News / Africa

Ghana President Mahama Seeks to Improve Citizens' Lives

Peter Clottey
Ghana’s newly installed president, John Dramani Mahama, says his vision for the country is to improve the lives of citizens and to create an environment that ensures a constitutionally-stable democratic nation.

“Ghanaians want a stable, democratic country constitutionally governed under the rule of law, but at the same time we want to create a country where our people can live in decency and dignity - a country where our mothers are not dying in the process of giving birth, our country where our children are not dying prematurely from malaria, a country where young people can grow up in a moral environment and be proud that they are Ghanaian,” President Mahama said in an exclusive interview with VOA. 

But the opposition New Patriotic Party has accused Mahama and the ruling National Democratic Congress of being incapable of resolving what the party describes as the poor state of the country’s economy. At a news conference Tuesday, the opposition party said the newly installed president is to blame for what it said are the economic hardships Ghanaians are currently undergoing.

But, in the exclusive, President Mahama acknowledges the challenges he faces in trying to unite the country following the death of the late president, John Evans Atta-Mills, and as the country prepares for the December general elections.

“There’s still work to do especially to insure that the business of government continues to run smoothly even as we engage in competitive politics … is a challenge that one has to acknowledge,” said Mahama. “I think that the institutions of state are quite ready to be able to carry out the business and I think in death Professor Atta-Mills has brought a certain opportunity to run the country together let us understand that we have one nation with a common destiny and that even in the political arena there is space enough to be competitive but do it in a way that doesn’t tarnish our reputation.” 

Mahama said he was fortunate to have understudied the late President Atta-Mills, who he said, outlined a vision of making Ghana a better place.

“My luck is that I served as vice president to a president who had outlined a vision of making Ghana a better place and I owe it to his memory to continue the achievement of that vision. I think what it’s taught me is that in attaining a better Ghana it must be a vision the whole country shares,” he said.

Mahama was sworn as president hours after the country’s leader was pronounced dead at the 37 Military Hospital in the capital, Accra, on July 24.  He will finish out the five remaining months of the late leader’s term.

Analysts say the government's adherence to constitutional protocols in the hours following Atta-Mills’ passing has won the nation praise, both at home and abroad, and bodes well for the December elections.

Mahama talked about events leading up to his swearing in following the death of  Atta-Mills.

“The attorney general came and they called the speaker of parliament and they took the constitution and the attorney general gave an interpretation of the constitution and determined that my swearing in would take place that day,” Mahama said.

“The speaker had to go back to her office and summon parliament, which had adjourned at that time and so she re-summoned parliament for six o’clock that evening,” he said. “I would’ve wished we could’ve waited because I was worried how I was going to compose myself to go through the swearing in ceremony. But God strengthened me and somehow we went through the process, but I must say even in that tragic circumstance what happened that day has raised the image of Ghana in the eyes of the world.”

Mahama said the transfer of power was smooth thanks to Ghana's solid constitution and mature democracy.  He said after a long period of instability and coup d’états, the 1992 constitution enabled five successful elections in his country and made it impossible to roll back democracy.

“Our 1992 constitution was written in a very consensual way by people from all walks of life in our country and they must have anticipated a lot of things,” he said. “And so it’s a very good constitution, very well written. It is clear and where we have uncertainties about parts of it, the Supreme Court determines and we all abide by it. 

“But I think its Ghana’s collective experience, along its historical road for the last 54 years that has brought us to this point where we have such a stable democratic process," he said.

Mahama added that in Ghana today, and in much of Africa, there are strong civil society organizations, religious and traditional groups and leaders, as well as pressure groups, that all have a vision of how they want to live. 

He said the age of the authoritarian head of state on the continent is past, noting that 24 African nations held elections in the past year and a half. This was not the case in the 1970s, he said, when there were no elections because most African states were military dictatorships. 

Mahama will run for president in the December elections.  He says the competition will be strong, not because Ghanaians have different visions for their future, but because they have different ideas about how to achieve the same goal.

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs