Opinions of Tue, 14 Jan 20144

Trying Times for President Mahama

Poor John Mahama; these are indeed trying times for the President. He just can’t seem to get a break from the daily dose of gloomy news; mounting doubts about his core competency to govern, a sputtering economy, water and electricity shortages, a strike by the nation’s health-care providers and a general sense that the nation is adrift. It is a depressing scenario.

Saddled with this dreary background, who would want to trade places with Mahama? I certainly won’t. Not even for a sizeable and handsome remuneration to go with a palatial palace and all the trappings of modern life.

Managing the affairs of a nation of nearly 27 million restless souls is a monumental and daunting task, a job that requires dexterity and an abundance of patience. These attributes come in handy once you assume the mantle of leadership and are instantly placed under a microscope and intensely scrutinized, psychoanalyzed, and brow-beaten at every turn.

Last year’s general elections exposed the ugly underbelly of Ghanaian society; it is infected with a tribal virus, and that is stating it mildly. Ethnic hatred is at all-time high. Mahama’s election as the nation’s chief executive predictably inflamed tribal emotions that had been bubbling at the surface. A horde of critics were instantly created. Their criticism and charges against Mahama drip with tribal overtones.

Their first line of action – filing a lawsuit to challenge the President’s election - raised eyebrows and quickly signaled that the critics led by the recently vanquished NPP would spare no effort to make the President’s reign difficult, and if they have way, truncated.

To bolster their bona-fides as sworn political foes of the President they boycotted his inauguration to the chagrin of political observers both at home and abroad who had hoped that attendance at the inauguration by all political parties and especially by the defeated party meant the bitterness and rancor of the election campaign were in the past.

Mahama’s foes pinned their hopes for electoral redemption on the Justices of the Supreme Court. Convinced there was a preponderance of “foolproof evidence” to vindicate their claim that the election was rigged heavily in the President’s favor, they were immeasurably distraught over the “slowness “of the process. They were particularly galled that the defendant in the lawsuit, the President, was given ample time to prepare a defense.

In the interim what did they do? They thronged the various media outlets in Accra to continue assailing the President. Their strategy was to mix ad hominem attacks with policy critique and hope that confidence in the President and in his ability to govern will erode. In truth, they want the President’s head on a platter.

Truth be told, President Mahama’s woes are self-inflicted. He came into office with a promise to make life better for Ghanaians by transforming the economy and creating opportunities for the millions of unemployed clogging the streets of urban centers.

But he has stumbled rather badly; a series of policy missteps have diverted his attention away from the urgent task of righting the economy. Contrary to charges that he is clueless, I am convinced that the President is committed to long term sustainable growth of the economy.

Mahama’s critics may revel in his current troubles, but their euphoria will be short-lived; he will surely bounce back, re-energized and primed to do good things for the nation.

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