The comeback kid: Four things John Mahama can do to recapture the presidency

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There is divided opinion about John Mahama’s potential to become president again. While some of his die-hard supporters think he’s the NDC’s best foot, others think he will be their nemesis. For the sake of probability, because God’s ways are not our ways and also because anything is possible, let us consider how former President Mahama could stage a comeback.

Political Sabbatical

Some strategists feel the best way for John Mahama to keep his foot in the game is by making frequent public statements, organizing events, keeping up appearances and keeping himself in the mix by making pronouncements or comments every now and again. While I can see how that will help, I think the opposite is true. President Mahama, as the former president, was pretty much everywhere for the past four years. He was in the media all the time. I’m sure if I conducted a content analysis of front page print media reportage, he will dominate. Yet, the people of Ghana (at least a majority of them) thought it was time to part ways. Mr Mahama should probably not disappear completely but should definitely, deliberately and drastically reduce public commentary and perhaps appearances. He should make us miss him small. Absence has a funny way of making the heart fonder no matter what. If he does this well enough, people might actually start genuinely missing him enough to make inquisitions. The benefits will be multiple: people will pay attention anytime he speaks, affection will be developed and he can use the opportunity to bounce back and make a major impact.

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Write a book

President Mahama is a good writer; absolutely no doubt about that. He can use the period of quietude to pen down some notes. This would be a great time to reflect, put down some thoughts on the just ended election and probably offer some ideologies/principles on the way forward. This will be beneficial on many fronts: not many Ghanaian politicians write and it will most definitely be a welcome addition whether you support him or not. Secondly it will be a book of interest considering that he was a central character. Thirdly, he could actually use that to fully address certain controversies without necessarily going through the “media cabal”. And of course, he could earn some cash from the book. There’s so much that one can do with this. Hillary Clinton has already penned down her book and it’s been performing strongly on the New York best seller list. Write, JM, write!

Policy statements

Good governance revolves around effective policies. Policy making lies at the heart of politics. In order to present himself as a serious player, Mr. Mahama can engage in public policy discourse by delivering major policy addresses. This immediately puts him within a certain class and helps to create an image of him as serious, sharp and substantive. Moreover, it would be a welcome contribution to the governance process—especially from hindsight.

Statesmanship

The former president has been doing quite well at this. He’s headed election observer missions to Kenya and Liberia and has delivered keynote speeches at certain major events at home and abroad. There should be more of these. The former president should frame himself as the astute former president of a thriving democracy with something to offer the world and nation. In these events, he should be honest, self-deprecating, humorous and witty. This would earn him some warmth in many hearts and create an open door. Heilmann and Halperin (2010) wrote something quite profound: “losing always tests a politician’s composure and grace”. Winning an election may be the test of competitiveness but what one does with the outcome is the true test of temperament. Let’s see how JDM handles this. All the best, Sir.

These are a few things JDM can do if he wants to stage a comeback. What do you think? Should he run again at all? What are his chances and what should he do if he decides to run. Please share your thoughts!