Former President John Dramani Mahama has recently been trending in the news for the reason that a comment he made has been deemed by many to be controversial.
The former President, alluding to the expression; “all die be die”, has said his party the opposition National Democratic Congress will go all out in ensuring that all ballots are adequately protected and counted in the 2024 general elections.
Mr. Mahama’s statement has caused a sharp divide in opinions as some people have condemned the statements which they say denotes violence, while others including members of his party have defended the statement.
GhanaWeb lists below four times former President John Dramani Mahama has courted controversy from his public utterances.
I have a dead goat syndrome
In the month of March in 2015, then president, John Mahama’s administration was hit by a series of strikes and protests. These were held by some labour unions and other groups who were unhappy about poor conditions of service, poor delivery of services and economic hardship.
The President, interacting with the Ghanaian community in Botswana during an international visit, addressed the labour unrest saying, “I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years. I don’t think it can get worse. It is said that when you kill a goat and you frighten it with a knife, it doesn’t fear the knife, because it is dead already.”
The statement by Mr Mahama became a point of reference for his opponents who capitalised on the sentiments it generated to tag him as a leader who is insensitive to the plight of his subjects.
The “dead goat” statement by former President Mahama is seen by many to have played a role in his loss in the 2016 presidential elections.
You can’t criticise me if you have not been president before
In the heat of the campaign ahead of the 2016 general elections, John Dramani Mahama who was president at the time in November 2015, fumed at the then running mate of the New Patriotic Party, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
Mr. Mahama, in response to Dr. Bawumia who had described him (Mahama) as incompetent over excessive government borrowing, said Dr. Bawumia had no right to criticize him as he had not been anywhere close to the presidency before.
“Did you hear Bawumia say incompetent Mahama? You’ve never held any responsibility anywhere near the presidency before; you don’t know what it is like to be president?
“I’ll take that word from Kufuor or from Rawlings because they’ve been there before. All of you guys [NPP critics] have never ever come near the presidency. [Do] you know what it takes to be a president? And you stand and say incompetent Mahama administration,” Mahama fumed during a rally held at Trade Fair in Accra.
According to him, members of the NPP referred to him and his government as incompetent as though they have been groomed to say so without any proper assessment of his performance.
“All of them, in the offices they occupied, they should tell us what competence they displayed.
“Anyway, my competence is not for them to judge, it’s for the people of Ghana to judge, and I know that come 7 November 2016, the people of Ghana will judge my competence and they’ll give me a second term in office and NDC will win another victory by the grace of almighty God,” he stated.
Opinions were highly divided over the comment as for many, it came off as though Mr Mahama was indicating that only people who have held the position of a president have the right to criticise a sitting president.
Akyem Sakawa Mafia
Former President Mahama in September 2020 took over the news space when he shared a piece authored by the Member of Parliament for Balgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo. In this piece, Isaac Adongo referred to President Akufo-Addo and some members of his family who were associated with the controversial Agyapa deal as “Akyem Sakawa Mafia Boys.”
President Mahama by sharing Mr Adongo’s post was deemed by his critics to have endorsed the “Akyem Sakawa Mafia” tag which was described as tribalistic.
President Akufo-Addo himself was one of the people who took offence with the former President’s action.
At a meeting with the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the Jubilee House on Friday, August 4, 2020, President Akufo-Addo not only said he was “very disturbed” by the tagging of his ethnic group, but also said, “that is the kind of language we don’t want in our politics.”
“Sometimes, one would hope when things come out, people will comment on them. The comment made by my opponent: ‘Akyem Sakawa’ people, I have not heard any public figure in this country or anybody comment on it.”
“If I was to get up to make a comment about northerners or Gonjas, you can imagine the uproar that will be in the country,” the President bemoaned.
According to him, free speech must not be seen from the perspective of allowing the opposition to go at the government at the least opportunity.
“If you criticise the government, no matter what you say, it is legitimate. If the government is to respond, that is somehow illegitimate”, the president complained, adding: “If the president opens his mouth and says something that is unacceptable, he should be reprimanded. In the same way, opposition politicians, if they conduct themselves by their utterances in an unacceptable manner, they should be brought to book,” he added.
There were further calls on former President Mahama to apologise and retract for sharing the statement followed by a demonstration by the Chiefs and people of Akyem Traditional Area.
With several emphasis made by officials of the NDC that Mr Mahama was not going to apologise for the comment, the former president later clarified that “I didn’t say anybody is Akyem Sakawa. I read a statement by Isaac Adongo and he made a very good argument and my mind was on the body of the arguments he made. The arguments he made were very cogent and that is why I reposted [statement],” he said in an interview on Class FM.
Election 2024 will be a do or die affair
Former President Mahama has recently been in the news for a comment he made in relation to his party’s preparation for the 2024 general elections.
According to Mr Mahama, the NDC, having drawn lessons from the 2020 elections, will go all out to protect ballots during the election. He stated that the mission to protect ballots for the NDC will be a “do or die affair”
Mr Mahama’s comments were made on Tuesday, September 7 at the start of the second phase of his Thank You tour.
In an interview with Techiman-based Akina Radio, the three-time National Democratic Congress (NDC) Presidential Candidate said events during and after voting in the 2020 elections have taught his party a lot of lessons to make the 2024 polls a do-or-die affair for them.
“We have learnt our lessons from happenings during the 2020 polls,” Mr Mahama said.
“The 2024 elections will be won or lost at the polling station. It will be do-or-die at the polling stations. The right thing must be done during the polls. We will win the elections at the polling station and won’t wait for collation centre results nor petition the Supreme Court if aggrieved,” he added.
The comment has since received condemnation in certain quarters but Mr. Mahama has remained resolute and failed to retract them, saying they are different from the infamous ‘All die be die’ comments made by then-candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2012.
“It’s different from ‘All die be die’. ‘All die be die’ is broken English [or] pidgin jargon that we say but this, ‘Do or die’, go open a dictionary and see. And I say it’s a do-or-die affair.
“NDC must man the polling station, they must man the collation centres, make sure the pink sheets are correct, make sure we get the right results and everything because maybe someone else will be flagbearer. They will choose Supreme Court but if I become flagbearer I am not going to the Supreme Court.
“We must win at the polling station or collation centre.”
Despite subsequent attempts by the former president to justify and explain his comment, he has been criticised by many who say his comment was a call for violence.
Others have also equated the comment to a similar one made by then-candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2012.
The then NPP flagbearer speaking during a party congress said his party was not going to give room for rigging in that year’s election adding that the resolve to fight for the party to win power will be an all “die be die affair.”
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