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OPEN LETTER To John Dramani Mahama, Ghana’s Youngest Ex-President
 
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07-Mar-2017  
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Hello Mr Dramani Mahama,


I have always wanted to pen down this letter right after you lost the December 7, 2016 elections but my numerous travels have always been a stumbling block. Luckily, I have had some hiatus as a result of the 60th independence celebration and exactly a day after the celebration marks your two-month service as a former president.


I must say you stunned in the anniversary shirt at the Independence Square on Monday. Your ‘ex-presidency’ unlike Jerry John Rawlings’ and John Agyekum Kufuor’s is quite unusual as you have another chance to be president. I believe you will come back, if not in 2020, in 2024 and by then I hope you will govern with lessons learnt from the period you were president.


Yes! I have admired you not only because you read the same course I did at the University of Ghana – History – and proceeded to the School of Communication, where I also took up an MA, but also because you have a flair for writing, which is good. One thing that struck me when you made your intentions clear in 2012, a few days after the death of your predecessor Professor J.E.A Mills, was that you were a “Ghana leader”. Indeed, you lived out the remainder of Prof Mills’ tenure as the first president to have been born after 1957 and by your election in 2012, you became the first elected post-Gold Coast born president. Indeed, your trump card of being a youth brought you many admirers including me. How I was wowed by your use of palmtops and iPads!


As a youthful leader in my own right, if any person throws in youthful exuberance as a trump card, my mind goes straight to the post-Solomon era in the Holy Bible. I am talking about Rehoboam, who became king after his father Solomon. After he succeeded his father, some men led by Jeroboam came to him to plead for a lessening of the burden imposed on them by the wisest king ever. After giving them three days within which period he was going to get back to them, Rehoboam took the counsel of young men instead of the old men: “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.


And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. If you read I Kings 12 in the Bible, you will find the end to the story. Rehoboam lost a majority of the kingdom to Jeroboam. I felt you lost the last elections because you took counsel from young folks. I was gobsmacked when you stated openly that no one can criticize you except ex-presidents. I felt ashamed as I thought there were some positions in this country that are far above that presidential seat. Indeed, politics has made being a president the only ambition for many.


I think, arguably, being an honourable priest or a chief with integrity or even an eminent judge is far beyond becoming a president and for you to zero your critics only to ex-presidents was curious for me. Little wonder a week later in the Volta Region you confessed some ‘elderly men’ have called you to tone down on such remarks. I am sure they were piqued by your remark, made at an Accra rally in November, 2015, if my memory serves me right.


I felt more sorry for the Council of State, members of which are to give you counsel. But the picture became palpably clear to me in the Montie 3 saga. After eminent judges of the Supreme Court have sentenced the three young men to jail terms, pressure was mounted on you by young men among whom were your young appointees.


They brought you a petition and you shocked the nation by accepting to honour their request without recourse to what the wise judges had done and probably the Council of State had advised. This same young appointees misled you into thinking you had won the 2016 elections. Even when results had your opponents in pole position, you were told your party was in a “comfortable lead”. I know your real self would have conceded defeat earlier than you did as was evidenced in the period within which you knew you had won the 2012 elections. A day after the elections, which ran on December 7-8, you jubilated, a gesture which meant you had your own internal mechanisms to track the results. Your concession, which came after all the other presidential candidates had done theirs, was not significant let alone encouraging. Anyway, thank you for relinquishing after all because an older person would have held on to power, a bane in Africa.


I saw you cruising at a Kenya national park, where I have been a couple of times. I hope you saw how they are making wildlife tourism count for them. I pray that you return to power so that the likes of the Kakum and Mole national park would see some touch-ups. I am sure your second coming will not see you consulting more often the young ones but the old, brainy folks. Even if you are tempted to call on the young, be selective. Some, indeed have great ideas to offer on the table. On this day that you mark your second month as an ex-president, I wish you a blissful day and dedicate Barry White’s 1974 classic Can’t get Enough of your Love for your listening pleasure.


By Manuel Richards
The writer is a Ghanaian journalist.

 
 
 
 
 

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