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John Mahama turns 62

By Mutala Yakubu
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Former President John Dramani Mahama turns 62 today, Sunday, November 29, 2020.

John Mahama was born on November 29th, 1958 in Damango, capital of West Gonja District, to an affluent teacher, rice farmer and politician. His father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, was the first member of Parliament for West Gonja and the first Regional Minister of Northern Region, serving under Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah.

READ ALSO: Level of corruption in Akufo-Addo's govt doesn't shock Ghanaians anymore - Mahama

Mahama was born into a politically active family. His father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, served as a member of Parliament as well as a regional commissioner in the government of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. John Mahama attended primary school at the Achimota School in Accra and attended the Ghana Secondary School in Tamale. He received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1981 from the University of Ghana, Legon, where he also completed postgraduate studies in communication in 1986. Mahama taught high-school history for a few years before pursuing a postgraduate degree in social psychology from the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow, which was awarded in 1988.

After Mahama returned to Ghana, he worked in Accra as the Information, Culture, and Research Officer at the embassy of Japan until 1995. He then worked at the Ghana office of Plan International, a humanitarian and development organization, as the international relations, sponsorship, communication, and grants manager.

As Member of Parliament

Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in the 1996 elections to represent the Bole/Bamboi Constituency for a four-year term. In April 1997, Mahama was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications. He was promoted to the post of Minister of Communications in November 1998, serving in that post until January 2001, when the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) handed over power to the New Patriotic Party's government.

In 2000, Mahama was re-elected for another four-year term as the Member of Parliament for the Bole/Bamboi Constituency. He was again re-elected in 2004 for a third term. From 2001 to 2004, Mahama served as the Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications. In 2002, he was appointed the Director of Communications for the NDC. That same year, he served as a member of the team of International Observers selected to monitor Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Elections. As an MP, he was a member of Standing Orders Committee as well as the Transport, Industry, Energy, Communications, Science and Technology Committee of Parliament.

As Minister and Vice-President

Mahama served as the Deputy Minister of Communications between April 1997 and November 1998. During his tenure as Minister of Communications, Mahama also served as the Chairman of the National Communications Authority, in which capacity he played a key role in stabilising Ghana's telecommunications sector after it was deregulated in 1997. As a minister, he was a founding member of the Ghana AIDS Commission, a member of the implementation committee of the 2000 National Population Census and a deputy chairman of the Publicity Committee for the re-introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

Continuing to expand his interest and involvement in international affairs, in 2003 Mahama became a member of the Pan-African Parliament, serving as the Chairperson of the West African Caucus until 2011. He was also a member of European and Pan African Parliaments' Ad hoc Committee on Cooperation. In 2005 he was, additionally, appointed the Minority Spokesman for Foreign Affairs. He is a member of the UNDP Advisory Committee on Conflict Resolution in Ghana.

On 7 January 2009, Mahama became the Vice-President of Ghana after John Evan Atta Mills won the 2008 Ghana general Elections. He also served as the Chairman of the National Economic Management Team, the Armed Forces Council of Ghana, the Decentralisation and Implementation Committee and the Police Council of Ghana in this capacity.

As President

In line with Ghana's constitution, Mahama became President of Ghana on 24 July 2012 on the death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills. In July 2012, he became the Ghana's first president to have served at all levels of political office (Ghanaian and Pan-African MP, Deputy Minister, Minister, Vice-President and President). He said in parliament upon being sworn in:

This is the saddest day in our nation's history. Tears have engulfed our nation and we are deeply saddened and distraught and I'm personally devastated, I've lost a father, I've lost a friend, I've lost a mentor and a senior comrade. Ghana is united in grief at this time for our departed president

As a result of his elevation to the presidency, Mahama made political history by becoming the first Ghanaian head of state to have been born after Ghana's declaration of independence on 6 March 1957 . The National Democratic Congress (NDC) held a Special National Delegates Congress on 30 August 2012 and endorsed President John Dramani Mahama as its 2012 presidential candidate. President Mahama, the sole candidate of the party, polled 2, 767 votes, representing 99.5% of total votes cast, to pick the slot for the party. Mahama has stated that his administration is deeply committed to continuing the Better Ghana Agenda started under President Mills.

Mahama won the December 2012 general election with 50.70% of the total valid votes cast and a 3% winning margin beating his nearest rival, Nana Akufo-Addo of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, who polled a close 47.74%. This was just barely enough to win the presidency without the need for a runoff. In addition, Mahama won the majority of valid votes cast in eight out of Ghana's ten administrative regions. Thirteen African Heads of State, one Prime Minister, two Vice-Presidents and 18 government delegations across the world attended his inaugural ceremony at the Black Star Square in Accra on 7 January 2013, when Mahama was sworn-in to begin his own four-year term.

After his investiture, the opposition New Patriotic Party led by its 2012 presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the party chairman Jacob Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, challenged the election results, alleging irregularities, malpractices, omissions and violations. The petition was heard by nine justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana. After eight months of hearing, the Court on 29 August 2013 dismissed the petition by a majority opinion.

Mahama is one of Africa's most-followed leaders on the social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook.In May 2013, he stated that all of West Africa is under the threat of Islamist militancy.

On 30 March 2014, he was elected to preside over ECOWAS.On 26 June 2014, he was elected Chairperson of the African Union's (AU's) High-Level African Trade Committee (HATC).

On 9 December 2016, Mahama was defeated by the main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, to whom he conceded defeat earlier that day. Mahama polled 44.4% of the valid votes cast compared to Akufo-Addo's 53.5%.

Mahama has been re-elected flagbearer of the NDC and will be going head to head with Akufo-Addo on December 7, 2020.