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15.12.2007 Feature Article


I received a mail from a Ghanaian living in the USA asking me why I should be so concerned about developments in Ghana. To him living in Europe should be sufficient and not to bother about politics in Ghana.

But one message I have for this man and others who may hold similar views is that they should read an interview granted by Mr. M.O. Ibrahim, the architect of the Ibrahim Prize Commttee, whose foundation seeks to reward good governance on the African Continent. He said among other things that “It is shameful that I should eat well while my neighbour is starving… how many millions does a man need to live on? How many Mercedes can you drive?”

The attitude of this emerging star of Africa, M O Ibrahim, said his humble beginning, starting from nothing motivates him to reward African Leaders who instil good governance in their countries. It is no surprise that Mr. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, is Chair of this foundation. I strongly believe this is what should pre-occupy the thinking of every politician: to spare the state resources.

It was not by coincidence that some of us are rooting for His Excellency Aliu Mahama. Our whole argument is based on the premise that Alhaji Aliu Mahama has demonstrated his commitment to fight poverty and again he perfectly represents the voice for the voiceless. There is no argument that poverty brings about ignorance with its attendant problems such as school drop -outs, diseases, high mortality rate, conflicts.etc.

After critically listening and observing Vice President Aliu Mahama's speeches and actions, there are ample indications that he is the hope for the hopeless in our society. An employee from the TUC once described Alhaji Aliu Mahama as the 'Poor man's friend'. It is even more gratifying that there was reported news that the rural folks love Alhaji Aliu Mahama. It is worthy of note that former US President Bill Clinton and current Brazilian President Lula da Silva are seen as leaders who cared about the underclass in society. This was based on the fact that they instituted measures that either bridged the gap or had the potential to bridge the gap between the poor and the wealthy.

Mr.O.B. Amoah, current Deputy Minister of Education, a star of the NPP foot soldiers, has demonstrated the highest commitment by being down to earth and touching the lives of ordinary people, before he was appointed, had worked in the Vice President's office as legal counsel, Mr.Yaw Asamoah Buaben, currently a spokesman for the Veep, was an Executive Director of Integrity International –an agency that fights corruption. These are all indications of the Vice President's willingness to help the downtrodden in society. Alhaji Aliu Mahama's philosophy of constructing the ladder for the poor to climb a little nearer to the rich has earned him the respect from some Traditional Leaders who have appreciated his burning desire to minimize poverty. One traditional leader even described the Vice President “as fighting against the bourgeoisies in the NPP race”. Time will tell if these distinguished traditional leaders will go public in support of Aliu Mahama, they are likely to face criticism of dabbling in politics, so they may subtly express their support.

Society triumphs when leadership shows empathy for the underprivalged. Policies are initiated to bury ignorance; diseases and the people are empowered to express their God-given potentials. Bill Clinton is loved by many Americans because of his humility, comportment and tremendous efforts in helping the poor to rise a little and catch up with the wealthy. My heart bleeds when I see that there are some Ghanaians who are not bothered about the suffering of other Ghanaians.

It is very regrettable that some are desperate to get rich at the expense of the poor in society. I'm constantly searching for answers as to why people want to get richer even after getting more. It is certainly logical to work hard and earn your wealth and all Ghanaians must be encouraged to use their hands and brain decently to get their money. To exploit the people and get rich is certainly inhuman. Our society will surely crumble if the poor are left behind. I do not need any scholar to give me tuition about ideologies-left wing, right wing, centre left, centre right, blah blah, for they are all fundamentals. A policy of acknowledging the importance of the poor in society is the key and not this outmoded exclusivity about ideologies.

I certainly do not need a Psychologist to tell me about the attitude of Alhaji Aliu Mahama; he hates poverty. Leadership that strives to wipe out poverty is what the majority should be yearning for. As a young party activist, I'm anxious to scrutinize leaders who have shown a greater commitment to confront our common enemy - poverty.

