Some Inconsistencies In Mr. John Dramani Mahama’s 2020 Campaign Strategies

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Reported by Samuel Amon

All too soon, we are in another season of elections and promises. Thanks to God for his mercy and protection for us over the years and for ushering us into the season once again. As the promises are being thrown at us by the politicians, we need to interrogate the issues critically to inform the decisions and choices that we have to make in the upcoming polls. Various commentators have been heard either on radio or on television on some of the major issues, while others have also expressed their views by writing. This article is one of such expressions on the 2020 electioneering campaign. However, this article is not about the usual NDC versus NPP banter, and would not delve into the merits and demerits, or the viability and non-viability of the promises; it is just an expression of the observations made with the campaign strategies by Mr. John Dramani Mahama (JDM) and, by extension, his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Even though there are many issues to interrogate, and many others have discussed various aspect of both the NPP and NDC manifestos, this article will examine three of JDM’s campaign strategies, focusing on the sincerity thereof. This is so to remind the politicians that the Ghanaian electorate does not have short memory, contrary to what may appear to be the case and as proclaimed by some politicians.

Political parties and individuals that vie for positions have philosophies or, principles. The word philosophy is therefore defined in order to situate the discussion within the framework of the definition. Among other meanings of the word, the New Penguin English Dictionary (2000) defines it as the sum of beliefs and attitudes of an individual. Politicians use various strategies to attract votes for themselves and for the parties that they represent. Notable amongst these strategies include making promises; organising rallies; engaging in debates, not only to express their philosophies or ideas, but also to show their attitudes and attributes - how eloquent and smart they can be. Campaign promises are supposed to be based on the two major issues: philosophy and principle. Every politician, especially one that seeks to be elected into any political position makes promises based on their party’s or the individual’s own philosophies. The Ghanaian electorates have heard several of such promises over the years. JDM, having led this country before, had made some promises, and seeking to come back as president of this country one more time, is caught in this quagmire. It is therefore important to scrutinise what he has said before and what he is saying now, going into the 2020 elections.

The first issue is JDM’s call for a debate with President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo on the issue of who, between the two of them, performed better in providing infrastructure. It can be recalled that Mr. JDM as running mate to the late Professor John Evans Atta-Mills was recorded as saying that comparing records, especially in the areas of infrastructure is an “exercise in mediocrity”. This can be seen as JDM’s principle or philosophy. Therefore, if going forward, the same person comes to call for a debate on infrastructure, this call can be seen as inconsistent with his philosophy. Probably, his party was not in good standing over the issue at the time that he made the statement, but thinks that this time around, his party is better placed to win the debate.

The second issue is Mr. JDM’s promise to maintain the trainees (teacher and nurse) allowances. Mr. Mahama has called for the cancellation of these allowances and actually went ahead to cancel them in his time as president of this country. The explanation offered by himself, his Ministers of Education and spokespersons of his government was that there was the need to replace the allowances with students’ loans so as to pave the way for more students to be admitted into the colleges, as the allowance regime placed a limit on the number of students to gain admission in a year. This was what Mr. JDM, his party and his government stood for. In other words, this is expected to be the principle of the man and his party to the point that he had vowed to put his position as president of the republic on the line. He was quote as saying that he was not determined to restore the allowances, even if it would cause him to lose the 2016 elections. This was a very strong position that he and his government took at the time. It is therefore surprising for the same leader to make such U-turn and promise, this time around, to maintain the allowances if he becomes president again. It is important for journalists to ask about what has changed or caused this turnabout.

The third and last issue is the promise to legalise the use of motorcycles, popularly referred to as ‘okada’, for taxi in Ghana. As mentioned earlier, this article will not delve into the pros and cons of implementing such a policy. The crux of the matter is that, it was in 2012 when Mr. Mahama’s government was in power and superintended over a Legislative Instrument (LI 2180) that banned the use of ‘okada’ in this country. It therefore raises the eyebrows for same individual who led the same party to enact such a law, makes such a volte-face and promises to legalise the same operation which he banned a few years ago.

There is a saying, however, that change is the only constant factor in life. For this reason, philosophies and principles are all bound to change, probably due to new knowledge that becomes available to the individual or group. With his vast experience in the politics of this country, especially as former president, if for any reason, Mr. Mahama and his party decide to backtrack on some of their earlier convictions, it is important for them to be truthful to the Ghanaian public and tell the electorate why they have decided to make these promises against their earlier stances. This call is in tandem with a similar one attributed to the Asante King, Otumfuor Nana Osei Tutu II for Mr. JDM to tell Ghanaians about his failures in his past administration and how he plans to correct those mistakes. This would engender candour and some level of trust for himself and his party.

The Ghanaian electorate is described in recent times as becoming enlightened and for that matter, no politician would succeed at attempting to be too smart and have their way. It cannot be said that Mr. Mahama and the NDC have forgotten their earlier positions on this issues. Similarly, Mr. Mahama and his party cannot assume that Ghanaians have short memories and have forgotten about these issues so soon. In fact, it is not for nothing that the NDC lost the 2016 elections, and seeking a comeback, they need to be sincere to the people from whom they are seeking the mandate to come back. To build the nation, the subjects need to trust their leaders.

Nene Charkitey Yobitey,



Editor: Nii Amon
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