Paa Kwesi Schandorf: A Sunday letter to John Mahama on his possible return as Ghana’s President

paa kwesi schandorf a sunday letter to john mahama on his possible return as ghanas president
WhatsApp Image 2021 11 11 at 06.50.21

Dear Sir, I bring you greetings as a young journalist, who is desirous of unparalleled development in our affairs as a country.

As you’re already aware, two weeks ago, we marked our 65th Independence Anniversary, at the Cape Coast Stadium and other designated locations across the country. It was a momentous occasion; and as always, it ignited a feeling of patriotism in the hearts of many Ghanaians, home and abroad.

Suffice to say, it is that same sense of patriotism that has compelled me to write you this letter; with the hope that, you will appreciate my exhortation, and embrace my humble pieces of advice.

Wait, did I say ‘advice’ ? Let me retract my words. Of a truth, you are a seasoned politician; a man with thorough understanding of our political landscape and its dynamics. You have seen what my eyes are yet to behold. You have heard details too strong for my ears; and you have walked on paths, that my feet may never be able to thread. Under the circumstances, how dare me say, I’m offering you an ‘advice’?

“NyƆŋmƆ akpa eshwie”! God perish that thought! I cannot advise you, Mr. Ex President. I don’t have the gravitas to attempt such an ambitious courtesy. And so for the want of a better word, please consider today’s letter as ‘a regular piece of suggestion’, crafted without any vile intent whatsoever.

Now, during this year’s Independence Day Anniversary Parade, I took some time to ponder on how we have fared as a democracy, and the lurking possibilities in the future. I want to believe that a lot of well-meaning Ghanaians also underwent such reflective exercises; including your good self.

In my pondering and stock taking, a thought came to mind. Like a typical Ghanaian prophet would say, ‘My spirit was taken away from this place’. And suddenly, I imagined a situation, where you had been sworn in as the President of Ghana on January 7, 2025.

Having watched President Akufo-Addo read this year’s Independence Day address, I went ahead to visualise you as the one addressing the nation on 6th March, 2025, when Ghana will be 68 years.

In both imaginations, I was neither happy nor sad. Your imagined victory didn’t excite me, neither did it dull my mood. If I felt anything at all, it was a feeling of indifference; with only one question on my mind. The question I asked was that, ‘” Will Mahama really make any difference if he’s re-elected in 2024?”

Mr. President, with the greatest of respect, don’t consider this a cynical question. Let us treat it as a frank question, which may be lingering on the minds of many well-meaning Ghanaians; including some of your party folks, who hold you dear at heart.

For the avoidance of doubt, you have had a very thrusting feel of Ghana’s political landscape. It may not be out of place to even assert that, perhaps you have experienced our country’s political terrain, more than any of your contemporaries.

For those who may not know, you began as an Assemblyman, before being elected as the Member of Parliament for the Bole/Bamboi Constituency, in 1996. You represented your people for three-terms, in addition to serving as Deputy Minister for Communication between 1997 and 1998 before becoming the substantive Minister for Communications from 1998 to 2001.

After these feats in government, you became the NDC’s running mate in 2008. On January 7, 2009, you were sworn in as Vice President of Ghana. Eventually, you rose to the high office of President of the Republic of Ghana, following the untimely demise of your boss, the late Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta-Mills, on Tuesday, 24th July, 2012.

This year, we shall mark ten years of Ghana’s first President who died while in office. I know this will trigger some sour memories, and do accept my commiserations ahead of time. But my question remains: ”What difference will you make, if you become our President on January 7, 2025?”

As of now, you have not made any definite pronouncements to the effect that you will vie for your party’s flagbearership contest. However, some of your past appointees, including the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, have already welcomed this possibility with glee.

Indeed, when I was assigned to follow you on your two day tour of the Greater Accra Region in November last year, I noticed the passion with which your party faithfuls greeted your arrival at each stop you made. Anytime you disembarked from your convoy, the reaction was not only boisterous, but saturated with deafening shouts of ‘JM’.

Even the dead can tell that the NDC’s grassroot, together with other high ranking members of your party, are in fervent support of your return to the high places of power. I am very sure that, this may have also crossed your mind on a few occasions; that is if you haven’t already decided. Indeed, a section of the ‘neutrals’ in our politics have also expressed confidence in your second coming, especially in the light of current developments.

But Mr. Ex President, if your return to power will not change the country’s fortunes and inject an air of hope and freshness into our political landscape, please abort the idea. I have heard in passing that, you take a lot of delight in good wine. If at the time of reading this, you’re seated by any, kindly suspend the intermittent sipping and take note of what I’m about to say next. The ensuing paragraphs, I believe are instructive for you to note.

Mr. President, first of all, a lot of Ghanaians have lost hope in the political class. We saw your years in office, and witnessed all the ‘evil’ and good which took place under your watch. Despite your laudable initiatives, Ghanaians felt that the Presidency needed fresh hands, thus you were voted out in 2016.

Six years after the installation of the Akufo-Addo regime, Ghanaians appear to be singing the same chorus of change, which they trumpeted ahead of the 2016 polls. The same voters, who embraced the candidature of Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia, seem to have lost confidence in them, and are yearning for something new.

