In 1887 opinion letter expressed by one of the famous British political historians or moralists widely known as Lord Acton, civilized societies were advised or warned that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Since the expression of this opinion over 130 something years ago, social scientists, especially in the political realm, have not only come to underscore the truthfulness of this hypothesis through empirical studies, but also almost all modern communities understand the implications of unchecked human power.
Indeed human power, in all its various dimensions, if not put in check or limit its scope, tends to have corrosive effects in which its duration can linger for generations. It is probably why in our present-day political systems when one hears the concept of checks and balances or government term limits, in essence we are affirming the fact that unlimited “power tends to corrupt” and that it has strong potential to drive some people insane to say and do damaging things to their fellow humans.
So, where are we going with this in relationship with former president John Dramani Mahama’s behaviors and public comments? First, it’s apparent the current NDC flag bearer is power-drunk and unappeasably hungry for more and more political power, having experienced variety of powerful positions before as assembly member, minister of state, vice president, and ultimately as president of the republic of our dear country.
Premised on each level of his former positions, Mr. Mahama has clearly come to understand the extent to which power can be used, both in positive and negative terms, to do a great deal of things for oneself, family, friends, supporters, including non-supporters alike. On the latter point let’s keep in mind some people in power use their position to jail, torture, and even employ state-sanctioned killings of their political opponents.
It is widely known in Ghana today that Mr. Mahama as then president allegedly used his immense power to enable one of his siblings lucratively secure bauxite concession deal in Nyinahin in Ashanti region. With no presidential power under his belt now, presumably Mr. Mahama can’t guarantee the successful conclusion or seal the mining deal for the said family member. Most likely, it is one of these obvious reasons eating up the former president and hence driving him insane to engage in some unguarded public remarks inconsistent with the prestigious status of a former head of state.
Because of his wolfish appetite for power and how intoxicated he seems to have become under the influence of political power, ex-president Mahama visibly talks and behaves quite “abnormally” if one observes him dispassionately. To be fair, though, one needs to “sympathize” with the Bole show-boy and comes to grips with the reality that throughout his almost adult life, political power invariably has defined the public persona or identity of Mr. John Mahama.
Ghanaians mostly know JDM via his political exploits. Without politics Mr. Mahama doesn’t have a well-defined professional career upon which to make all the money he appears to have now. For example, take a quick look at the professions of the following former 4th Republic Ghanaian presidents: JJ Rawlings was an air force pilot; JA Kufuor a lawyer; late Atta-Mills was a university professor, and Nana Akufo-Addo the current president is also a lawyer by trade. What exactly is ex-president Mahama’s trained profession that defines who he is aside from politics? In fact, many of us don’t know much regarding JDM’s true profession except some public narratives out there that he is a “communicator.”
Thus taking all this into account, one shouldn’t be amazed the NDC’s 2020 presidential contestant is talking and acting as if winning the presidency is inseparably linked to his personal survival, and that he has to become president again at all cost because his 2016 electoral defeat was an aberrant event. From this political posturing, therefore, Mr. Mahama doesn’t see anything wrong by hastily gathering foreign diplomats in Ghana or abroad while incoherently telling them how socioeconomically rotten or politically chaotic this nation is under the current government.
Definitely, it will take an act of insanity and helplessly confused mindset for a person aspiring to become the president of his country to seek to undermine or doubt the fairness of the electoral system he played a crucial role in its restructuring, at least in terms of hand-picking the topmost official of the commission that conducted the very elections he is talking about.
Nostalgic for, and consumed so much by power, it appears the former president can’t put his thought together well, so he recently complains to the whole world that “During the last Presidential Election in Ghana, the Electoral Commission directed its staff to stop using the electronic result transmission system to communicate results to the tallying center because the system had been compromised. The results had to, therefore, be tallied manually, leading to attendant tensions in the delay of the announcement of the final results.”
Mr. John D. Mahama does not stop there but he goes on to garble that “As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out any investigation into what compromised their IT system. And even if they have, we the stakeholders, the political parties, have not been briefed on what caused the corruption of the system. In the interest of transparency, it is important for Ghanaians to understand what happened before we go into another election” (mynewsgh.com).
Is Mr. Mahama simply losing it? For this is the guy or then incumbent president whose “gold standard” (former) Electoral Commissioner Ms. Charlotte Osei was fully in charge of the Ghanaian general elections in 2016 when the so-called electoral transmission system got compromised. If that were the case, why didn’t he ask and find out from his beloved EC at the time but went ahead and conceded defeat without raising “electoral transparency” issues back then till about three years after?
It really is true that the most effective way to understand a person’s true character is to give him or her power for a while and then take it away from him and see how he/she behaves. By now l guess all smart Ghanaians know the striking difference between then president Mahama with almost all the levers of state power at his disposal, and the former president Mahama desperately trying to become president one more time. Caustic effect of power can make some people lose their minds, indeed; and even encourage lawlessness on subconscious level.
Bernard Asubonteng is US-based writer