I read the Catalyst newspaper’s editorial captioned “Akufo-Addo’s Character Chokes NPP” (See Ghanaweb.com 7/22/11) and could not help falling off the edge of my seat. For not only does it read like the tentative editorial of a junior high school newspaper, but even more pathetically, it is absolutely certain that the editorial writer could never qualify to take a College Composition course in the suburban community college where I teach at Garden City, New York, without a heavy dosage of remediation over at least two semesters or a year. We shall get to this aspect of the aforesaid editorial in due course; but for now, we need to focus squarely on the salient “factoids” of the editorial parading as major concerns of the Catalyst’s editors, reporters and publishers and, of course, their “Indemnity Clause”-protected paymasters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
According to the Catalyst’s character-smearing editorial, unlike President John Evans Atta-Mills who “politically appears to have an unblemished character,” Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a presidential candidate whose character and integrity leave much to be desired. The key phrase here, of course, is the fact of President Mills’ character “appearing to be unblemished.” In other words, what the editorial writer of the Catalyst is saying is that there is no provable evidence to indicate that, indeed, President Mills actually has an unblemished character, except in terms of appearances. And on the latter score, it cannot be gainsaid that Ghanaians are all-too-discerning to be facilely and readily bamboozled by mere appearances. After all, were it not the same people who ages ago insightfully observed the fact that: “Beauty does not pay; rather, it is character that becomes the man” or woman, for that matter?
But whether, indeed, President Mills is an “unblemished” man of unbested integrity in Fourth-Republican Ghanaian political culture or not, was eloquently put paid to in the lead-up to the Sunyani delegates’ convention of the National Democratic Congress by the woman whose husband handpicked the former Legon tax-law professor and staunchly stood by the latter through three electoral seasons during the course of eight protracted years. Needless to say, for most politically savvy Ghanaians, apart from his own wife, perhaps, no other Ghanaian woman is more authoritatively knowledgeable about the character of the now-President John Evans Atta-Mills than the longest-serving first lady. And this is what Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings has recently had to say about the gubernatorial skills and integrity of her husband’s longtime and former protégé: “I am running for the presidential nomination of the National Democratic Congress for Election 2012, because President Mills and Vice-President Mahama have run the most corrupt and incompetent government in the history of our country.”
Mrs. Rawlings would proceed to list the STX scandal, in which Messrs. Atta-Mills and Dramani Mahama attempted to mortgage a projected 10-year oil revenue accruable to Ghana to a nondescript South Korean housing construction firm, among a slew of others.
The Catalyst’s editors also quote Mr. Kwame Pianim, a leading member of the New Patriotic Party, evidently in a laughable bid to mordantly damaging the hard-earned reputation of the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice under the Kufuor administration as follows: “It would be remembered that an NPP guru, Mr. Kwame Mpianim [sic], in the recent past[,] vouched for the integrity of President Mills, saying [that] he would any day put his hand in the fire for him as proof of his character that his integrity and incorruptibility is [sic] second to none.”
The first problem that any levelheaded Ghanaian citizen is apt to have with the foregoing quote regards the credibility of its original author. In sum, not many serious and/or reputable Ghanaians take Mr. Kwame Pianim any more seriously in terms of his voluble public political pronouncements than, say, the rambunctious Mr. Kofi Wayo and the post-Sunyani Mr. Rawlings, the man widely believed to have made President Mills what the latter is today, even as I write (7/23/11).
Needless to say, Mr. Pianim is a criminal convict who once had the death penalty hanging over his head, and has been summarily and effectively disqualified from taking a shot at the presidency. Besides, at the time that he cavalierly presumed to impugn the integrity of Nana Akufo-Addo, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board (COCOBOD) was a staunch backer of a quite formidable rival of the former Foreign Minister for the NPP flagbearership. In brief, Mr. Pianim did not criticize Nana Akufo-Addo purely out of the proverbial goodness of his heart or even that of the country but, rather, as an epic presidential failure with an axe to grind. Unfortunately, in presuming to impugn the credibility and integrity of the former Member of Parliament for Akyem-Abuakwa South, Mr. Pianim had shamelessly and gratuitously picked on the wrong target.