But you are not necessarily the newness they are craving for, or you think otherwise?. I commute to work by Uber or Bolt everyday, and anytime I strike a conversation with the drivers, I am saddened by their disappointment in our country’s political establishments. Frankly speaking, they feel that even though there are some differences between you and Akufo-Addo, the two of you are nothing but twin-heartbreakers, who only exchange batons.

Honestly speaking, many Ghanaians feel that way as well. As a result, what we are all looking for, is a new political dispensation, devoid of the ills we saw under your watch and the lapses we are experiencing under the current Akufo-Addo regime. Our cry is for someone new, fresh without the shortcomings we know about you and President Akufo-Addo; a completely fresh era where corruption and all its attendant ills will no longer be in the headlines and front pages. Mr. Ex President, can you deliver this newness?

If you find favour with the Ghanaian people, and win the 2024 general elections, that is if you will you contest, you will be confronted with a lot of challenges. One of the litany of issues that will occupy your thoughts will be the tall list of party faithful, who will be seeking appointments, contracts and other favours from you.

Mr. Ex President, I need to reiterate that, not all of these party faithful are well-intentioned. For some, they are looking for an opportunity to satisfy the ‘hunger’ they have been enduring, since the NDC left office in 2016. As a result, they will grab opportunities with both hands, and in the end, some will be reckless in their display of greed and unquenchable desires to accumulate wealth.

As a journalist, my colleagues and I, will be watching closely to fish out such characters; and in accordance with the ethics of the profession, we will shine the light on their misdemeanors. Bear in mind that, that light will not shine on their heads alone. Indeed, as the overall ‘boss’, some of the rays will focus on you. Even if you do not engage in any of these ‘misdemeanors’ directly, you, as John Dramani Mahama, will even become the centre of attraction, by means of ‘vicarious liability’.

If you do not want such a spectacle, then starting from now, you must start sounding the alarm that, you will be bold and fearless in dealing with all persons, who will engage in all manner of corrupt practices, when you win power.

If you cannot do this and damn the consequences, please shut your ears to the calls for you to contest for the presidency again. Ghanaians may have voted you out because they thought you were corrupt. This impression will deepen and worsen if you don’t crack the whip should you return to power.

Again, will your party allow you do that? Will the complex dynamics of partisan politics, permit you to deal ruthlessly with your appointees, in your next regime, should you win? If you cannot be bold, independent and fearless in stamping out embezzlement, more than you have ever done, it is better you left the political space completely, ignore 2024 and continue to live life as a well-respectable statesman.

As I have stated previously, Ghana needs a refreshing change, but not necessarily in you, John Dramani Mahama. If anybody from the ruling New Patriotic Party is able to articulate that newness, Ghanaians may listen.

However, if you believe you have that renewed charm that will make young people like me believe in Ghana’s politics again, then it is fair you joined the race. If not, your absence will do you more good.

Let me end with this scenario. Imagine you’re President of Ghana in 2025, and things get worse. Can you gauge the level of disappointment we will have in the political class? Can you measure the extent of apathy, that young people will develop?

We have seen you before, and now we are privy to what Akufo-Addo has to offer. If you come again, and there’s no difference, I dare say that your country will be set on a dangerous path, where citizens may not think twice about thrashing democracy and looking for other alternatives. For you in particular, the National Democratic Congress, may collapse completely, and your name will be used in explaining the destruction of the umbrella family.

These possibilities are true, yet I don’t think that is what you want should you be re-elected. If so, then kindly gird your loins to be a fearless bull and a roaring lion, should Ghanaians accept you again. Make up your mind, Mr. Ex President to cut down on government expenditure and heed to all the calls that Ghanaians have been making IF you return. Be deliberate about this, and start showing such indications from now.

That way, your return will be a welcome development, which will etch your name in the golden annals of the country’s history. But if you lack what it takes to satisfy the cravings of Ghanaians, regarding the newness we all want, you will be noted as that despised leader who drowned the country on two occasions.

So the ball is in your court. Can you overcome the system and be different? If not, stay with Madam Lordina and enjoy the calm of statesmanship. After all, you have some fame and credit to your name, don’t you? While living a quiet and peaceable life, like the Bible commands, writers like myself may want to take lessons from your statesman-like epistles, which you could be writing occasionally.

And oh! I heard you were an emcee from the outset. Well, that enterprise is also part of my stock in trade. And so you see, coupled with your lofty leadership experiences, you could mentor, groom and inspire many young people like myself, without being in the thick of political affairs.

Mr. President, you will be appreciated more in this light, than to return and fail. That failure is possible, but if you can truly raise the flag high, I am sure the heavens will even help you. Otherwise, please stay home and inspire, Sir.

In this season of ‘Ghana Month”, do accept my warmest felicitations. It’s a wrap for now.

The author of this piece, is a writer, a broadcast journalist and a corporate emcee, with the Multimedia Group. Currently, he is also a nominee for the 2022 BBC World News Komla Dumor Award.

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