Archive for November 2013


“One man’s good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him.” –Niccolo Machiavelli

Ghana’s President, John Mahama, and Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, have a few things in common. Jonathan was born on November 20, 1957, and almost exactly a year later, Mahama was born on November 29, 1958. Jonathan was Nigeria’s Vice-President for three years, from 2007 to 2010 and constitutionally replaced his boss, Umaru Yar’Adua, as President, when the latter died in May 2010. Similarly, Mahama was Ghana’s Vice President for three years, from 2009 to 2012, and assumed office as President, following the death of his predecessor, President John Atta Mills.

In addition, and more significantly, both Jonathan and Mahama won their countries’ respective presidential elections after a few months on the saddle to complete their predecessors’ terms. Jonathan won Nigeria’s 2011 presidential elections and thus earned a 4-year term to 2015 whilst Mahama won Ghana’s 2012 presidential polls and will equally serve a 4-year term to 2016.

Furthermore, Jonathan and Mahama also have a gentle and meek disposition which may, in fact, have been a decisive factor in their being picked as running mates by their now departed predecessors.

By and large, that is where the similarities between Jonathan and Mahama end. In terms of their approach to governance, which is the all-important thing, considering the stakes involved in their respective offices, Jonathan and Mahama are worlds apart!

Whereas Mahama is a no-nonsense leader who is conscious of the need to tackle, head-on, the bane of corruption in his country, Jonathan, since taking office, has aided and abetted corruption and even given flimsy excuses to justify his administration’s feeble anti-corruption efforts. A case in point was when Mahama sacked his ex-deputy minister of communications, Victoria Hammah, on November 8 simply for suggesting that she could be corrupt. In fact, the difference couldn’t be starker as, at the same time, Jonathan has been indecisive on and cowardly defensive of Stella Oduah, his aviation minister, whose recent authorisation of an extra-budgetary and exhorbitant purchase of two bulletproof cars has, unsurprisingly, drawn the ire of many Nigerians with calls for her immediate sacking!

Again, whereas Mahama, in his first budget, in 2014, after being elected president, is careful to reduce his government’s recurrent expenditure so as to allow more funds to go into programmes that would benefit the masses, Jonathan has been very reckless in his spending of state funds. In fact, in the 2012 budget, which was likewise his first as an elected president, Jonathan infamously and outrageously allocated ₦1bn to feed himself and his family, at the same time that he was asking Nigerians to make sacrifices and bear with the [partial] removal of the fuel subsidy and also spending an annual ₦9.08bn to service the 10 aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet which instead ought to be cut down. On November 21, Ghana’s cabinet spokesman announced that, to “demonstrate leadership,” President Mahama, his Vice-President and all ministers have agreed to a voluntary 10% pay cut in their 2014 budget and that the money realised from the pay cut would be committed to a special fund to cater for community maternal and neonatal health.

It has been rightly said that there will never be a second chance to make a good first impression and, going by their attitudes to their first budgets as elected presidents, Jonathan and Mahama have demonstrated opposing priorities with the former pursuing a cowardly and profligate path and the latter, opting for a more sensible and conscientious course.

Indeed, shortly after his election in December 2012, Mahama visited Jonathan and requested him to facilitate the prompt repair of the broken West African Gas Pipeline which supplies Nigerian gas to power Ghana’s electricity even though, without the pipeline, as findings by Ghana’s Energy Ministry show, Ghana still enjoyed an uninterrupted power supply to over 72% of its population. “I discussed with President Jonathan the issue of the West Africa Gas Pipeline… I want him to use his influence to get the pipeline back into operation as soon as possible so that Ghana can continue to receive Nigerian gas to power our electricity generation,” Mahama said. It won’t be impossible to think that, as he has done on most other concerns of governance, even those involving critical sectors and issues, if Jonathan was in Mahama’s shoes, rather than take direct and pragmatic steps to remedy the broken pipeline, he would have preferred to create a committee to investigate why the pipeline wasn’t functioning and then proceeded to ignore the matter!

Of course, this is not to say that Mahama is an apotheosis of effective governance, especially after less than one year in office but, overall, going by his prompt response to sack Hammah following her ill-advised and shameful statement disclosing an intention to be corrupt as well as his leading his cabinet to consent to a voluntary 10% pay cut in their 2014 budget, one can safely say that he is clearly on a different trajectory than the corrupt, inept and mostly unproductive one undertaken by Jonathan, since 2010.

Governance is not rocket science as some Jonathan apologists want us to think, in an often unconvincing attempt to defend his profligacy and abetting of corruption. Mahama is demonstrating the kind of good leadership that Jonathan has proven incapable of matching. If Jonathan will only take a look at some of the bold moves being made by President Mahama in next door Ghana, he would learn a lot.


Posted November 30, 2013 by Raymond Eyo in Politics

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