Former President John Dramani Mahama has responded to criticisms that he surrounded himself with young appointees who caused his defeat in the presidential elections of 2016.
At a recent meeting with appointees who served in his government, the former President said people who were criticising him on that score did not probably like his appointees, because the appointees could not possibly be said to be young people.
“Some say young people surrounded the President, I mean, just say that I don’t like the people, don’t say they are young, because all those people you are referring to are above 40 years. How you can refer to a 40 year old man, with a wife and children, a young man, I don’t understand,” he asked.
President Mahama’s critics in assessing why the NDC lost the elections have mentioned people like Messrs Stan Xoese Dogbe, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, Felix Kwakye Ofosu and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa as some of the young and inexperienced people who surrounded Mr Mahama.
Former National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr Kwabena Adjei for instance has gone on record to say “John Mahama surrounded himself with inexperienced people.”
”Relatively inexperienced people were around the President. I will say it and say it again. I haven’t mentioned babies with sharp teeth or blunt teeth,” he said on a radio interview on Starr FM.
To Dr Adjei, one of the principal reasons that cost Mahama the 2016 elections was the fact that he surrounded himself with the “inexperienced.”
“His [Mahama] handlers misled him. They were inexperienced. I will say this anywhere without fear or favour. We are all to blame,” Dr Adjei said and added that the younger handlers of Mahama prevented the older ones with “a wealth of experience” from getting closer to the President hence his miserable defeat.
“I’ve a wealth of experience. The young ones failed to tap into our experience… the NDC has run into a ditch and we have to do our best to resurrect that party. Right now who becomes an executive member is out of place,” Dr. Adjei advised party members.
But responding to the criticism at the meeting with the appointees, Mr Mahama said: “Some say young people surrounded so, so and so, I mean, just say that I don’t like the people, not that they are young, because all those people you are referring to are above 40 years.”
“How you can call a 40-year-old man with a wife and children, a young man surrounding the president, I cannot understand. When I became a deputy minister to my brother Ekow Spio Garbrah, I was 39-years-old, yes we were young, but we served and served properly. I’m sure Spio was in his 40s at the time, you can’t say he was a small boy.”
“In the revolutionary period all those who surrounded President Rawlings were in their 20s and 30s, I’m sure if you take how many years since the revolution, from Uncle Ato’s (Ahwoi) age or Uncle Kwamena’s (Ahwoi) age, they might have been in their 30s or so, so it is not about age.”
Former President Mahama said the NDC party has always given opportunity to young people and “that was what we are, and so if we lose we cannot blame young people for our loss.”
“And the point is that the demography of Ghana is shifting in favour of young people, 35 and below (are) 60 per cent of our population. And so if you want to appoint appointees, where are you going to get them from, and you need those young people to gain experience from what you consider the older and experienced people.
“And so I think we should stop chasing the wind, this is the time to stand together. Happily the functional executives have recommended a NEC meeting in a few weeks and I’m sure some of these same issues will come up and we will get a calendar for reorganisation even as we wait for the report of the Kwesi Botchwey committee.”
The meeting with the appointees was held on March 28, 2017. Watch a video of the meeting below