John Dramani Mahama, the newly minted head of State of Ghana, faces an unusual danger.
The most strident critics of his government are busily and desperately trying to set an agenda for him. If he accepts that agenda, he would be seen to be distancing himself from his former boss President John Evans Atta Mills and if he ignores the critics the impression may be created that he is not his own man and is simply towing the line.
The sophistication of the critics now turned advisers cannot be overlooked. They are conscious of the fact that Professor Mills has been transformed into a ‘Saint’ by his death and that President Mahama could very easily ride on his achievements to victory in the December elections.
Indeed one of the surest ways of ensuring a victory of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is to delink President Mahama from the achievements of Professor Mills and the public sympathy which flows from them.
If President Mahama can be stampeded into taking actions or making statements which feed the impression that he is distancing himself from Professor Mills, then half the job of the opposition would have been done.
It is not by accident that leading advocates of the NPP are calling on President Mahama to get rid of some of the most ardent loyalists of his former boss.
They have also suggested President Mahama should virtually condemn the communication strategy of the NDC by creating the false impression that it has been aggressive and even indecent.
Amongst those listed by sympathizers of the NPP for dismissal by President Mahama are Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Information, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, Minister of Finance, Mr. Martey Newman, Chief of Staff, Mr. B. Mensah, Secretary to the President, Dr. Benjamin Kumbour, Attorney General and his deputy, Mr. Barton Oduro.
The point is that if President Mahama was to make this glaring error, it would immediately send out a signal that he is fighting the loyalists of Professor Mills and undermine his own commitment to continuing what his former boss started.
This would make it easy for the NPP to demonstrate that President Mahama is substantially different from Professor Mills and create the conditions for diverting the sympathy for the former President away from him.
These NPP sympathizers have also been very loud in suggesting that President Mahama should take up residence at the Flagstaff house immediately.
Why? If President Mahama were to accept this suggestion, he would again be sending out a clear signal that his boss was wrong in not occupying the Flagstaff House.
The Mills’ administration had stated clearly that the former President had not moved into residence at the Flagstaff House because of security considerations.
The question is, if President Mahama moved into the Flagstaff House, would that mean that those security considerations were not real? In any case why the rush to occupy the Flagstaff House?
What the NPP sympathizers are hoping to do is to create a false sense of public opinion insisting on changes in the way Professor Mills handled his responsibilities to the state and thereby creating the conditions for blaming President Mahama for ignoring public opinion.
President Mahama has his appointment with destiny and he alone can make or unmake his own history.
Whatever he decides to do, he must understand that he is in the shadow of ‘Saint Mills’.