What many supporters of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) saw as a fine opportunity for their representatives in Ghana’s legislative House to ‘punish’ President Mahama for the double victory over their 2012 presidential candidate turned into a jaw-dropping, murmuring and groaning occasion for minority MPs when the President masterfully addressed the House on the State of the Nation on Tuesday.
The NPP MPs, who were said to have heavily ‘armed’ themselves with a litany of obstructive slogans which has the most chanted catchphrase in town, “tweeaa” featuring prominently, to boo the President during his delivery, have had to disappoint themselves and their supporters by helplessly and sheepishly watching their former colleague turned President in awe, as he raps them impressively with his magnificent communication and oratory skills.
Whiles NPP supporters were expecting their MPs to heckle the President and disgrace him as a sign of payback for keeping them in opposition, the Minority MPs as if hypnotized, comported themselves in their seats throughout the delivery and were competing among themselves to shower reverence on the President after the almost two and half hour inspiring delivery.
Demonstrating his prowess as an astute communicator and former member of the august House known for his insightful and intellectual contributions on the floor of Parliament, President Mahama did not just disarm the well-prepared minority MPs with his wit to the chagrin of their supporters, but also proved his mettle as a leader on top of the happenings within his government, backing his presentation with facts and figures.
Even before the NPP MPs could start their elaborate heckling which they gave a hint of when some of them started shouting ‘tweeaa’ immediately the Speaker called President to begin his address, President Mahama was smart to respond to them by saying “I’m not your co-equal…Mr Speaker, who said tweeaa?”
President John Mahama’s intermittent jovial remarks throughout the presentation coupled with the expert delivery which encompassed all sectors of socio-economic and political life and frank admission that the nation was faced with temporal difficulties, like cold water; melted the Minority who had no option than to listen to the President with rapt attention and join their colleagues on the majority to display a good laugh anytime their former colleague pass his humorous comments.
With disappointment written all over their foreheads and overly mesmerized by the President’s mastery, the Minority Leader, Mr Oseil Kyei Mensah Bonsu and his colleagues could not immediately punch holes in the speech as they did to the late President Mills but only said “it was a rehash of what was said the previous years.”
Many say the Minority MPs were less expectant of the President exuding such confidence, authority and control over his former colleagues to the extent that he intermittently told them to “keep quiet and listen” and also made some teasing comments like “we don’t want all die-be-die” and “Kufuor gallon” to push the NPP MPs into an uncomfortable zone. What is said to have confused the minority MPs more was when the President announced his government’s intension to start “free education” in the 2015/2016 academic year and also went ahead to provide how much it will cost.
Unlike during the late President Mills era when NPP MPs fly placards with horrible inscriptions or hoot at him after delivering the State of the Nation Address, President Mahama’s dazzling performance made them to hide their placards, if they had any.
The President speech touched on the economy, housing, water and electricity supply, education, health and agriculture among others. Whiles he described the difficulties in all the sectors, he proffered solutions to how his government would arrest them.
…BUT THE BLUNDERS MUST END
Even though President Mahama was at his element on Tuesday when he addressed Parliament on the State of the Nation which has become a subject matter for discussion in town, many say there shouldn’t have been any excuse for the lapses in his government. Giving the solid foundation that was laid by his former boss and mentor, the late President Mills, and library of renowned experts in the NDC, it was least expected of the Mahama government to be making avoidable and unpardonable mistakes. Tuesday’s speech was superb and really brought out the president’s oratory mettle which doused the otherwise hostile welcome opposition MPs had planned for him and it is believed what he demonstrated would mark a new way of doing things.
But just as President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria begins reaping the benefits of arrogance of power, greed, corruption and mismanagement in his government by counting his days in power, President John Mahama of Ghana must immediately give favourable answer to the clarion call from many quarters in his government and the general Ghanaian society to mend ways and reduce hardship, the blunders and sloppiness in the management of the affairs of the country or follow the fate of the leader of his West-African neighbour.
Just as The Al-Hajj has said in the past, President Mahama is the luckiest President in the political annals of this country since independence, having rose from the rank of a mere parliamentarian, to a deputy minister, then a minister, Vice-President and now the commander-in-chief of the Ghana armed forces.
Like his friend President Goodluck, President Mahama’s one-day meteoric rise from a vice-president to a president is even all the more enthralling having gone to work in the morning as the vice-president of Ghana and then returning home to his family in the evening the same day as the President of Ghana, after the macabre episode of the death of our beloved President, the late John Evans Atta Mills.
President Mahama should have thank God for this blessing by proving to be one of the best if not the best leader this country has ever had since the era of the nation’s founder, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Alas, what we see are blunders upon blunders upon blunders, indeed, The Al-Hajj may even be tempted to say that what we are seeing in the Mahama-led government these days is sheer incompetence, arrogance of power and certain impression of inferiority complex on the part of the President himself.