Modern trends are increasingly showing how elections are being won in the rural areas; it is therefore welcome news that Alhaji Aliu Mahama is greatly loved by the rural folks (sceptics should spend money and do their research in the rural areas-and come up with the untainted truth)
It is equally a timely reminder that Alhaji Aliu Mahama sent a strong message that “this is my time”. And rightly so, because so many things go in favour of the Vice President. I am not in any way trying to disparage any of the other Aspirants for they are all respected personalities, but Aliu's tremendous contribution to the success of the Kufour Administration can never be ignored. Today having been at the centre of decision-making, he has seen the government mistakes, has observed how to improve things drastically without dislocating the finest agenda of the NPP governement. It is certainly his time, because the likelihood of another person destroying completely the foundation laid by the Kufour Administration is the problem.

It is certainly Aliu Mahama's time because he is totally conversant with what Government has to do in order to accelerate the development of this country. The international link established by President Kufour to woo more investors are known to the Vice President; his diplomatic persona is going to be a huge benefit for other African countries that are plagued with conflicts. As the co-pilot, he has watched carefully how pilot Kufour took off, dealt with the initial turbulence and now is getting ready to land. Aliu Mahama knows about the journey inside out; he knows how to command the vehicle; he knows the flight patch; he has the right compass and all the navigation equipment. There is no need to look anywhere else for a successor-Aliu Mahama is the man.

A constituency Secretary put it perfectly when he said “when a Head teacher retires or is absent, it is the Assistant Head that takes over; When a Driver of a Car is indisposed, it is the Mate who takes over; and asked, “why not Aliu?” For me, Alhaji Aliu Mahama is not a mere mate but an excellent man who has presided over so many difficulties in the country which if it hasn't been for his matured attitude, things could have been different. Who heads the Ghana Armed Force Council, The Police Council, Prison Council, furthermore, who has weathered the storm when workers/students have threaten strike action, during the absence of the President? And, who has acted as President for more than three years at different times?

Another striking hallmark about the Vice President's is his burning desire to unite this country. For him Nations develop when the people are united in a common crusade to help in the construction of this country. He rightly put it when at a recent Christian Gathering at the Central Region he said “When there is peace and stability in the country, leaders can be groomed and nurtured” Ghana certainly need Engineers, Doctors, Teachers etc and it is only when a Nation is united that all potentials in the country can be unearthed.

One extraordinary gift God has given the Vice President is his love for every Ghanaian regardless of class, ethnicity, religion or position. Not surprisingly an indigenous party man Dr.Amoko Tuffour, described Aliu Mahama as 'God Sent'. Any leader who does not discriminate against the people will surely banish pettiness, class divide and vindictiveness. Based on his empathy for the poor in society, Aliu Mahama is most likely to challenge his Ministers to work hard to alleviate the suffering of the masses and also be closer to the people thereby giving power to the people.

It is the right time for the Vice President to be crowned the NPP flag bearer because history will be made. The perceived marginalisation of a group will no longer hold water and the party and country will be better off. The opportunity for the NPP to unite behind a sitting Vice President to maintain power may not come again. I sincerely agree with Dr.Boakye Akoto for lamenting the inability of the NPP to woo more perceived minority groups to the party.

When Mr. Mwai Kibaki previously a VICE PRESIDENT to Mr.Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, had the blessings from his party and took over as the President of Kenya (from Vice President to President) he said “I have seen how my President Moi has governed and I'm going to continue fast, a new style and a new vim for my crying people” Alhaji Aliu Mahama has watched carefully how President Kufour has managed the country, as Kibaki of Kenya, Ghana will surely flourish under Aliu Mahama government. Can the party and government afford to change leadership at this critical time, a developing country?

I sincerely believe that under Aliu's Presidency, public institutions are going to be more powerful and efficient and it is the State institutions that Ghanaians will be scared of and not the President. Ministers are going to be told unequivocally that you serve Ghanaians better or face the sack. Ministers will not be appointed to engage in business but rather create the opportunities for the Businessmen and women to explore.

The 2008 election is not going to be fought exclusively by Alhaji Aliu Mahama should he become the NPP flag bearer, but by all strategists, party scribes, losing Aspirants, foot soldiers. With Aliu Mahama at the helm, the NPP's opponents will have a lot of catching up to do.



This author has authored 34 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MARTINKWANING

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