President John Dramani Mahama’s newfound love for donning military fatigues is weird and misleading. He would quickly spot the Number One Dress Uniform or the Olive Green fatigue whenever the military is hosting him during a graduation parade at the Ghana Military Academy, as guest of durbars or inspecting guards of honour at any military formation.
Someone quipped cynically, “Our president loves a parade and the military uniform,” reminding us about a similar passion shared by the late Egyptian strongman Anwar Sadat, who loved taking salutes – one of such functions becoming his Waterloo sadly.
The timing for the president’s passion is instructive: coming as it were, in the run-up to elections in which the stakes are extremely high and adrenaline levels tipping the utmost reading, it has evoked varied comments, most of them inclement and suspicious.
Observers of the president’s new inclination have posted motley postulations as to why the Number One Citizen could be dropping the civvies when he engages with soldiers.
As Commander-In-Chief (C-in-C) with the constitutional authority to declare war or the contrary, donning the military fatigue is not sine qua non.
We have reached a destination in our political journey where preference for military apparel by a president – an option hitherto unknown locally – triggers consternation in an already overheated political engine. We do not want to believe it’s intended to instill apprehension in the people as it occurred during the dictatorships of Josef Stalin and others so they can be rendered timid.
As someone who studied history, President John Mahama might be picking some lessons from Josef Stalin, Nikita Kruschnev or Leonid Brezhnev, who wore the military uniform to stamp their authorities as dictators.
If Winston Churchill did same his circumstances were different.
It was WWII setting and he wore at varying times an Admiral’s, Air Marshal’s or General’s uniform as a civilian Prime Minister, having been a Major during WWI in the British Army.
In a country with a nightmarish history of military dictatorships laced with inexplicable disappearances and murders by junta actors, such posturing is unwelcome and unnecessary. Democracy cannot make the strides we want it to do when the military uniform mentality lingers in the psyche of a man who should have known better about the drawbacks of treading such a path, more so in the twilight of his tenure.
Soon after his last uniform appearance, the president emplaned for the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York where democracy underpinned his presentation somewhat.
We observed his concern about what he said is the West’s demand for the practice of their kind of democracy, about which he demurred.
Democracy has basic attributes, the absence of any of which robs it of such nomenclature. A political environment, in which the rule of law, is largely theoretical, threatened by state players, cannot be said to be democratic.
The penchant to apply foul means to hold on to power, the reckless misuse of the public kitty and state powers to enhance these cannot be in consonance with the tenets of democracy, as it obtains in many an African country, including Ghana.
These are but a few of the attributes of democracy threatened in our part of the world for which there is no African alternative.