Five or so months after losing the December 2016 elections, former President John Dramani Mahama is still groping for the factors accounting for his devastating loss to Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
While in Durban, South Africa, attending the World Economic Forum last week, he attributed his shocking defeat to a fresh set of factors, one of them being his sincerity about the state of the economy as against the rosy presentation by his opponent.
According to the former president, it was this rosy picture of ‘heaven on earth’ which Nana Akufo-Addo presented that swayed the votes in his favour.
Many would wonder whether the foregone factor represents a euphemism for deceit in his estimation, on the part of his opponent which accounted for the record electoral defeat in local terms.
“I knew what the economy could give the people and I told the people the truth that we need more hard work to be able to get out of where we are; my opponent promised heaven and you have the constraints of not being able to promise all the rosy things he was doing,” he said on the sidelines of the forum.
Former President Mahama, it would be recalled, told Ghanaians that the economy was in good shape under his stewardship and so if anybody presented a rosy picture of the fiscal state of the country, it was he.
Continuing his speech, he said he was a victim of “incumbency disadvantage,” another factor which many would question, given the advantages incumbency presented during the 2016 campaign.
His positions notwithstanding, he was not in doubt about the decision of his compatriots when he continued, “…The people made a choice and voted me out,” adding that what he suffered was part of a learning process.
“It is part of the learning process for all of us.”
The former president leaves nobody in doubt about the painful exit he made after a term in office – the first to be recorded in local political history.
He said, “if he [President Nana Akufo-Addo] is able to deliver on his promises, good; if he is not able too, the people would have learnt that not all that glitters is gold.”
The subject of incumbency has been the central point in many a discussion by civil societies, given the advantages it presents to presidents who go into electoral duels with the opposition.
Former President John Mahama was largely accused of using state resources such as Ghana Air Force aircraft for his campaign rounds across the country.
He was reported to have told Nana Akufo-Addo sarcastically of sleeping off on his road travels and so did not take note of the quality of roads he (Mahama) had constructed in the Western Region, and got a devastating response from his opponents.
They told him that he was always airborne on his campaign trail using state aircraft for his trips and so did not know the true state of the roads.
For those who hold this view, it would be difficult convincing them that the former president suffered the incumbency disadvantage.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) – his party – has set up a committee to find out what accounted for the loss of the party to the NPP.
The former president’s accounts, cut and dry, could be valuable to the committee if it finds them credible and worthy of consideration.
He told world leaders to be accountable to their compatriots as a means of building state institutions.
It is interesting to note that Mr Mahama seeks to campaign for the strengthening of public institutions, considering the appalling state of such bodies in the country.
The government of President Akufo-Addo is still grappling with the sorry state of state institutions, some of them unable to even ensure that people who owed the state paid up.
The people must know what public funds are used for, he said, explaining that this is a means of building confidence in public institutions of the country.
“Every month when I work, part of my salary is taken as tax, so as a citizen I want to be sure that whoever has been elected into government is going to be accountable on how he uses that money,” Nana Addo underscored.
Former President John Mahama’s discourse would provoke interesting and divisive discussions among his compatriots, coming at a time when the new government is taking stock of what went wrong under his stewardship.