First, it started in February last year when the President was assembling his cabinet and team of ministers and deputy ministers.
The Shoddiness exhibited in this exercise was seen when the President decided to parade virtually new faces, and to some extent new comers or even ‘strangers’ in the National Democratic Congress (NDC), as ministers and inner circle members of his administration.
The Al-Hajj cannot up to now see any known and experienced ‘NDC person’ among the people managing the President at the Flag Staff House.
Any wonder, one year and two months-on after its inauguration into office, the Mahama administration has not finishing forming a government. Ambassadors are yet to be named and posted, some districts are without substantive DCEs, Chief executives and board members of some state enterprises are yet to be in place.
This comes on the back of the P/NDC being the government with the most experienced hands having steered the affairs of the nation longer than any other government in the post-independent Ghana.
Having governed unconstitutionally under the banner of the Provisional National Defence Council for almost eleven years, then to NDC 1&2 for almost eight years and then to the NDC 3&4 for five years. So, mathematically the P/NDC has ruled Ghana for more than 24 years cumulatively.
The party, having tasted power for that long-time can now boasts of the finest and the experienced hands that understand the nuances of governance than any other group of leaders.
The likes of Kwamena Ahwois, Dr Tony Aidoos, Totobi Kwakyes, Dr Kwabena Adjeis, Alban Bagbins, Kumbuors, Martin Amidus, E.T. Mensahs, Lee Ocrans and many others are finest any President can parade to efficiently execute his agenda of social and economic transformation.
It is therefore puzzling why the President could not tap into this experienced hands or even at least blend the new and the old but rather decided to stuff his team with virtually fresh untested hands.
The end result is the loss of institutional memory and the never-ending gaffes that we are witnessing today in the Mahama administration. The Al-Hajj has gathered that in most sectors of government mostly in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) it is like a totally new administration that was sworn into office January 2013. And a clear example of this was manifested Tuesday when the President addressed the country on the state of nation through parliament.
To the extent, there was no mention of a very important third arm of government, the Judiciary, whose contribution to the democratic process cannot be overlooked. Though admitting President Mahama’s address was comprehensive, the founder of the NDC, former President Rawlings in a brief remark after the almost two and half speech, had cause like most Ghanaians do to lament on the present unbearable cost of living in the country. And this is believed to have happened due to the lack of experience hands to advice and shepherd the President to stardom.
One technocrat in one of the ministries told The Al-Hajj that “beginning February 2013 things were reversed as if we were in February 2009 when the late Prof Mills’ administration was sworn in.”
“Things were done in completely different ways without regards to continuity and the potential political repercussions in 2016 when the people are going to pass judgment on the government,” the technocrat said on condition of anonymity.
When reached for his expert opinion on what is going on in this Mahama led-administration and what it portend for the future of the government, a Political Science lecturer from the University of Ghana told this paper that “the people are going to pass judgment on the government for its eight years of stewardship and not just four years when they go to the polls in 2016”.
Like his colleague the Nigerian President,Goodluck, the traits of President Mahama within his party, the NDC smacks of an absolute ruler having no regard to the members of the upper echelon of the party though, none will publicly say so unlike in Goodluck’s PDP’.
Despite daily reported cases of resignations from his ruling PDP with the potential collapse of the party and government, President Goodluck is still intoxicated with power and the arrogance of it in the most bizarre manner. Just last week, President Jonathan’s frustration was put to top gear when he directed the immediate suspension of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who has only four months for his contract to run out, for alleged financial recklessness.
Though a section of the Act establishing the CBN says the governor cannot be removed without two-thirds of the senate voting in favor of it, the frustrated Nigerian President, like a drunken elephant in a chinaware shop is hell bent on enforcing his directive with or without the support of the senate. And in the same manner as the Nigerian President has been responding to critics within his own party, President Mahama, recently told senior members of his National Democratic Congress… “For those who disagree with me and are anxious to see my back, not to worry, 2016 is not too far away. I will urge to be patient and this difficult job; the least one expects is loyalty and comradeship”.
This was in response to criticism from former majority leader of his party, Alban Bagbin questioning his commitment to fighting corruption and his visibility. “Recently a few of my comrades have questioned my commitment to fight corruption. I dare say they don’t know me”. President Mahama stated.
The President, only few weeks ago also rebuffed in a brazen manner, all the wise counsel from the most experienced members of his party. The latest one according to him is the clamour to sack his embattled finance minister, Mr. Seth Terkper.
His party’s national executives have on numerous occasions complained about lack of proper communications between the presidency and the party hierarchy, a situation that is gradually transforming into disenchantment and anger against the President.
Though the party’s hard working general secretary, Asiedu Nketia in his usual diplomatic antics in response to public enquiry to the issue not too long ago sought to down play it by placing the blame at the door step of state protocol and national security, but another national executive member who wants to remain anonymous countered; “was the late President Mills managed by operatives from Mars”? Stay tune