Former President John Dramani Mahama has described “some” opinion leaders in the country as hypocrites.
According to him, those “hypocritical” opinion leaders only find their voices of condemnation of certain events in the country when those things happen under an administration of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), but go silent when similar things happen under the administration of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Without mentioning names, Mr Mahama, who is touring the Volta Region as part of his campaign to win the flag bearer slot of the NDC ahead of the 2020 polls, told delegates and party supporters at Battor in the North Tongu Constituency, that: “The problem with Ghana is the hypocrisy of some of our opinion leaders”.
“Anytime NDC is in power, they are always very vocal”, Mr Mahama observed, adding: “When something happens … they are condemning, but as soon as their preferred government comes into power, everything is right: ‘family and friends [government]’ is okay as long as they are qualified”.
“You think NPP will be in power forever”, he asked those opinion leaders rhetorically.
Mr Mahama’s comments came a day after the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante called on him to apologise to the nation for saying the NDC will match the NPP boot-for-boot with violence in the 2020 polls.
While addressing NDC delegates in the Adaklu Constituency of the Volta Region on Thursday, 31 January 2019, Mr Mahama said the NDC will match the NPP boot-for-boot in the 2020 elections if the government attempts to intimidate and harass NDC supporters with violence.
The former president’s comment followed a shooting incident at the La-Bawaleshie JHS polling station in the course of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election on the same day. The NDC accused the NPP of being behind the shooting.
Mr Mahama said: “We are not going to joke in 2020, and I’m sounding a warning to the NPP – we are going to match them boot for boot…”
“I want to sound a caution that NDC has a revolutionary root and when it comes to unleashing violence, no one can beat us to that. It is just that we are mindful of this country’s democracy and that is why we must be the first to respect it. That is why we are acting as a party that is docile and respecting the rule of law. But if we believe that the government cannot protect our people and we believe that the government is using its vigilante groups and illegal forces to intimidate and harass and injure our people, then we may have to advise ourselves.”
He added: “We respect the Constitution of this country and the NDC is a democratic party and that’s why we abide by the rules of the Constitution. But the same Constitution says that Ghanaians should resist anybody who attempts to subvert the Constitution. When you go rampaging with forces and intimidating people when they should come out and vote, you are subverting the Constitution. And we have a right to resist you.”
Reacting to Mr Mahama’s warning to the NPP, Rev. Asante told Benjamin Akakpo on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Friday, 1 February 2019, that the former president ought to be circumspect in his speech.
Rev. Asante said: “If President John Mahama did say what he said, then it is very unfortunate because he has been a head of state, he has been the president of the nation, he is vying for his party to make him the presidential candidate, and if the people of Ghana want him again, he could become the president of this nation. And if it is going to be ‘boot-for-boot’ for the nation to be on fire, then there is no mercy for anybody. And I think it is unfortunate that in anger, such things should be said.
“I pray and I want to believe that he didn’t mean it, he did it out of anger. We have to be very circumspect and under such circumstances watch the things that we say.
“If he said that, I would want to say that President Mahama, with all humility, I will plead with him to apologise to the nation. In making that statement, he has really created fear in the hearts of people and it’s not just President Mahama I will say this to, I want to say this to all our leaders, people we are looking up to in this nation; that under such circumstances one would expect that they will be the voice of wisdom, a voice that will calm tension, a voice that will help Ghanaians to be able to say: Indeed, we have leaders. So, please let’s be very careful about these things that we say”.
Touching on the silence of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo 24 hours after the shooting incident, Rev Asante said: “Sometimes, it is important for us to learn native wisdom. The Akans say one who is a leader does not simply jump into situations. When matters happen, you’ll assess the situation, you get all the information before you talk. The thing happened yesterday, it is too early for people to say the president has kept silent on this matter. It is not for me to defend or speak for anybody.”