JOHN DRAMANI Mahama, running mate to Prof. Evans Atta Mills, National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, has expressed surprise at the rapturous welcome he was accorded by the people of Kumasi during his recent visit to the Garden City.
“I'm surprised! I'm shocked because the general perception is that Kumasi is the heart and stronghold of the NPP. But the warm welcome by the people of Kumasi, which I actually didn't expect, shows certain maturity developing in our body politics.
This shows that it is not about certain parochial interest like ethnicity or certain partisan consideration, but if a party has a programme which has to do with leadership and the general wellbeing of Ghanaians, the people will give it their vote,” he remarked happily.
Speaking to DAILY GUIDE in an exclusive interview at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi, the NDC running mate described his encounter with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and his chiefs at the Manhyia palace as an inspiring one.
The precincts of the Asantehene's palace were besieged by party faithful and curious residents who came to catch a glimpse of the NDC's new kid on the bloc.
He recounted the scene he saw on his way to Manhyia where the streets of Kumasi, right from Ejisu through to the principal streets leading to the Palace, had been occupied by residents who wanted to see who John Mahama was.
Mr. Mahama described the situation as the desire of Ghanaians to go forward, an indication that they want a leadership that understands the needs of the people.
The Bole/Bamboi Member of Parliament (MP) stressed that leaders ought to demonstrate to the people that they are prepared to lead them.
“I've always said that the problem with Ghana is not Ghanaians. The problem of Ghana is the leadership. If the situation is difficult and you explain to Ghanaians the actual problem and they see that you yourself are making sacrifices, they will be prepared to sacrifice.
“So for myself and Prof. Mills, one of our promises is that we will lead by example. If the situation is difficult, we would all bear that difficult situation,” he contended.
Mr. Mahama promised to fight corruption in the country, a situation he said would not be used to undermine a particular political party.
Looking into the future, the NDC running mate described the youth as the “future of Ghana”, and therefore promised to focus on programmes which would ensure quality education and create more jobs for the youth.
When asked if the NDC would scrap the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), Mr. Mahama described the NYEP as an artificial programme which was not sustainable, but said it would not be scrapped.
He alleged that currently, the NYEP was being financed from the GETFund and therefore not sustainable.
On ways to make the NYEP viable, Mr. Mahama stated that a group of communication experts was working around the clock on how to use some of the revenue to be generated from the Talk Tax to support the programme.
He disclosed that the group would review the revenue from the Talk Tax, adjust the percentage from local calls to international incoming calls so that the tax burden would not be pushed on Ghanaians.
Talking about his calm composure and non-aggressive way of approaching things and if it could not be a hindrance to his campaign, the Bole/Bamboi MP stated that his style was a unique one, saying he believed that politics or campaigns should not be carried out aggressively.
“We're not at war. We are not going to war. You need aggression when you are at war. People need to change their attitude and use persuasive communication, which is the style I have. Now every human being has his makeup and that is the way the Lord created me.
“What Ghanaians need today are not rumble-ramble leaders or public figures but thinking leaders who would look at the problems facing the country and outline viable solutions to them.
“So I'm going to be myself, soft-spoken. If I shout and it does not go well, someone can do the shouting for me. It is not about the slogan, it is about the message.”
He explained why he was able to present the paper on energy at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology even though he was not the one who prepared it.
According to him, his experience in government as a communicator had equipped him with the skills to make technical issues easy for the ordinary person.
Mr. Mahama noted that the NDC's insistence on social democracy was all about the welfare of vulnerable people, so that the growth in the economy would be felt by all.
“It could not be equitable but at least every Ghanaian should have the basics of life.
“Myself and Prof. Mills will also bring some honesty into politics. If the situation is not good, we need to explain to the people how difficult the situation is.
“By his nature, people call him Asomdwohene and by my nature, I am not a violent person. We will conduct a clean and non-violent campaign.
He however stressed that it did not mean they would not protect the ballot boxes during the election to prevent rigging.
By Wisdom Peter Awuku