An unemployed man broke protocol Wednesday when apparently moved by what former President John Dramani Mahama was telling a crowd at Zuarungu in the Bolgatanga East Constituency, he suddenly took about six bold steps to the ex-president and shook hands firmly with him.
It was so unexpected even a red-shirted security guard, who was closer to the former ECOWAS Chairman on the stage than the ‘commoner’ who was seated on a canopied floor of the Zuarungu Catholic Social Centre, arrived too late to do his job.
Looking rather fascinated than intimidated by the status of the former Chairman of the AU Trade Committee, the man, wearing a striped smock and a black cap, walked to the stage with an outstretched arm and with long, decisive steps as though taking a measure of a plot of land or a goalpost by foot. His name was mentioned to Starr News by his younger brother as Aduko Abazele.
In a reaction similar to Jesus’ let-the-children-come remarks to his disciples, Mahama’s body language to his interfering bodyguard looked like ‘do not forbid him’ as the one-time Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and the poor man locked hands cordially to the cheers of a surprised crowd.
The development— a breach of protocol and an unexpected handshake reward— was, perhaps, the most captivating thing that marked the first day of a four-day tour of the Upper East region by Mahama, who has one day left (Friday) to wind up his campaign in the region for re-election as presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) ahead of the 2020 general elections.
The rare interaction is generating public discussions as its reports spread, with former Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga, Emmanuel Opam-Brown Akolbire, telling Starr News the reception Mahama accorded his admirer Wednesday was in sharp contrast to what was captured on a video tape when an elderly man, who breached protocol when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was on a nationwide tour this year, was met with a punch in the face by a security guard.
“It just goes to show one thing: the humility of former President John Dramani Mahama. From his demeanour, his facial expression alone, you saw that he was friendly towards an unknown person, somebody who was excited that the former president was around. He walked straight there, stretched his hand. You saw that the former president was holding the microphone with his right hand; he took it (the microphone) to the left and shook hands with the gentleman. It is in sharp contrast to when somebody saw Akufo-Addo; he was excited; he just moved towards the car and he had a terrible punch on the face.
“That is the difference between the personality of JM (John Mahama) and the other people. Ghanaians should know that humility is what a leader should have. If you don’t have the patience to listen to people, how would you know the things that are worrying the people? For example, a chief from the Volta region asked a question. And from the demeanour, the answer that President Akufo-Addo gave, you see that he was getting angry. But JM would never have behaved like that. That is why he is loved so much by the people,” remarked Opam-Brown.
Whilst addressing party delegates, Mahama hailed the Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga East, Dr Dominic Ayine, describing him as “one of our sterling-jewel Members of Parliament that we have in our front bench.”
“I thank you for giving him to us. I mean when you watch him in Parliament, he is extraordinary,” Mahama stated.
When the MP took his turn to address the crowd, he said God was a card-bearing member of the NDC. The high-spirited crowd rooted, waiting for an explanation.
“God is NDC. He is a card-bearing member of the NDC. This is a very serious and profound thing that I’m saying. It’s because we worked so hard as a party and a government. We were vilified. We were called all kinds of names. And you (looking at Mahama) took those insults on our behalf. For some of us who worked with you and behind the scenes, it was very painful to see your level of commitment, your level of integrity, your level of vision for this country and yet you were being treated as if you were an outcast and NDC was being treated as if it was an outcast.
“Today, God has revealed to us the people who were talking as if they were going to bring us manna from heaven. Today, Ghanaians are suffering. And it is God who wanted you to step aside. And you said so in May of 2017 at Ashaiman that God wanted you to step aside so that Ghanaians would see the NPP for who they are. And today Ghanaians have seen them for who they are. And that is why I am saying I am convinced God is a card-bearing member of the NDC,” explained the former Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General.
NPP has Abandoned Upper East Regional Hospital— Mahama
Speaking hours later to delegates at the Sacred Heart Catholic Social Centre in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency, the former President slammed the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), saying it had abandoned the Upper East Regional Hospital expansion project initiated by his government.
“We said we would build hospitals. We said every region must have a well-equipped regional hospital. And so we started work on the Bolga Hospital. We finished the physical construction. We needed additional top-up funding for the equipment.
“We sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia. They agreed. We signed the MOU. They agreed to provide a top-up for the equipment and then we left power. Since then no work is going on and so the hospital has come to a standstill,” Mahama told a cheering hall Wednesday night.
He added: “When NDC came to office, the number of Ghanaians that had access to clean drinking water was 58% in 2009. By the time we left in 2016, the number of Ghanaians who had access to clean drinking water was 76%. Let us be principled politicians. Let us tell the people exactly what we can do for them. And the people will understand.”