Former President John Mahama’s aide, Mrs Joyce Bawa Mogtari, has said the insults hurled at her cousin and boss John Mahama by her sister Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba in the lead-up to the 2016 general elections “were most unfortunate” and “needless”.
“We can all criticise each other to a point but I think when you go to a certain level, it's just smacks of needless animosity and nobody deserves or needs that and I think President Mahama has carried himself with enormous stoicism in the face of all of that but, of course, in the aftermath of what has happened."
"I think, in many ways, people have judged her [Otiko] and judged her wrongly; maybe in a more undeserving way than she even deserved and I wished that those things hadn’t happened because I believe that she would have actually gained a lot more sympathy if she hadn’t gone to that extent, and, of course, when she had the opportunity even at a very great platform to try and make amends, she declined. Most unfortunate”, Mrs Bawa Mogtari told Felicity Naana Nelson on Class91.3FM’s Straight Talk on Thursday, 21 November 2019.
Asked if she ever confronted her sister about those attacks on Mr Mahama, to whom they are both related, Mrs Mogtari said: “...She’s eleven years older, she knows about wisdom; I’m sure she knows best, I know a lot of things she taught me growing up; I can see no reason why she would be expecting advice from me or any level of counsel from me. I think if there’s anything that I know, she knows even better”.
Following the former Gender, Child and Social Protection Minister’s voluntary exit from the Akufo-Addo government after she was made an Ambassador to Italy, her sister said: “I’ve heard comments people have passed in recent times that: ‘Oh, but she said all these things about her own relative, so, what do you expect?’ Most unfortunate”.
During her vetting for the ministerial position in 2017, Ms Otiko, who was asked by Tamale North MP, Mr Alhassan Suhuyini if she was willing to apologise to her cousin for the names she called him during the campaign season, insisted before the Appointments Committee that Mr Mahama was, indeed, “wicked” and “an embarrassment” to the people of the regions in the north.
“I don’t owe him [Mr Mahama] or you [Alhassan Suhuyini] any apology...” she said in response to the question, explaining: “My comment about he being an embarrassment was in relation to SADA [Savanna Accelerated Development Authority]. It was in relation to SADA that I said he had embarrassed northerners and the northern chiefs themselves had come to say same,” Ms Djaba justified on Monday, 30 January 2017.
She said: “When I talked about his wickedness, the people of Ghana were asking for reductions, they were asking for ‘dumsor’ to be solved, people were losing jobs and so forth...what I said was within the context of that period.”
When asked by Tamale South MP Haruna Iddrisu if she would withdraw those words owing to their harshness, which the Minority took “strong exception to”, Ms Djaba retorted: “Are you saying that we cannot criticise in this country? Are you saying that my right to speak [is curtailed?] … It was not an insult, it was a criticism and I’m allowed as a citizen of Ghana to criticise the president and these are descriptive words, it is not an insult.”
Asked by Mr Iddrisu if she stood by her words, Ms Djaba said: “Yes Mr Chairman...I did not insult the President, I criticised him.”
In 2014, Ms Djaba told Moro Awudu on Radio XYZ’s breakfast show: “This President [Mr Mahama] is not serious. He has embarrassed a lot of northerners.”
Reacting to Mr Mahama’s promise, at the time, to progressively make senior high school education free as announced in the State of the Nation address presented to parliament in that year, Ms Djaba said: “He’s embarrassing mother Ghana and the IMF is telling him that: ‘E no dey go well’, so he should stop the ‘edey be k3k3’, put down his Dubai things and get down to the ground and give us the bread and butter things that we need for the development of this country”.
Also, in the heat of the 2016 campaigns, Ms Djaba said: "President Mahama’s time is up...President Mahama is extremely wicked, and, so, he must step down. We need change, we need someone who is passionate about this country. You have to vote massively for Nana Akufo-Addo. We need change this year. Your time is up, President Mahama.”