, the NDC lost in 69 and won only three, this is a clear indication that the party is losing appeal of the party’s growing unpopularity the more people get enlightened.

Under JM’s leadership, the NDC completely lost Academia and the Business Community. These are the people who largely make-up the swing voters in this country and no one can become president without appealing to the majority of them.

JM has done nothing to appeal to these brains and hence the result of his quest to be president again can be seen from afar. Mahama can’t win back the votes NDC lost with the same rejected approach.

A new candidate will inspire floating voters, paint a picture of a truly rebranded party and give the NPP a good run for their money. The NPP is very much beatable, but cannot be JM

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh