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16.09.2013 Feature Article

Is Election 2016 President Mahama’s priority?

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Some people in the NDC are doing overtime to cause needles hiccups. They have begun muddying the waters by doing what one would expect to be left to the political opponents of the NDC to worry themselves over because agitations toward choosing a flagbearer fits them more than it does the NDC.

Here is what I am leading to:
'Plans are afoot at the National level to allow President John Dramani Mahama run unopposed in 2016 on the ticket of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). The NDC's National Executive Council (NEC) is meeting and Peacefmonline is reliably informed that one of the issues tabled before the executives is a proposal that nobody contests a sitting President for the flagbearership position.

Mr. Kojo Twum Boafo, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board dropped the hint on Peace FM's premium morning show 'Kokrokoo'. If consensus is reached on the issue, it will mean President Mahama will run unchallenged in 2016.' (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=285720).

Misplaced priority!! A dangerous move to make at this time. Thinking caps lost!!

Say it loud and clear: The immediate challenge facing President Mahama and his government, not to mention the NDC, is how to administer affairs so that living standards can improve for the millions of Ghanaians who are finding it difficult to make ends meet because of sky-rocketing prices of goods and services and the shaky economy. How does President Mahama instill hope in the people with good governance?

Ghanaians are looking forward to seeing drastic changes in governance style so the country can be moved forward, and are bothered about whether President Mahama will contest Election 2016 on the ticket of the NDC unchallenged or not. That is a matter for the future.

Their question is: What is President Mahama doing with the mandate that he won at Election 2012?

For now, they want to know what President Mahama will do to retain their goodwill in the exercise of the four-year mandate that they gave him at the polls, which the Supreme Court confirmed on August 29 to reinforce his legitimacy as the captain of the ship of state.

What he does to steer the ship ashore is their concern, not whether he will be challenged for the slot at Election 2016. That is in the womb of time. This talk of retaining President Mahama for Election 2016 is moot but is being raised by people with narrow personal interests in how much credence they give to it to catch the President's eyes for who-knows-what?

The Greater-Accra Regional Chairman of the NDC (Ade Coker) set the ball rolling on this score but immediately lost traction when he was taken to task. Those who promptly reacted to his pronouncement felt it was inopportune and rashly made. I agree with them.

But now that the issue is being blown out of all reasonable proportions and presented as if that is the President's main priority, it irks me to the marrow because it is not only misplaced but it is also irrelevant to the agenda in front of the President for immediate attention.

What will make it desirable for anybody to stand up to be counted as a flagbearer will depend on how President Mahama performs. If he acquits himself well and provides good quality leadership to boost good governance and national development, nothing will prevent him from getting the nod to lead the NDC and be endorsed by the electorate.

The buzz phrase is 'good leadership'! We know what 'good leadership' entails and should be the first to keep President Mahama on his mettle so he does what is expected. Anything short of that will not redound to his political fortunes. That is when he will be challenged by others who think they can do better if given the mandate. So, why should anybody begin ringing the alarm bells now instead of drawing attention to how the President will implement his agenda for the country?

I am more interested in goings-on, especially with the sporadic deterioration of the economy and rising cost of living. How is President Mahama handling affairs to ensure that all the sectors of the national economy are resuscitated and productivity boosted? What are his appointees doing to ensure that habits of mind and attitudes that have perennially doomed the country's economy are done away with?

Day-in-day-out, reports indicate that nothing has changed to give Ghanaians hope for a brighter future. Is that what will encourage them to keep faith with President Mahama or will he move fast to change the trend and retain public goodwill to carry out his agenda for national development?

Over the past few years, there has been too much laxity in government business, not to mention the erratic nature of policy formulation and enforcement. There seems to be too many inconsistencies that demoralize the people. Of particular concern is the wobbling economy.

We've read news reports about the summit held on the national economy recently held by government functionaries, technocrats and others with the requisite expertise to breathe life into the economy. As usual, will their words speak louder than actions (that they won't take to solve problems)? With what consequences for the President's future political direction?

Right in front of our eyes, many unpleasant things are happening to dampen spirits and instill fear in the people that the future is bleak. Political intolerance, ethnic strifes, widespread indiscipline, economic sabotage, and wanton theft of public funds are on the ascendancy. How will the government tackle these problems to prove its mettle?

How will the government fulfill its electioneering campaign promises to Ghanaians so that they can trust it and be willing to cooperate with it when called upon to contribute their quota? Not until the people are convinced that President Mahama has risen above the inadequacies that characterized previous administrations, no matter what anybody does to position him as the unchallenged flagbearer of the NDC at Election 2016, the going will be tough for him. That is what I expect these NDC people to bother themselves with instead of fouling our air with these self-serving pronouncements that won't put food on anybody's table.

There is a certainty to it all. Until the major electioneering campaign season opens for Election 2016, we can confidently say that President Mahama's status is not endangered. He is well settled in the groove of governance and should now look beyond who in the NDC will threaten his grips on power. What he has to do now is to use that power to make the much-expected difference so he will continue to endear himself to the citizens. As soon as he does so, he won't need to spend time and resources campaigning all over the country to seek the people's goodwill.

