Smooth Ghana Transition Is Model For Rest Of Africa

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[Global: Africa]

Africa's Beacon Shines Again With Transition

On Tuesday, hours after Ghana's President John Atta Mills died, Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as President, with no equivocation over the constitutionality of his ascending to that post.

Compare this to deaths of two African presidents in recent times; one in Nigeria and the other in Malawi. 

In Nigeria, after President Umaru Yar’Adua became ill to the extent that he was flown out of the country to Saudi Arabia and despite being aware for more than two months about his grave condition, a group of cabalistic power-hungry individuals led by his wife, not only refused to acknowledge the seriousness of Yar’Adua’s illness, but tried to prevent Vice President Goodluck Jonathan from becoming acting President.

It took the courage of legislators to dismiss the fact that the President had not written a letter announcing he was going on medical leave, to appoint Jonathan Acting President.  Even after Yar’Adua’s death, the cabal brought back his body into the country without informing the Acting President.

The recent case of the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi is another example of where people who thought they were too powerful tried to thwart the constitution of the country to corrupt the political process and deny the assumption of the presidency of Malawi by Deputy President Joyce Banda.  Mr. Mutharika had been grooming his brother to take over after leaving the presidency.  Fortunately, the people of Malawi led by the Chief Justice would not allow a "legal" coup d’etat to deny Ms. Banda the presidency.

Now we come to Ghana, where within hours of the President passing away, the Vice President's swearing in assured continuity. Ghana set another example for African leaders to emulate as the country has done with its democratic elections.

Jerry Rawlings set the example, though he had to live down his earlier image as a brutal murderer and dictator, when he became the embodiment of democracy extraordinaire by ensuring free and fair elections after he finished his constitutionally mandated two terms. It allowed the opposition to win and President John Kufuour took over.

It is that same foundation for democracy that Rawlings established that made it possible for his party in opposition to snatch back the presidency after Kufuour’s two terms, ushering in President John Atta Mills. What’s most admirable in Ghanaian politicians is that they have principles, they are not carpet-baggers, crossing over to the party in party so that they could corruptly enrich themselves.

John Atta Mills was not a bomb-thrower like Jerry Rawlings, but he ushered in a great period of economic growth for Ghana, though Rawlings tried to deny him a second term by sponsoring his wife to challenge the now-deceased president’s nomination for re-election this year. Atta Mills expanded the circle of peace, prosperity and assertive confidence back into the Ghanaian people.

We hope successor John Dramani Mahama will follow in Mills’ footsteps.


Former Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, who has been sworn in as the president of Ghana following the death of John Atta Mills, is regarded as a champion of the underprivileged.

He also has a keen interest in the environment, particularly the problem of plastic pollution in Africa. A Christian, Mr. Mahama is a respected historian, writer and communications specialist. He recently published a book, entitled “My First Coup d’Etat”, looking at the political problems that have gripped Africa since independence.

Mr. Mahama was born at Bole-Bamboi in Ghana’s northern region on 29 November 1958. He spent much of his 20s and 30s studying, including a period in Moscow, and worked for four years as an information officer at the Japanese embassy in Accra.

John Dramani Mahama also served as a member of the Pan African Parliament in South Africa. He joined the non-governmental organisation PLAN International in 1995, working as a sponsorship and grants manager in the Ghana country office.

In December 1996, Mr. Mahama was elected to his first term as MP, running on the ticket of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) party. Mr. Mahama served as deputy communication minister from April 1997 to November 1998, stepping up to head the ministry for the following two years.

While communications minister, Mr. Mahama also served as the Chairman of the National Communications Authority, and played a key role in stabilising the Ghana telecom sector after deregulation in 1997. He also served as a member of the Pan African Parliament based in Pretoria, South Africa from 2004 to 2011 where he was Chairman of the West Africa Caucus.

On 7 January 2009, Mr. Mahama became Ghana’s vice-president, remaining in the post until Mr. Atta Mills’ death.
He is married to Lordina Mahama and has seven children.

(The Section about profile is from The BBC)

Dr. Onyeani publishes The African Sun Times

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