The John Mahama I know
Upon the return of the country to constitutional rule in 1992, the stage was set for one of the most interesting Parliamentary contests in Northern Region. This was in the Bole-Bamboi Constituency.
Proffessor Albert Adu Boahen, the Presidential candidate of the NPP led a boycott of the election paving way for the NDC candidate who was relatively unpopular to win the seat on a silver platter.
By 1996, a certain wind was blowing across Bole. It was a wind of change. At the dawn of 1996, the people of Bole came to one realisation. It was a realisation that their choice of a parliamentary candidate for the 1992 elections was a mistake. A mistake they did not want to carry into the future. This realisation was part of the increasing political awareness that was created in the minds of the people of Bole about their political rights and responsibilities. Many people felt the first Member of Parliament did not carry with him the voice capable of resonating in the walls of parliament and as well championing their cause for change.
It is in the midst of this a man called John Mahama who was working at the Japan Embassy announced his interest in contesting the NDC primaries in Bole-Bamboi. Many thought he only wanted to try his luck and perhaps position himself for future elections since the most popular candidate for the NDC was Alhaji Gilbert Iddi, the current Chief Executive Officer of SADA who was then a Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Paradoxically, most of the people of the area knew nothing about John Mahama. For most people, all they knew was that he is the son of the E. A. Mahama, first Member of Parliament for Bole and a one time ally of Kwame Nkrumah.
Of course I knew that John Mahama was the brother of two of my maternal uncles, Adams Mahama and Peter Mahama who were more popular within the family.
Before the NDC Primaries, John Mahama visited his family house which happens to be my mothers house too. I was introduced to him as his nephew but the son of Alhaji Mahama Salifu, the NPP Chaiman for Bole. That was my first encounter with him.
He was not concerned about the fact that I come from a staunch Danquah-Dombo-Busia family. He engaged me in a conversation and commended me for my knowledge of the issues of the day though I was relatively young. He encouraged me to take my studies serious. The way he articulated certain issues made me realised he was a colossus primed for the pantheon of our greats.
A few days to the primaries, John Mahama stormed Bole with a message of hope to the NDC. His demeanour, humility, affable nature, charisma and charming face were noted by the delegates. It was therefore not surprising that he defeated the popular Deputy Minister.
Sixteen years down the lane, many in Bole are glad to see their former Member of Parliament rise to become President of the Republic of Ghana. Indeed this is the proudest moment of anybody who hails from this town in the Western part of Northern Region.Today, as President John Mahama ponders over the daunting challenges that lie ahead of him as a President of the Republic of Ghana, the people of Bole, I believe, will be more than elated to observe that the sterling qualities they saw in John Mahama will be acknowledged by a vast majority of Ghanaians.
There is no denying the fact that President John Mahama is a national phenomenon. In my political discussions with colleagues and friends, I have come to the realisation that John Mahama is admired by many Ghanaians for his good communication skills. He is largely acclaimed as a fine and appealing gentleman cast in the mode of the US president,
Barack Obama, hence nicknamed, 'Ghana's Obama' during the 2008 campaign period.
Until recently, I was a serious political critic of President John Mahama. Shortly after he was appointed by then candidate John Evans Atta Mills in April, 2008 as his running mate, I granted interviews to Radio Stations, questioning his contributions and service rendered to the people of Bole-Bamboi constituency during his tenure as Member of Parliament for the area and Minister of Communication.
I said John Mahama's selection to partner Atta Mills was a surprise to many people in Bole because he failed to live up to their expectation and aspirations. I was indeed described as a thorn in the flesh of President Mahama. Notwithstanding this criticisms he will always greet me with smiles anytime we meet at mostly social gatherings in Accra or at Bole. He is indeed respectable and treat people kindly no matter who they are and how they have wronged him.
One quality of President John Mahama which cannot go unnoticed is his refusal to rationalise that which cannot be rationalised. There is a right and a wrong and there are no ambiguities between the two extremes. This is a quality most Ghanaian politicians do not possess. In Ghana, the tendency is, and has always been, that once you are a Gonja or an Asante, you must find reason and justify everything a Gonja or Asante man does even if you find it obnoxious.
President Mahama is understanding and makes his decisions from a base of mature reflection. As a Communicator he sees all sides of any issue, but hold fast in his beliefs. That is the kind of politics Ghana needs.
If the John Mahama I know is anything to go by, I dare say my party (NPP) must watch out. President John Mahama appeals to the North-South divide as well as the Muslim-Christian divide and could certainly garner much votes as his predecessor John Evans Atta Mills.
While I sit here penning my views on the President, I will like to remind him of the challenges that lie ahead of Ghana. The problems we face as a nation do not lie in our lack of resources. They do not lie in our lack of people with the right expertise. The problems lie in the lack of honest people to man what we have. The problems lie in the refusal of the powers-that-be to effect a change for fear of losing their grip on power. The problems in Ghana lie in the absence of leadership.
In effecting change, let us not be unmindful of parochialism; that canker that gives a tunnel vision. The upcoming elections will not be fought on lies. The upcoming elections will not be fought on malicious accusations. They will be fought on ideas; ideas that can stand the test of time. Ideas that are not parochial in outlook but well-prepared with the right recipes and marinated with the foresight of eventuality.
There is no perfect candidate for president in any campaign year, and 2012 is no different. None of the contenders running in 2012 Presidential election is without warts and shortcomings, but there is at least one, and probably two who do have what it takes, and hopefully, one of them will be chosen.
Congratulations President John Dramani Mahama!!!
By Mahama Haruna