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Judge my mum on merit

2008-08-07 21:01:15
This article has been read 711 times.

Abdella Alhassan, 26, NPP youth activist, law student and son of Hajia Alima Mahama, says his mother remains unfazed by the negative propaganda that has erupted since she was touted by sections of the media as most likely to complete the NPP Presidential ticket.

Rather, she continues to draw strength from the comments to better aspects of her persona whiles delivering confidently on the mandate President J A Kufuor has given her in his government.

"She is a strong woman who has worked very, very hard to get to where she is now. If Nana Akufo-Addo nominates her, with the blessings of the party, as his running mate, she would have gotten there on merit. But, we must also recognise that it would be a strong boost for many young women and girls with aspirations.”

The young man believes her mother's story represents the kind of confidence Nana Akufo-Addo wants Ghanaians to have by believing in themselves. It is a story of how a girl from a very traditional, Muslim background can work hard to realise her God-given talents.

"It has not been easy. But, she is a fighter and I'm glad she is my mother. She is my greatest inspiration, always challenging me to go the extra mile to achieve my goals," he told The Statesman in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Mr Alhassan sees his mother as having the necessary qualifications for the job. "She is a true blue NPP child. My grandfather was the first MP for Nalerigu, under the Northern People’s Party, moving after the merger to represent the United Party, led by Dr Busia. She has the academic background; has for years done actual grassroots work with the people in fighting poverty and negative prejudices that affect development. It would be ironic if today she becomes a victim of that same stereotype she has devoted her life to fighting," he said.

He told The Statesman that while he understood that many people are afraid of change, opponents of Hajia Alima’s candidature should give her a fair hearing based on what she has achieved in her long journey which began in Walewale 51 years ago to the holder of a double Masters degree, several Post Graduate Studies and Fellowships, a Barrister at Law and a member of the almost eight year old Kufuor administration.

Mr Alhassan, who turns 27 in September, has just completed his LLB at the University of Ghana and is set to enter the Ghana Law School in October, following in his mother’s foot steps. His mother was called to the Bar in 1982.

The articulate young man cautions his party and those hoping to be nominated and their supporters against seeing the choice of a running mate as "a contest to be won by all means. It is not a race. It is not by election but by nomination. I believe the lobbying has been sometimes too intense. However, we should forever remain mindful of the ultimate need to preserve the integrity and cohesion of the party. The whole country is watching."

He continued, "This is a woman who although failed in her bid to win the Nalerigu seat in a predominantly NDC area in the 2000 elections, bounced back in 2004 to capture the seat for NPP. In fact, she even got more votes than the Presidential candidate in 2004."

Our investigations have revealed that she was first approached to run for the seat by Candidate Kufuor in 1996, but then she did not feel ready enough to take up the challenge.

She decided then to concentrate on her many charity work, including being Director of Maalizaali, an NGO focusing on capacity building of local government institutions and partners, gender analysis, planning and training as well as Women Human Rights education for work-based ladies associations in the three northern regions.

There has been intense speculation and lobbying in the choice of running mate for the NPP Presidential Candidate, with several names being mentioned. However, investigations conducted by this paper indicate she is the preferred choice of Nana Akufo-Addo. This has turned out to be a mixed blessing, according to Mr Alhassan.

"I know a lot of people are actively vying and/or supporting many candidates, so if the media stick you out as the most likely, you are open to all sorts of attack," he mused.

He however pointed out, "This means whoever is chosen will not be everybody’s first choice. I think the party should not put undue pressure on the Candidate or the NEC [National Executive Committee] to choose a particular person to partner him, since he has shown over the years that he is, first and foremost a party man, and also more than capable of making the right, visionary decisions."

Citing the party’s constitution, he warned the NPP to exercise a lot of caution in the selection of the man or woman likely to be Ghana’s next Vice President. "It is important that the party approaches the running mate issue not with prejudice, but with an eye on the elections and thereafter. Perhaps it may be helpful to get a scientific analysis on whether Ghana is ready for a woman leader, and whether Hajia Alima complements or takes something away from the ticket. Regardless, whoever is chosen, in the interest of internal cohesion and party unity, the entire party should join forces behind him or her," the young party man advised.

On fears that the eventual choice by Nana Akufo-Addo and NEC may affect party unity four months to the general elections, Mr Alhassan had this to say: "Our flagbearer has been the archetypal symbol of the sort of unity that the party needs, and it will be a shame to allow this process, however important, to undo all the work that has been done. But I am confident that unity will prevail."

Responding to the oft-cited issue of Hajia Alima’s divorced state and the response of predominantly Muslim northern Ghana to a woman Veep, he pointed out that on average the Northern Region has more female Members of Parliament than any other. Three of the NPP’s 20 female MPs represent the Northern Region alone.

As well, "I have an excellent relationship with both my mum and my dad. I have a caring mother, and I believe this is an opportunity for her to serve at the highest level as an inspiration to millions of Ghanaians, especially women and children but particularly Muslim women, that hard work, discipline and perseverance do pay off.

"If we seek to transform Ghana and take her to her rightful place in the comity of nations, which is the vision of our flagbearer [Nana Akufo-Addo], then we need to expand our capacity to think big and act big outside the box. We shouldn’t miss this opportunity."

He evinced no surprise at the leaked memo of B J da Rocha, founding Chairman of the NPP, which strongly counselled against selecting the Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs. Mr Alhassan disclosed that Mr da Rocha had already expressed his views on the matter when Hajia Alima, accompanied by her son, had sought his views and blessing on her decision to put herself forward.

Since Wednesday July 30, 2008, when this paper reported that Hajia Alima was in pole position for NPP Running Mate, this paper has come under a lot of attack, with some party officials denouncing what they misunderstood to be a declaration of Nana Akufo-Addo’s intent.


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