Folks, let’s be blunt upfront to admit that ex-President John Dramani Mahama couldn’t solve Ghana’s systemic problems and suffered as such at Election 2016. Whatever he did or failed to do still exists for public scrutiny and discussion to determine his contributions to Ghana. Whatever his avowed political opponents used against him to be placed in power is now staring squarely at them. How they circumvent it all is their own cup of tea.
Interestingly, however, is the measured attitude of Mahama. So far, he has chosen not to comment publicly on the performance of the Akufo-Addo government. He seems to have left everything open to Ghanaians to judge for themselves unlike his predecessors, especially Jerry John Rawlings who took it upon himself to tear into his successors at will, condemning them, threatening them, and abusing them for not pursuing the path that he had charted (as if he considered himself as the paragon of perfection that must be obeyed and not challenged or departed from. And he has his wife in tow to do that dirty politics, all to no avail.).
For Mahama, the path is different. He has so far chosen to lie low and hasn’t gone to town to take on Akufo-Addo, which I respect and commend to the high heavens. As such, I want to devote this opinion piece to that enlightened path.
Even though I don’t know why he has chosen to be self-effacing and to not confront the Akufo-Addo team on its shortcomings that Ghanaians have noticed just 7 months into its rule, I can stick my neck out to say that he is doing so for strategic reasons and purposes. Considering how he was calumniated by the Akufo-Addo gang and painted as the killer of Ghana’s hopes, what better thing could he choose to do than to retreat to the back-burner to watch the performance of the Akufo-Addo sub-standard government and leave judgement on it to Ghanaians.
In this vein, he is behaving the way the United States’ Barack Obama and his wife have done thus far by not commenting openly on happenings under Donald Trump. The huge negative propaganda done by the scatter-brained Trump and his Republican armada against them contributed hugely to the defeat of Hillary Clinton (even if her own personal issues and performance in public office added more vim to the negative propaganda to doom her). So far, Obama and his wife have retreated to the background and aren’t moved in any way to condemn happenings under Trump, which is commendable.
The nub here is that the performance of Trump should give the citizens what they need to know what failure or success in political office is. So is it for Ghana too, especially if seen within the context of Mahama’s taciturn nature. Indeed, he has recoiled and won’t comment on happenings under Akufo-Addo. It is strategic. It shifts the burden to Ghanaians to judge things for themselves.
Therein lies the wisdom that I applaud. I wish that it will continue to be so. Then, when Ghanaians pit together things under Mahama and Akufo-Addo, they should know what is what. They should, then, determine for themselves whether they voted wisely or not at Election 2016. Even then, the future beckons.
Let’s remember that Mahama is engaged in international assignments (the latest of which is his leading the Commonwealth team of election observers to Kenya—something that Kufuor had done before in many countries. But he knows where to cut the chase.). Whatever role he has to play in his post-Presidency life should serve him useful purposes, which explains why he shouldn’t spread himself so thin as to become a problem. Once he knows what he is worth, he should cut his coat according to his size and move on. Those who think otherwise can burn themselves.
With this idea in mind, I hope to come out next with my personal opinion on whether John Dramani Mahama should lead the NDC at Election 2020. To set tongues rolling, I don’t think that he should. The challenge for the NDC, then, will be choosing someone who can easily sail through to return the party to power. The NPP’s cache may appear to be formidable but can be easily thrown apart if the NDC does well to re-position itself. From what has happened so far under Akufo-Addo, there is little to lose sleep over; but the NDC must put its house in order first.
Much of what caused the party’s defeat at Election 2016 was known long before the Kwesi Botchwey Committee was conceived of and put in place to massage feelings. The hard truth still hurts. But the NDC machine must not grind to a painful halt on that score. it must re-energize itself and move on, knowing very well that it is a party made up of people from diverse (and possibly conflicting) political backgrounds who got together at the June 4 initiation to move Ghana forward. No more, no less. Anything else is damnable. That is the motivation.
And I will revise my note to say that not until Ghanaians indicate strongly that they “miss” him, John Mahama shouldn’t tempt the Fates. Missing him means a lot that must be patiently awaited. When the pendulum swings, we will all see it and know what is what. Until then, no need to push the button.
Of course, “missing” him will take many forms, especially in terms of the fundamental political delicacy that fetched him goodwill in terms of development projects. If the NPP government fails to meet standards thereby, there will be questions and an inevitable search for Mahama to give the people what they want.
Whether such a situation will arise cannot be determined in this short period. That is why it is imperative for Mahama to lie low and assess the situation before hopping about in search of a comeback. Any spur-of-the-moment move may turn out to be counter-productive. A listening former president placed in this double-bind situation should think far before declaring his next move. Anything short of that will amount to political suicide. Who in the NDC wants to go that way?
I shall return.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
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