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Criticism of Mahama, not surprisingly, is a veiled rebuke of Northerners


Criticizing President John Mahama has become the game de jour in Ghana and an assortment of players  from opposition politicians to clergymen, academics and rabid radio presenters are vying to take potshots at the beleaguered Chief Executive.

The unrelenting excoriation prompted in the main by the struggling economy borders on the absurd and runs the risk of turning shrill, repetitious and poisoning the national political discourse.

Poor President John Mahama — just when his political career peaked with his election as President he is slammed by a triple-headed problem — a groaning economy with rising unemployment, a skeptical population burdened by hardship and an emboldened opposition screaming for his political scalp.

I have no misgivings about criticism. A healthy dose of criticism is therapeutic. It keeps the target on his/her toes. Indeed democracies thrive on it. But criticism is worth its weight in gold if it is constructive, is devoid of animus and is designed to spur societal change. Cloaked in negativity and vileness however, criticism loses its potency and relevance.

While criticism can be fair and objective, there is no running away from the fact that the  criticism of Mahama is laced with tribal bigotry and rancid bitterness. If you doubt my assertion,  take a cursory look at the crowd of carnival barkers.

With the exception of Dr. Bawumia who has increasingly sounded shrill and hysterical — his recent attack on his former employer, Bank of Ghana, speaks volumes about how delusional the young man has become — a disproportionate number of Mahama’s critics hail from the south. And these men are  pushing a false narrative about the President’s policies and competence.

At the head of this ravenous pack is the insufferable and twice defeated NPP Presidential candidate, Akuffo Addo who had the temerity to criticize Mahama while purportedly recuperating in London. He has not stopped heaping blame on the President for the poor performance of the economy. Of course, Addo has his eyes set on the ultimate prize, the Presidency, so one can understand his motives.

Bringing up the rear is a gaggle of southern blowhards, one of whom is the irritant Dr. Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church who has on numerous occasions lamented the sorry state of the economy and spared no effort in depicting Mahama as incapable of leading an economic revival.

Here he was calling for a change in leadership, “All is not well…..I believe that we need a new leadership. The times we are in require leadership that responds to crisis with clarity and purpose.”

Not to be outdone, another member of the clergy, Reverend Opuni of the Christian Council chimed in, “The growing spate of demonstrations by civil society groups and Ghanaians indicates a loss of confidence in government.”

Then we have the self-styled financial advisor, Sydney Casely Hayford offering his two cents, “Fact of the matter is we have a paralysis in leadership, we are not able to make the decisions we need to make in order to change things.”

Any time one of these hyper-partisan naysayers and others of their ilk slither out of their hole to assail the President and to accuse him of inept management of the economy and tag him with offensive terms —“incompetent” “visionless” and “clueless”—-they are implicitly sending a message — Mahama is inept and therefore doesn’t deserve to be steering the affairs of state.  In other words, northerners can’t be trusted to run the country.

This is a dangerous and divisive notion and it is being swirled around by these petty southerners whose sole purpose is to tar all northerners for the perceived “incompetency” of a single individual – Mahama.  If allowed to fester, this idea could create fissures in our political system, cement a deep distrust of southerners among northerners and leave a lingering bitterness that would take generations to assuage.

Mahama’s treatment at the hands of his southern political foes is analogous to the treatment of President Barack Obama by Republicans who have called him all kinds of names under the sun. Both are Mahama and Obama are minorities who have risen to the top of their careers, so the animosity towards them from the majority is not unexpected.

It is an open secret that Southerners have always sought to marginalize Northerners who they view as Neanderthals, a group of people from the backwaters who should be confined to the periphery of Ghanaian society.  They have been especially hostile to government programs designed to educate northerners and to help with the wealth divide that continues to dog the nation.

But more crucially, the treatment of Mahama is painfully reminiscent of the hounding that curtailed the careers of the late President Hilla Limann and the late Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Southerners spared no effort in handicapping these northern stalwarts, one of whom was forcefully removed from office and the other denied a chance to become his party’s presidential candidate. 

To cast doubt on the ability of Mahama and by implication northerners to rule the country demonstrates a crude lack of scruples on the part of southerners. Need I remind the President’s virulent critics that the north abounds with individuals, male and female, who are intelligent and business savvy to be capable managers. All they need is a chance to prove their mettle.



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