The illicit drugs uproar in which Nana Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate for Election 2012, is presently embroiled would have disappeared over time but for the incalculable damage that Mr. Akufo-Addo’s legal team has done to the presidential ambitions of the one-time Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in the John Kufuor-led administration, when the aforementioned team of lawyers threatened legal action against the Daily Post newspaper for publishing quite recently that Nana Akufo-Addo was once arrested at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for carrying cannabis, a substance that is banned in many countries around the world.
Suddenly, the local airwaves, print media and Internet conduits have been inundated with calls, ripostes and comments about the drugs saga, a veritable distraction for Nana Akufo-Addo who is currently touring the regions to find out from ordinary Ghanaians what his administration, were he to be fortunate enough to be elected president, could do to ameliorate their living conditions. What is rather interesting about this issue is the fact that the Daily Post has now gone on the offensive, ridiculing, in the process, Nana Akufo-Addo’s legal team for what seems an attempt by the latter to backtrack on the initial threat to sue this particular newspaper.
It should be obvious to all and sundry that the laws of the United States of America are almost always religiously enforced, so for Nana Akufo-Addo to have carried cannabis into New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, as alleged by the Daily Post, would certainly have led to the arrest of the New Patriotic Party’s presidential hopeful. For anyone conversant with U.S. jurisprudence – whether at the local, state or federal level – it is almost impossible to get away with unlawful activity, no matter who the offender is, so it is quite laughable to convince this writer that Akufo-Addo was, indeed, arrested for attempting to carry cannabis into New York City. If the Daily Post still maintains that its stance on the matter is right, then its editor should show proof, without the intervention of a court of law, of the so-called arrest of Nana Akufo-Addo at John F. Kennedy International Airport six years ago!
Nana Akufo-Addo’s legal team should not now rescind its threat to sue the Daily Post, because doing so would simply arm Akufo-Addo’s detractors who are determined to keep the drugs issue in the news long enough so independents intending to vote for Nana Akufo-Addo next year may change course. A law degree alone is not enough to make one a successful lawyer: a dose of wisdom is also essential for making the right decisions – such as letting go of a matter completely, seeking a plea bargain for a client, or taking one’s chances in a court of law and hoping that one’s client would be exonerated. For all intents and purposes, this incident ought to teach Nana Akufo-Addo’s lawyers not to issue any future threats that they do not intend to support with action.
Conversely, Nana Akufo-Addo should not placate anyone by volunteering for a drugs test. Such a move would be seen as cowardly – or, perhaps, a late effort to woo certain ambivalent voters. For those calling on the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate for Election 2012 to subject himself to a drugs test, they need to know that, were Nana Akufo-Addo an abuser of illicit drugs, which I believe he is not, a urinalysis or blood test is unlikely to produce anything significant, as narcotics do not remain in the bloodstream forever. It is for this reason that most managers who subject their employees to such tests do so in a seemingly underhanded manner, selecting an employee and giving him or her no more than two days to take the tests, a sort of ultimatum that could lead to the employee’s dismissal if the employer’s conditions were willfully violated.
Nana Akufo-Addo’s public relations team is the one that needs to be busy right now defending the presidential hopeful, by going on the offensive and debunking the claims of the enemies of the New Patriotic Party. If Ghanaians want their presidential candidates to take a drugs test as a requirement for the top job, then the rules must apply to all who will emerge as their parties’ candidates, and not to just one particular person. In fact, the continued call for Nana Akufo-Addo to take a drugs test is silly, offensive and ludicrous, as should be obvious to everyone by now, more so because this writer had explained earlier why such an exercise will be futile, unless the request was enforceable in some form or fashion.
What Akufo-Addo needs to worry about, ultimately, is not that he uses illicit drugs – an absolutely senseless allegation! – but that his ideology of governance is adorned in the habiliments of elitism, a charge that his opponents are likely to employ against him, once again, in the next presidential election. In fact, Nana Akufo-Addo’s familiarization tour of the regions is a step in the right direction, as voters need to know that the person they are about to vote for is willing to get down into the trenches with them, proverbially speaking.
Any individual who declares himself or herself a candidate for the presidency of Ghana is fair game for political analysts, connoisseurs, commentators, critics and voters, which means that Nana Akufo-Addo cannot escape his own baptism of fire. What each presidential candidate ought to do, as an alternative, is reveal enough information about himself to the public, in order to fend off adversaries. Contemporaneously, each candidate must continue to embrace the difficulties faced by ordinary Ghanaians, while hoping that his efforts will send him to the Flagstaff House in January 2013, after the votes are eventually counted by Dr. Afari-Gyan and his legion of electoral officers!
Akufo-Addo has said, more than once, that he does not take illicit drugs. What else does the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate for Election 2012 need to do or say before we are willing to leave him alone so he can focus on the real problems facing the masses?
The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, is pursuing a doctoral degree in Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the same university. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.