Before 2013, if there was any first lady in the history of Ghana who could have been said to have wielded so much power and influence in governance of Ghana, that person should arguably be Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.
A wife of charismatic but dreaded President Jerry John Rawlings, even with her husband’s autocratic posture, Nana Konadu’s power and influence were hardly undermined. Especially riding on the back of Rawling’s popularity and 31st December Movement, Nana Konadu became a common name of many households and establishments of State.
One may not be able to specifically determine the full extent to which Konadu Rawlings must have influenced government appointments, contracts and policies. But it definitely is the case that she lived a fulfilled life in the power to control and influence political decisions of her husband during the period Rawlings was sitting President of the republic between 1981 and 2001. However, during this period when she was overwhelmingly exposed to the largesse of the State, little would she have recognized that unmeasured use of too much power gets you addicted. And that when you allow yourself to get addicted to such power, you would eventually get to lose yourself anytime you no longer have the grips of it.
The reason for which Mrs. Rawlings, instead of enjoying her retirement in the comfort of her husband, rather looks frustrated is primarily because she had apparently abused the enjoyment of political power to the extent that she almost may have thought she would have had in her bosom the political power forever. So when the tenure of her husband finally ended in 2001, she amazingly saw a mirage in the image of apparition chasing her in her day dreams as if the lack of power reality that had dawned on her was fictitious. Neither her political party (NDC), a party founded by her husband, could contain her nor could any institutional structure. Without she and her husband in grips of political authority, nothing ever appear to be working well in Ghana again, to her flattered mind.
To this day, I suspect, Mrs. Rawlings would have wished she had treaded cautiously when she and her husband ruled the country for more than one and half decades. The manner in which two succeeding first ladies postured themselves with political power was largely perceived to be clothed with humility. Thus, Mrs. Theresa Kufuor (President Kufuor’s Wife) and Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills (President Evans Atta Mills’ Wife) respectively succeeded Mrs. Rawlings as First Ladies of the republic in 2001 and 2009 but theirs is a story of fulfillment and let-go. Because they may have handled political power and influence with measured steps and expectations when their husbands were Presidents, they simply have been able to live quiet and uninterrupted lives after the departure of their husbands from the Presidency. The crowing of the cock is said to be a harbinger to the dawn.
The interesting precedence that has been set by previous First Ladies should therefore be a license to the more reason why Mrs. Lordina Dramani Mahama, current First Lady of Ghana, must wake up to the call of treading very cautiously with political power while her husband H.E President John Dramani Mahama is still president of Ghana until 2016 or 2021. If the news making rounds in respect of Mrs. Lordina’s use of political power and influence were to be thought of, a few triggers other than worries would emerge in the reasoning processes.
Can the seemingly ludicrous insinuations, for example, by Nana Akuffo Addo that Mrs. Lordina lords over government’s contracts be borne out of factual grounds? Is Lordina Mahama in charge of ministerial and deputy ministerial appointments? Is Lordina Mahama in charge of appointment of board members and chief executives of state institutions?
Is Mrs. Lordina in charge of distribution of projects, resources and opportunities to individuals, groups, regions and communities? Is Lordina Mahama managing the country from behind the scenes other than President John Mahama? How powerful really is Mrs. Lordina in influencing political decisions in Ghana? Is she using the name of the President to amass wealth?
Is the perception that Mrs. Lordina is the real President ill-perceived or overhyped or intentionally distorted or calculated attempts to get at President Mahama through his wife? Is Mrs. Mahama’s prominence in international scene and her support for the needy with the help of OAFLA and Lordina Foundation as well as her husband’s travels and popularity a fundamental reason behind the perception of how much governmental power she actually wields?
Undoubtedly, a good wife should be a strong pillar behind every successful home. It is hard to therefore think, for a minute, that any righteous President including President Mahama would not allow his wife including Nana Lordina to have a say in his government. At least, opinion or advice of the wife would always be sought by the husband on decisions that affect lives. Also, in order to support the husband well in his political endeavor, the wife may have been given a political clout so that she would have some command to be respected in her dealings with the public. It, however, gets awry when it tends to appear that the role of the president is usurped by the wife who should only be adviser and supporter.
To my mind, even though it is difficult to see smoke without a trace of spark of fire, the allegations being raised against Her Excellency Lordina Mahama may just be far too fetched. She may simply be playing her supportive role as wife of President of a republic where expectations and demands are too overwhelming on anyone that holds public office especially those deemed to be closer to the President or Presidency.
Whatever the situation may be, Mrs. Lordina Mahama must be reminded that political power comes and goes. She must handle the opportunities she has now with utmost care, humility and prudence, knowing that she would be better placed to become a fulfilled former first lady in future only if she does not overplay the power and influence her husband has been given by the good people of Ghana.
Source: Adam Abukari
International Legal Specialist