Ghanaians ought not to also forget that, indeed, it was the then-Vice-President Mills who scandalously spearheaded the JULIET COTTON EPISODE in which a whopping $20million (Twenty-Million American Dollars) was literally gifted – handed over gratis – to an African-American “Welfare Queen” and certified con-artist for the purported cultivation of a non-existent rice plantation in the Volta Region. And today, as substantive premier of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, Tarkwa-Atta has promised to build a full-fledged specialist university for the Volta Region in seven months which is due to open for business on September 1, if we are to take his word for it. Really, does the preceding sound like the promise of a man of integrity?
And then among the executive ranks of his own party, we have Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah who has made a passionate and perennial avocation of constantly reminding Ghanaians that President Mills is damaged goods, as well as an incurably inept administrator running a ramshackle government composed of a “Team-C” caliber of cabinet appointees.
That the editors of the Catalyst and their NDC paymasters have absolutely no laudable sense of what it means to manage a viable democratic culture, is strikingly exemplified by the following quote: “The NPP stood firmly behind one of its communicators in Kumasi, Adu Gyamfi,[sic] who insulted President Mills by describing him as a chimpanzee on Foxx-Fm[,] a private radio station. The whole hierarchy of the party was up in arms against the police when this man who [had] insulted the President was arrested[,] before President Mills subsequently ordered his release.”
Have any of the editors of the Catalyst ever heard of anything called “protected Free Speech” in a salutary democratic political culture? Obviously not; thus in the eyes of the Catalyst’s editors, President Mills is a generous Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) who ought to be rapturously lauded for merely reacting, albeit rather belatedly, to the all-too-pedestrian tenets of democratic culture.
Indeed, the foregoing also quaintly recalls an incident during the 1960s, in which the police was, reportedly, called in to arrest a disgruntled ordinary Ghanaian citizen who had been seen and heard cursing at a portrait of President Nkrumah in a village square.
Anyway, my riposte to the editors of the Catalyst is as follows: What did Messrs. Atta-Mills and Dramani Mahama say or do, by way of a response, when Mr. Rawlings called Nana Akufo-Addo a dwarf? Likewise, what did these same gentlemen do or say, when Dr. Hannah Bissiw called the NPP presidential candidate “a sexy, old fool”? How about when Mr. Kobby Acheampong called Akan cocoa farmers an unenlightened horde of bush rats? Which men, or even women, of integrity in the NDC stood up against this troglodytic discourse of Akatamansoans? And you thought these Catalyst charlatans would see good reason to both shut up and put up!
Here is another interesting gripe from the Catalyst editors: “Apart from allegations of drug use, others have also described [Nana Akufo-Addo] as too arrogant and hot-headed for Ghana to be entrusted into his hands as President.” Ouch, I never thought Rawlings-The-Killer-Of-Judges was the epitome of presidential humility in Ghana!
And finally, this farcical quote from the errand boys of Messrs. Atta-Mills and Dramani Mahama: “In a Chronicle report of Friday December 7, 2007, the paper said ‘Mr. Michael Ampong, campaign coordinator for Mr. Alan Kyerematen[,] says Ghana will be plunged into chaos should the New Patriotic Party (NPP) delegates consider Nana Addo Danquah[sic] Akufo-Addo for the flagbearership slot of the party and eventually elected president. According to him, the former Foreign Minister is [too?] arrogant, temperamental and hot-headed for the number one job of the land, the Presidency and therefore it will [sic] be suicidal for the NPP to parade him as its presidential candidate.”
Obviously, the NPP delegates knew far better than both Mr. Coomson and the editors of the Catalyst. And so nearly three years and one dubiously lost election later, Nana Akufo-Addo is still the flagbearer of an even more invigorated New Patriotic Party. What is more, ironically, and to the blistering shame and discredit of the publishers and editors of the Catalyst and their NDC paymasters, today both Messrs. Ampong and Kyerematen are bona fide team members and key operatives of the Akufo-Addo for 2012 presidential campaign.
Then again, what does one expect from the editors of a newspaper who would rather engage in the character assassination of their political opponents than the “bread and barter” questions of competence and common sense? By the way, what is “a veil[sic] threat”?
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005).