John Mahama laces boots for campaign
President John Dramani Mahama
“I did not come here to campaign. I am not on a campaign trail. I came to account to you on the work we have done, what we are still doing and what we intend to do. Very soon, I will be back in my NDC political gear to campaign.”
Those were the words of President John Dramani Mahama as he addressed ecstatic crowds in various towns and villages in his native Northern Region on the last leg of his nationwide tour.
The ‘Accounting to the People’ tour now belongs to history but the political angle to the tour cannot be swept under the carpet as the general election inches closer.
Watching and listening to the President from a close range as he rounded off the tour, I saw determination and confidence boldly written on his face.
He appeared ready to lace his boots for what is expected to be a vigorous electioneering.
On the strength of what he describes as the unprecedented work his government has done, he has no doubt that the NDC will win the December 7 general election.
With statements such as, “God willing, I will win the election,” and “during my second term in office,” Mr Mahama sent strong signals to his opponents that he would surely be rewarded by the Ghanaian people in the elections.
President Mahama said the last three-and-a-half years had brought many positives to the nation and the people.
Admittedly, Ghana, under Mahama, has seen some significant progress, especially in infrastructural development.
I noticed improvements in the roads, water, electricity, education and health among other sectors as I covered the ‘Accounting to the People tour for the Daily Graphic.
In the Upper West Region — the region that ushered me into the world of work — I saw appreciable changes.
Some 26 years ago, I did my national service at the Lawra Senior High School, where I taught History.
The region was then in a terrible state of affairs.Wa, the regional capital, had only one stretch of tarred road of about a kilometre but today, virtually all the roads in the capital are tarred, with a number of them turned into dual carriageways.
The regional capital now has an airstrip, which will start receiving commercial flights before the end of this year.
I remember those days, it took me almost five hours to make the 85km distance from Wa to Lawra in a derelict ‘boneshaker’ (a passenger truck) but today that road is tarred and in very good condition.
Nonetheless, a lot more needs to be done to bring infrastructure development across the country to acceptable standard.
Poverty and unemployment are still major problems in many communities although the nation has all the potential to turn things round.
It is unacceptable and indeed a shame to a 59-year-old nation that the three regions of the north sit on arable lands, which, with the right approaches, can turn round the fortunes of the people, yet a chunk of the people still wallow in abject poverty.
Whether the infrastructural projects and other initiatives undertaken by the Mahama administration will play in his favour is left to be seen in the general election.
The cynics question how infrastructure alone, an area the President has been touting as his government’s achievements, can help the president to win the polls.
The fact remains that President Mahama’s ability to be retained in office will hinge on a number of factors.
Indeed, selling the good works itself cannot be overlooked.
In elections, you can laugh at the wrong side of your mouth if you are unable to package your message well to resonate with the electorate.
Although the President tried not to becloud the mission of the tour with political campaigning, the quest to win the presidential election cannot be divorced from the import of the tour.
His political maturity was in full glow. The political season is heating up and Mr Mahama’s performance in government has come under attack from his opponents, who insist he has presided over a deteriorating economy.
But while on the tour, he avoided returning verbal salvos.Nevertheless, on few occasions, he hid his head inside the veil to throw few decent jabs directed at his opponents.
President Mahama spoke the language of hope and optimism, and saw the battle of December 7 as a must-win for the NDC.
The President is going for arguably the greatest campaign ever in his fine political career and you cannot begrudge him if so much energy and resources are pumped into the campaign.
Yes, one can argue that he used just three months to campaign and won the 2012 election, which was ocasioned by the demise of Prof. J.E.A. Mills, the original NDC presidential candidate, and this time, he has the luxury of time to go into the campaign at full throttle.
But, the exigencies of the 2012 period are different from today.
Mr Mahama is not ready to go down in history as the first President of the country to lose a re-election bid.
But at his heels is the NPP presidential candidate. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who, after two failed attempts to occupy the highest office of the land, is not ready to tumble the third time.
At 72, Nana Akufo-Addo obviously would not get the opportunity again to achieve what some people call his boyhood dream of becoming the President of Ghana and in a way follow the footsteps of his illustrious father, Mr Justice Edward Akufo-Addo.
A distinguished lawyer and politician, Mr Justice Akufo-Addo, who was between 1966 and 1970, the Chief Justice of Ghana during the National Liberation Council (NLC) administration, became a ceremonial President in the Second Republican government of Prime Minister Dr K.A. Busia.
Although as ceremonial President, his father did not wield executive powers, Nana Akufo-Addo will play into history if he is able to win the December elections to become the Executive President of the land.
Out of the wreckage of his two earlier attempts, the NPP standard bearer has mounted a massive campaign to wrest power this time.
He has assembled a coalition of young and experienced persons in his party to champion his campaign but the ruling NDC party sees the NPP flag bearer as a segregator who has supervised a divided party that is not ready to assume the reins of government.
For the President who has equally put together a formidable campaign team, his impressive performance will win the election for him and the NDC.
How the scenarios will play into the election is left to all to see after December 7 when the votes are counted.