We recall that he spent barely 40 days as against the years spent by his main political opponent (the NPP's Akufo-Addo) but won the elections, apparently because he has what it takes to reach out to the electorate. Why won't he use that trump-card to remain poles ahead of the pack?

He isn't any problem for any well-meaning NDC member or citizen who values his worth. He was voted into office barely 9 months ago and survived his political opponents' intrigues to be confirmed as the legitimate choice of the electorate. No doubt about that electoral legitimacy because he won a clean victory at the December 7 and 8, 2012 polls. What he does with that victory is the rub now, not who challenges him for the NDC's flagbearership.

Now that his political opponents have been disarmed by the Supreme Court and risk falling into disarray, the least any NDC member can do is to stoke the fire on who will lead the party to the 2016 elections. It is not the party or the government's priority; it is consequently misplaced and demonstrative of sycophancy on the part of Ade Coker.

Clearly, it will be the height of mischief, chicanery, and treachery for anybody in the party in power to bulldoze his/her way through to attempt dislodging the sitting President for the party's flagbearership. If the President is doing well, who will be foolhardy as to make manouevres of the sort to undermine him?

Of course, it is not impossible, as was the case in Nigeria with Atiku Abubakar and the late Yar' Adua or what the incumbent Jonathan Goodluck has acted swiftly to stem. Again Atiku's involvement in the machinations is clear. But in all instances, he has turned out to be the loser.

In Ghana, we haven't yet had such a spectacle. What happened between the late Kow Nkensen Arkaah and Rawlings in 1998 doesn't come any close to it because Arkaah was in bed with Rawlings' political opponents, not seeking to dislodge Rawlings. But he also suffered the nasty consequences.

In the military governments that we've had, attempts by others to challenge the authority of the leader often resulted in either palace coups (in the case of the late General Acheampong) or counter-coups.

So, we insist that in our current democracy, it will be politically unwise for anybody to attempt overshadowing the sitting President, more so when the incumbent hasn't exhausted the constitutionally guaranteed two-term tenure. It doesn't mean that once elected, the President must serve a mandatory two-year term; but circumstances haven't clearly necessitated anything weird yet. So, why the rush to anoint President Mahama, barely 9 months into his four-year term?

Now, here comes my beef. We don't need anybody to remind us ofand to bore us withany tell-tale references to President Mahama's personal streaks of character (as being affable, self-effacing, youthful, and dynamic, or what-have-you?). We have already drawn that conclusion about him, which is why we weren't (and still aren't) surprised that the electorate would go for him and not those flaunting their professional accomplishments and longstanding (or is it grandstanding) political activities.

The electorate chose him to prove to his opponents that he has what they trust will help him move the country forward.

Moving the country forward is not an easy task; it is not an individual's affair either. That is why any public declaration of the sort being made about his chances as flagbearer for Election 2016 is not only premature but also distracting.

What President Mahama needs most at this time is unalloyed support from his own party and the citizenry who value his leadership style so he can accomplish he was voted into office to do.

For that matter, his immediate constituency, which is the NDC, has to be his bastion of support. It calls for unity and commitment to the cause of the party so its agenda of 'Social Democracy' (whatever it entails) can be implemented and the country's problems tackled to improve living standards.

Can Ade Coker and anybody thinking like him openly come out to say that they are doing what will ensure unity in the ranks of the party? What is it that they've been able to do to prove that the party has reached out to the populace and expanded its membership? Building the party into the formidable force that it must be is not an easy task, and those in leadership positions should know better how to relate to the members so no bad-blood relationship crops up to destroy the support base.

Over the years, the NDC has been rocked by in-fighting apparently because of problems that can be traced to the doorstep of the leaders. The anger seething in the foot-soldiers didn't just spring up overnight. It is the result of their being neglected as well as the arrogance, and selfishness/greed on the part of the party's leaders. How to solve the internal crisis and ensure unity for the party to provide a solid base for the Presidency is an imperative.

Unfortunately, those who matter in the party act and behave as if all is well in the party. Then, they turn round to make pronouncements hinging on sycophancy in the hope to be noticed and rewarded with contract awards. This kind of morbid sycophancy is a major national worry; and we must see it behind all the pronouncements that raise the President sky high even when there is no need for it. Praise will be given when it is due but not when it is coloured with parochial interests that belie political intrigues.

What President Mahama doesn't need now is this kind of sycophancy (bootlicking), and ostrich behaviour. He needs better food-for-thought than this premature manouevring to clothe him in the attire of a flagbearer for Election 2016. Let him do the job now and be ready to cross the bridge when he gets to it.

As is often said, a good thing sells itself. The President is good and must be seen as selling himself through good performance. Only then will he merit going it again at Election 2016 without having to look over his shoulders. Mr. President, on your mark! Get set! Goooooooooooooooooooooooo!!

I shall return...

E-mail: [email protected]
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Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D.
Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D., © 2013

The author has 1325 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: MichaelJKBokor

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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