“We believe that only one person can emerge as the winner. And while it is true that only one person can be elected President, in reality, and certainly in a democracy such as ours, every election is an opportunity for the people of this nation to express their will, to have their say in who will lead them in the shaping of Ghana’s future.”
By those words, a man of honour, courage, gallantry and exemplary conduct that had had the opportunity of leading his country in many capacities, including communications industry, took a bow and indeed heroically sealed peaceful existence of the Gold Coast country, Ghana. With his shining record of achievements in many areas in which he has served the country, President John Dramani Mahama added another cap to his feather by conducting a free and fair election as the incumbent President and conceding defeat in total respect for the will of the people. African is indeed rising with people like Mahama at the helm, and showing such exemplary leadership steps.
Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in the 1996 elections to represent the Bole/Bamboi Constituency for a four-year term. In April 1997, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications. He became the substantive Minister of Communications in November 1998; a position he held until January 2001 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the then ruling party, handed over power to the New Patriotic Party’s government.
In 2000, Mahama was re-elected for another four-year term as the Member of Parliament for the Bole/Bamboi Constituency. He was again re-elected in 2004 for a third term. From 2001 to 2004, Mahama served as the Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications. In 2002, he was appointed the Director of Communications for the NDC. That same year, he served as a member of the team of International Observers selected to monitor Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Elections.
During his tenure as Minister of Communications, Mahama also served as the Chairman of the National Communications Authority, in which capacity he played a key role in stabilising Ghana’s telecommunications sector after it was deregulated in 1997. As a minister, he was a founding member of the Ghana AIDS Commission, a member of the implementation committee of the 2000 National Population Census and a deputy chairman of the Publicity Committee for the re-introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).
Continuing to expand his interest and involvement in international affairs, in 2003 Mahama became a member of the Pan-African Parliament, serving as the Chairperson of the West African Caucus until 2011. He was also a member of European and Pan African Parliaments’ Ad-hoc Committee. In 2005 he was, additionally, appointed the Minority Spokesman for Foreign Affairs. He is a member of the UNDP Advisory Committee on Conflict Resolution in Ghana.
On 7 January 2009, Mahama became the Vice-President of Ghana. He also served as the Chairman of the National Economic Management Team, the Armed Forces Council of Ghana, the Decentralisation and Implementation Committee and the Police Council of Ghana in this capacity.
In line with Ghana’s constitution, Mahama became President of Ghana on 24 July 2012 on the death of his predecessor, President John Atta Mills. Mahama said in parliament upon being sworn in: “This is the saddest day in our nation’s history. Tears have engulfed our nation and we are deeply saddened and distraught…. I’m personally devastated, I’ve lost a father, I’ve lost a friend, I’ve lost a mentor and a senior comrade. Ghana is united in grief at this time for our departed president.”
As a result of his elevation to the presidency, Mahama, born November 29, 1958, made political history by becoming the first Ghanaian leader to have been born after Ghana’s attainment of independence from British colonial rule on 6 March 1957. This passing on of the mantle of leadership to a relatively younger Mahama symbolised changing paradigms from the old paternalism characteristic of African politics to a new generation of post-independence born, innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers battle-ready to take on pressing challenges such as climate change and food security facing modern democracies in an idea-driven 21st century.
The NDC held a Special National Delegates Congress, on 30 August 2012 and endorsed President John Dramani Mahama, as the 2012 presidential candidate. President Mahama, the sole candidate of the party, polled 2, 767 votes, representing 99.5% of total votes cast, to pick the slot for the party. Mahama has stated that his administration was deeply committed to continuing the Better Ghana Agenda started under late President Mills.
Mahama won the December 2012 general election with 50.70% of the total valid votes cast and a 3% winning margin beating his nearest rival, Nana Akufo-Addo of the main opposition, New Patriotic Party who polled a close 47.74%. Thirteen African Heads of State, one Prime Minister, two Vice-Presidents and 18 government delegations across the world attended his inaugural ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra on 7 January 2013 when he was sworn-in to begin his own four-year term.
Widely acclaimed both locally and internationally for his natural charisma, affable, down to earth personality and sterling leadership qualities, he is arguably the first Ghanaian leader to have served at all levels of political office (Ghanaian and Pan-African MP, Deputy Minister, Minister, Vice-President and President).
He received an honorary doctorate in the field of Public Administration, by the Ekiti State University of Nigeria, in “recognition of his politico-socio economic development of Ghana and Africa at various stages of his political career.”
The Cuban government, recognising his relentless advocacy for the Cuban cause, namely the lifting of the 50-year economic embargo on the communist country and for the freedom of the detained Cuban five by the United States government, conferred on him the Friendship Medal.
The Graduate School of Governance and Leadership also awarded him the African Servant Leadership Award while the Institute of Public Relations recognized Mr. Mahama with a prize for his leadership acumen and technocratic flair. Furthermore, the General Council of Assemblies of God, Ghana honoured Mahama with its prestigious honour the “Daniel Award “for his exceptional leadership qualities.
While he triumphed over Nana Akufo-Ado in the 2012 elections, the twist of fate and history turned the tables; and, it was to Akufo-Ado that Mahama lost in the November 2017 presidential elections.
But even in loss, Mahama exhibited the candour and exemplary qualities that make him indeed an African icon by accepting defeat calmly; and instead preparing for another day.