-A case study of the 'Dansoman Presidential Apology'
The outcome of the recent presidential election in Nigeria should serve as a guide and reference point to many Ghanaians, especially the ruling National Democratic Congress, going into the 2016 crucial elections.
Lessons from the Nigerian presidential election is vital to the NDC because some of the factors that contributed to the painful defeat of incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party in Nigeria are also playing out in the governing National Democratic Congress here in Ghana.
Among the factors that punctured President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid was the indifference of some of his appointees who did not stand up to provide the kind of shield needed to parry needless attacks on the president by his opponents and showcasing the good works of the regime.
Ironically, that seems to be the fate of Ghana's President, John Dramani Mahama. His appointees, who should form a shield around him so he will be the last to fall, have all taken backstage, leaving the President to be bombarded left, right and center.
Their laid-back attitude has compelled President Mahama to now, virtually, become his own official spokesperson and that of his government when, indeed, that shouldn't be case.
What then becomes the role of the numerous appointees like ministers, their deputies, chief executives of public corporations and boards of government organizations and the numerous Public Relations Officers charged with responsibility to speak to issues relating to actions and policies of government?
Example of how the President has been left alone in the midst hungry political lions to feed on was when he was recently compelled to apologize to residents of Dansoman for suffering long period of power outage during the May Day celebrations at the Independence Square in Accra last week.
Speaking at the May Day celebration in Accra, President Mahama said "As I was preparing to come here this morning, I kept receiving numerous complaints from ordinary Ghanaians of having been without power for between 48 and 72 hours instead of the 24 hours advertised. This was particularly so, I am told, in Dansoman last week when residents went nearly five days without power due...to a fault in the system"
"I wish to apologize to our brothers and sisters who live in the Dansoman area for the inconvenience they had to go through and I urge our electricity distribution companies in this time of crisis to fully deploy their customer service capacities to be able to respond to customer concerns in a timely fashion," the president said.
If appointees of government responsible for the energy sub-sector were alive to their responsibilities, why would it take residents of Dansoman to complain directly to the president and why must it take the President to apologize to the residents?
Paradoxically, some Ghanaians have capitalized on the opportunity to berate the President, shredding his public image into tatters after the apology while his numerous appointees at the ECG, the Power ministry among others have their public image intact.
Since the last two years when the devastating power crisis started, instead of Ghanaians venting their anger on managers of the Power sector, VRA, GRIDCO and the Electricity Company of Ghana all headed by a Chief Executives, the President suddenly became the convenient scapegoat subjected to all manner of attacks in the matter of the 'dumsor'.
This has been so because of the nonchalant attitude of officers responsible to feed the public with the right and timely information on the energy crisis, compelling the President, most often, to intervene to rescue his government, thereby constantly giving timelines and information, which often turned out to be inaccurate.
Most appalling as the Dansoman incident may be, it is also a microcosm of what pertains in other sectors in the Mahama administration!
The President could have been saved the backlash if Ministers in charge, their deputies, chief executives and PROs of the utility companies and ministries had taken up their responsibilities serious. If the president’s appointees have been up and doing, it wouldn’t have taken the ordinary Ghanaians to call on the president to complain about the extensive outages as the he revealed.
There are countless instances where functionaries of government, either deliberately or ignorantly, fail to do what is expected of them, thereby pushing the President himself to intervene, only later to end up being embarrassed or thereby suffer underserved attacks.
In a related development, Managing Editor of Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Tuesday, appealed to President Mahama to sack some of his advisers and ministers who have made it a habit to continually ill-advise him on the power situation.
Speaking on Peace fm’s Kokrokoo program, the Insight Managing Editor fumed “Why are the people still at post, if you mislead the President you have to go home, no two ways about it…that is what would make people know that this is a serious time and no one would be forgiven for mistakes…,” He further expressed regret about President Mahama’s failure to axe these persons claiming it is not the best to continue to use the services of persons with deceitful tongues.
“They must not continue to be at post…however under the current situation, they remain at post after making the mistakes….why and why?,” he rhetorically asked repeatedly.