John Dramani Mahama is a Ghanaian politician who served as President of Ghana from 24 July 2012 to 7 January 2017.
He previously served as Vice President of Ghana from January 2009 to July 2012, and took office as president on 24 July 2012 following the death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills.
Mahama is a communication expert, historian, and writer. He was a Member of Parliament for Bole Bamboi from 1997 to 2009 and served as Minister of Communications from 1998 to 2001. He is a member of the NDC (National Democratic Congress).
Mahama is the first vice president to take over the presidency from the death of his predecessor, Prof. John Atta Mills, and is the first head of state of Ghana to have been born after Ghana’s independence. He was elected in the December 2012 election to serve as full-time president. He contested re-election for a second term in the 2016 election, but lost to the New Patriotic Party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, in 2012. This made him the first President in the Fourth Republic in the history of Ghana to not have won a second term.
In February 2019, Mahama was confirmed as the candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress to contest in the 2020 elections, the incumbent president Nana Akufo-Addo who unseated Mahama in a 2016 election, capitalizing on an economy that was slowing due to falling prices for gold, oil and cocoa exports.
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 on 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.
John Mahama 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, Mahama in 2003 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 his capacity as the vice president.
Mahama as president
In line with Ghana’s constitution, Mahama became President of Ghana on July 24, 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.
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 21 January 2016 on the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mahama became co-chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Advocates group which consists of 17 eminent persons assisting the UN Secretary-General in the campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world leaders unanimously adopted in September 2015. With a mandate to support the Secretary-General in his efforts to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030, the SDG Advocates have been working to promote the universal sustainable development agenda, to raise awareness of the integrated nature of the SDGs, and to foster the engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation of these Goals.
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 44.9% of the valid votes cast compared to Akufo-Addo’s 53.4%.
In December 2016, he was part of part of the ECOWAS mediation team to resolve the post-election political impasse in The Gambia between the defeated incumbent, Yahya Jammeh and declared winner, Adam Barrow.