A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR JOHN MAHAMA AT 60
By Dele Momodu
Fellow Africans, if you had access to this column last week, you must have seen, or read, the special tribute I penned for one of Africa’s greatest leaders of the 21stcentury, the former President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr John Dramani Mahama.
The question I have had to answer, countless times, before and after, is that if Mahama was that brilliant, visionary and efficacious, why did he lose the Presidential election? My candid answer always is that the most brilliant students can fail exams for reasons other than intellect and brilliance. I can say with all emphasis at my disposal that Mahama did not lose the 2016 Presidential election in Ghana because he did not perform. He lost for some other known and unknown reasons that history will ultimately reveal.
Let me also add, very quickly, that there is this uncanny similarity between Nigeria and Ghana, in many facets of our political trajectory. The history of our two countries have shown how we are like Siamese twins, joined together in many parts than one organ. Whenever there has been a coup d’etat in Nigeria, Ghana’s was going to follow soon, or vice versa. We seem to share a common destiny. Once President Goodluck Jonathan lost his election in 2015, it was almost surreally certain that President John Dramani Mahama was going to follow a similar path of catastrophe in Ghana given the similarity in the manner in which both had been elevated to the Presidency. The Opposition, led by President Buhari, was able to win in Nigeria because of a blistering campaign of calumny against Jonathan. He was given uncharitable monikers and sobriquets, some not undeserved, like clueless, incompetent, corrupt, ditherer and so on. The Opposition also painted a capacity for possessing magical powers to turn Nigeria into an Eldorado overnight. I would have been surprised if the Ghanaian opposition did not borrow a leaf from the Nigerian experiment which saw the collapse of the PDP behemoth after ruling Nigeria for 16 years.
One sure banker for any African opposition is to successfully label the ruling party as blatantly corrupt. Every poor man sees a corrupt politician as the source of his abysmal poverty and failure in life. In Nigeria, many would swear today that Jonathan suffered, and was severely punished, for the sins of his reckless, profligate and thieving subordinates and acolytes. It is certain that Mahama suffered the same fate in Ghana. I was close enough to him and knew Mahama had not amassed the kind of personal wealth and resources ascribed to him. I was stunned during his campaign to see how he panicked about his inability to fund many of his activities. This often generated arguments between me and some of my Ghanaian friends who could not believe my personal observations. They based their lack of faith on the circumstantial evidence that some of his cronies lived larger than life. It was the same story in Jonathan’s Nigeria.
Jonathan also lost the Presidential election due largely to the war of attrition that ravaged his party. Mahama faced a similar rebellion in his own NDC party, where a lot of relevant and influential members felt sidelined and waited for the opportune moment to retaliate in a most devastating manner. The campaign that there was monumental corruption and looting in the Jonathan government resonated with the foreign powers based on damning reports filed by their local representatives. They were sold on the belief that those who would take power were men and women of impeccable pedigree and integrity. The same was the case in Ghana. Some damaging reports circulated on the eve of Ghanaian elections purportedly linked Mahama and members of his family to concrete plans to militarise the country and cause maximum mayhem in order to win the election, by fire and by force. But this story was nothing other than a hoax. As a matter of fact, anyone who knows Mahama well would know he can never, deliberately, hurt a fly. Mahama did not enjoy the appurtenances of power to the extent that he would get so addicted and become a sit-tight ruler. As President, he lived in a very modest home and shunned the ostentations and trappings of the more ceremonial bpState Houses. His official car was a simple Toyota Avalon, and a few jeeps only followed in tow. Sometimes, he rode his power bike on the streets escorted by undercover agents. On occasions, we went out together in the evening to have dinner at the popular Urban Grill and he would sit alone in the car with his younger brother, Energy, as his driver, and no security in sight. He participated in a family farm of poultry, cattle and grains on some vast land in Akosombo area. I learnt so much from his exceptional humility. He was not a perfect human being, like all mortals, but he worked assiduously to place Ghana on the path of economic buoyancy via infrastructural revolution, the reason his fans called him Kwame Nkrumah II.
I will not belabour you with many of his phenomenal achievements. Not even the most vociferous of his critics would accuse him of not working for the greatness of Ghana. His biggest albatross was that he took too many bold steps and risked everything in the process. He told Ghanaians the uncommon truth about the state of things and didn’t know how to pretend that all was well when it wasn’t. He told Ghanaians they would have to pay for every convenience they enjoyed and there would be no freebies. He paid dearly for his unusual courage, especially for blatantly refusing to being your typical run-of-the-mill politician with sugar-coated tongue.
