It all started in 2013, as Ebola was spreading death and fear across West Africa, and countries in the region were feeling the pressure on their often under-appointed healthcare systems. Although Ghana never had a single confirmed case of Ebola, Ghanaians certainly felt the fear and acknowledged the risks, leading to a public outcry for investments in healthcare infrastructure. John Mahama, then President, promised to use a $175 million loan facility, comprising donations from HSBC BANK, Export Import Bank of United States and Ghanian taxpayer money, which had been secured in 2012 to build 7 new district hospitals.
But rather than keeping to his word in a time of crisis, he used a global pandemic to callously create opportunities for himself and his cronies. As we now know, at least $6 million was used to hire Cambridge Analytica and its mother company, SCL Group, to conduct a massive survey, gathering data for NDC’s own political purposes while also allowing Ghanaian’s data to be bought and sold for profit. In short: Mahama and the NDC took money from vulnerable Ghanaians and used it to further their own political goals as well as spread false and divisive information to the public, sowing discord among and between Ghanaians at a time when everyone needed and wanted unity.
With the 2020 elections less than seven months away, Mahama is now attempting to distance himself from these affairs and rewrite his history. Through weekly addresses touting his “experience of managing the Ebola-crisis” he is hoping the people of Ghana have forgotten that what he actually did during that crisis was to mismanage the country and misappropriate public funds. Swearing off the past, acting as if he were he a changed man, he is busy building a narrative to make it back into Jubilee House. As part of these efforts, he recently posted an article on his Facebook page from the American website Medium.com, written by a novelist named Steven Boykey Sidley. The article lauds Mahama and his efforts during the Ebola crisis and clearly presents him as a valid alternative to lead Ghana through the Corona-pandemic, citing his supposed previous experience. That a journalist interviews a political figure is not in itself odd, but what did strike me as peculiar was that an unknown journalist who had published nothing but book reviews on Medium.com for years would suddenly take a deeper interest in Ghanaian politics.
So I decided to find out.
After a short email exchange with the author of the article, Mr. Boykey Sidley, I learned that he had been prompted to write an article about Mahama by a man named Steven McCauley. So I reached out to Mr. McCauley, who tells me that he is an advisor to John Mahama, “a mere advisor sitting in the Shadows” as part of a “small team of other advisors” who help Mahama with campaign communication. Mr. McCauley tells me over the phone that he is the one who advised Mahama to host “speak-out sessions”, and then Mr. McCaukley adds, and I quote, “that was one of the things that I brought to SCL”.
If you think SCL sounds familiar, it’s because I mentioned it just a few paragraphs ago. SCL was the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, who Mahama used to further his political career and line his and his cronies’ pockets, at the expense of the Ghanaian people.
It is often said that he who does not learn from the past, is bound to repeat it, and it seems that John Mahama refuses to learn his lesson. He is once again aligning himself with those same types who helped him use and abuse the Ghanaian public, despite his very public assurances of trustworthiness and transparency. Much like many vanity projects which dot our country ever since Mahama’s term, these advisors, along with Mahama himself, chose to commission an article of praise rather than put in the hard work. That’s not leadership, that’s vanity, plain and simple.
As the Financial Times reported on July 11th, Ex-Cambridge Analytica staff have launched a new data analytics firm, using the exact same methods as before. According to FT, the new firm will provide political data consulting services in the Middle East and Africa and is said to have already landed a contract to work inside an African nation, the identity of which remains a secret. It is unknown whether Mr. McCauley works for this new outfit, but the underhanded tactics he employs seem to suggest a close affinity to the old Cambridge Analytica shenanigans.
One wonders if this is exactly what Mahama is doing, as well: re-launching in new packaging, while using the exact same methods, and advisors, as before?
By Vivian Lumor, Freelance Journalist – Daily Mail GH | The views expressed by the writer are solely his/her and do not represent the position of Daily Mail GH