Two years after losing that election, Mahama seems to be enjoying a bounce and resurgence. Many who had criticised him for all manner of malfeasance are beginning to eat and swallow their own words. Some are even apologising for hurting him so much in the past. The best of such apologies went viral during the week. I won’t tantalise you, but will publish the open letter to Mahama, for your reading delight. Let me say that I do not know the author, but whosoever wrote this piece did so from the heart. Nigerians have a lot to learn from the Ghanaian saga as we head to the polls again in less than three months. It teaches us to be wary of slanderous campaigns without any iota of proof of misdemeanour. We must weigh our options clearly and not just rely on the aberrant behaviour of a few to hang the multitude. In Nigeria, this goes both ways. Please enjoy…
MR MAHAMA, STOP CAMPAIGNING AND FORM YOUR GOVERNMENT – “WE ARE SORRY “
Dear Mr Mahama,
May I please, respectfully, send my sincerest apologies to yourself and your government.
I have now realised that statements I made in the press, posted on my social media platforms were disruptive and ill-informed. I sincerely regret having made any disrespectful comments and I herein unreservedly apologise in this regard to yourself and your government.
With my fake change lenses off, I can now see much more clearly how much good your government brought to the country and the infrastructural development it bequeathed to the land.
Mr Mahama, I apologise unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of governance issues. If there is anything I can do to remedy my mistake, please let me know as I only want the best for you and Ghana. I have written officially to all the radio stations I lambasted you on, the newspapers that published my articles against your government, my church members who grouped to listen to my lies and falsehood every Sunday, the thousands who follow me on social media platforms and the websites. I will state few of the many reasons why I am rendering this apology but before I do that, I thank you in advance for your indulgence and understanding of an uniformed Ghanaian.
When Kweku Kyen forwarded videos of you campaigning in the Ashanti Region, I asked him “why you wasting resources on the campaign”. You should be thinking about how you going to continue your governance magic after the 2020 election. Ghanaians today are going through deep pains inflicted on them by this government and no amount of manipulation of the citizenry, the electoral commission and other state institutions can make Ghanaians change their resolve to vote out the Npp government in 2020.
Mr Mahama, I campaigned against you in 2012 and did same in 2016. I am a registered member of the Npp and have supported the party in many ways and at different levels. I took it upon myself to make you and your government unpopular because of what I was told about you, your wife, Ibrahim and some of your appointees. We were told you own hotels in Dubai and other places, we were told you have a gold refinery shop in South Africa, your wife owns (sic) shops in South Africa and Equatorial Guinea. We contracted a company in Belgium to investigate these allegations and the results we got were negative. Those who made these allegations during the election and vigorously defended them on Radio in Europe and the United (sic) States, have suddenly gone quiet and will not respond to calls and messages for further and better particulars on the allegations. I and those who supported candidate Akufo Addo and the Npp cannot take the blame for the shocking state we find ourselves.
As an editor of powerful newspaper and online radio station, I worked with a group of brilliant minds to counter whatever (sic) rumour or policy was put out by your government. I doubt the President got the LinkedIn (sic) page that I set for him. As one of Nana’s ardent supporters, this was all unpaid brought from a place of conviction. Nothing was asked for, nothing was received. Just to keep Mahama out for the man I thought was incorruptible with the magic wand to take over. I didn’t know I (sic) was preparing a suicide rope for myself and family.
Mr Mahama, once again I say sorry. Why campaigning? Ghanaians have seen the truth and describing as they’ve become, are calmly waiting for 2020 to come for the Npp to tell them where your hotels are situated, why you’ve not been prosecuted, why they are (sic) commissioning and recommissioning cost inflated projects. Ghanaians will ask them to explain why they borrowed more than your government when we told them we have all the monies needed for our projects here. They will demand to know the projects implemented from the loans. They will ask why Transparency International downgraded Ghana under our government, why teachers are going to do national service, why the 100 year bond, why the double track system the associated problems. They will demand explanation why the President has appointed over 40 members of his family into his administration, why the cedi broke jail, why the weekly fuel price increase. While demanding for answers, Ghanaians will be looking at your projects in their communities and those whose projects were abandoned after 2016 will continue to pray and fast for the clock to run faster. (sic)
This time round, I should be consistent and honorable enough to tell my President as it is and apologise to you for what I said, wrote and preached about you.
Thank you Sir. (sic)
(Eugene Nana Poku ).
The content of that letter remains that of the writer and does not necessarily mirror the total reality in Ghana today. Like the case in Nigeria, many supporters of the ruling government in Ghana still believe the current President has delivered on his promises. It is always the job of the opposition to disagree and throw sand in the garri of the incumbent. What is clear in all this is that no government can please everyone and also that there is serious danger in over-promising before taking power. You may end up blaming the past government not only for their much publicised ills, but also for failing to do virtually everything you promised while in opposition.
Meanwhile, the clock of governance is clicking and ticking away at supersonic speed…