REJOINDER: Will the NPP’s Akufo-Addo Ever Learn Any Lesson? – By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
I have read the rejoinder to an article I wrote to criticize the NPP’s Akufo-Addo for failing to abide by his own prohibition against promise-making as the basis for wooing voters. In responding to my viewpoints, Herbert Krapa, Press Secretary to Akufo-Addo, went to a great length to suggest that I criticized Akufo-Addo out of mischief and ignorance. More intriguingly, he alleged that I was writing to please my paymasters.

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I consider Krapa’s rejoinder as a good opportunity to sustain the discourse on our national leadership crisis and will gladly respond to his anxieties. I have serious concerns about his rush to judgement about the motive for which I write and the issues that feature in my writing and will be guided by them.

The tone of Krapa’s rejoinder didn’t leave me in any doubt that he was unsettled by my audacity to take on his sacred cow the way I did. I appreciate his explanation of issues but remain unconvinced that he did a good job to clear the air or to prevent me from taking on Akufo-Addo or any politician, for that matter. I pity him and want to use this opportunity to clarify some of the issues in his rejoinder that jumped at me.

I will respond to only those viewpoints raised by Krapa that need debunking or further clarification and elaboration. And there are just a few of such issues in that long rejoinder worthy of my bother. A lot of what he presented passes as mere worthless verbiage that serves no useful purpose to change my impressions about Akufo-Addo.

My main problem is Krapa’s inability to engage the substance of what I based my article on—that in one breath, Akufo-Addo rejected promise-making as his political trump card only to turn round in the same breath to use it. I stated categorically that in his interaction with the NPP followers in London recently, Akufo-Addo had said aboveboard that he would not base his campaigns on “promise-making” but on “policies and programmes.”

But at the least prompting on the campaign trail back home, he quickly chose promise-making as the tool for the hustings. That was what I questioned in that article as an instance of duplicity, which doesn’t redound well to his image. I complained about this deception, not that Akufo-Addo didn’t have any policy or programme under wraps or that he doesn’t have any credentials.

In the first place, I wasn’t the one who forced him to make the commitment. He chose to differentiate “promise-making” from “policies and programmes” as campaign strategies. And he alone knows what “promise-making” is that “policies and programmes” are not. He alone decided to choose one and not the other; but if he tries to play on our intelligence, he creates room for what I did in my article and will do any time he creates doubts during his stump.

Akufo-Addo failed the self-imposed test, which I used as the basis of my argument that such an attitude was impolitic. Is telling Ghanaians that a government under him will provide free education at the pre-tertiary level a promise or a policy/programme? I took him on because he came across as unstable—and such a politician portends danger for the country!

Krapa characterizes me as obviously lacking “a clear understanding of the man Nana Akufo-Addo, and his message to the people, and has unfortunately decided to share this sheer ignorance with the rest of Ghanaians and beyond.” I wonder what about Akufo-Addo he thinks I don’t know or understand to warrant that blanket characterization.

And from what has come out of Akufo-Addo’s mouth so far, I can confidently tell Krapa that he (Akufo-Addo) has no new message for Ghanaians. All he is doing is raising needless dust to blind Ghanaians into accepting the NPP’s vain criticisms that the NDC government has failed to fulfill its electioneering campaign promises; or that the government is incompetent. Then, he goes ahead to use those criticisms as the pretext for waxing in promise-making. That is all he does. Nothing new!!

I have no doubt in my mind that for whatever Akufo-Addo might be to people like Krapa, he isn’t an angel. And from his own utterances and public posturing, he has given me a lot to know about him which makes me cringe to imagine that there are people like Krapa who don’t want him to be taken on.

I refuse to be deterred and will continue to hit hard where it hurts most so that whoever the cap fits will wear it. Krapa needs to know that once Akufo-Addo wants to be given the clout to rule Ghana, he can’t run away from scrutiny; and must be told that without first cleaning the dark spots about his character that people quickly refer to in rejecting him, the going will be tough for him. Whatever about him that excites curiosity or anxiety will be identified and pursued to raise questions and concerns of the sort that featured in my article.

It is not as if Krapa doesn’t know that I wasn’t the first to raise questions about Akufo-Addo’s character problems. Much has already entered the public sphere. An NPP follower like Kofi Coomson (of the Ghanaian Chronicle) had said before the 2008 elections that he couldn’t sleep soundly if Akufo-Addo became Ghana’s President. Why did he say so? Charles Kofi Wayo had also said openly that Akufo-Addo was a drug addict.
Did he say so out of mere spite for Akufo-Addo? How did Akufo-Addo react?

Then, Krapa launched his most vitriolic attack on my person: “It is surely not the way to go in our politics and the Dr. and his pay masters will not have their way with this one, or any others.” I exploded with laughter at this vile accusation, dismissing it outright as the outpourings of a frustrated party fanatic seeking to prove to his mentors that he is good at bad-mouthing someone who has been bold enough to stick his finger into their eyes by writing on Akufo-Addo.

What makes Krapa think that I write because I am paid to do so? And who are those paymasters that he couldn’t mention? Does Krapa want to tell me that the NPP ever paid me for writing articles praising them at one time or the other? The mentality that informed this aspect of Krapa’s rejoinder is sickening. It doesn’t belong to the 21st century. I am nobody’s piper.

I write because of intrinsic motivation; and I always try to focus on pertinent national and international problems to excite public discourse, not because someone somewhere is pulling strings for me to do so and be paid for my efforts. I write because I have the inclination to do so and don’t really care whose ox I gore in the process, provided it will draw people’s attention to the missing links in our efforts at national development. I invite Krapa to read all that I have written so far to see my line of thinking. He will be better informed and take out the issue of “paymasters” from the equation. It doesn’t belong.

Krapa can continue busying himself with such a vain claim. I care less because it won’t dissuade me in any way from writing. I don’t write because I expect someone to pay me for it. Otherwise, those who use the articles that I write would have made me very rich by now. Writing is an art/act which those who know what it is do without expecting any material rewards therefrom.

Again, Krapa seems lost in his own world of fantasy. Here is what he says: “Let me quickly draw the attention of Dr. Bokor to the fact that Nana Addo talks about programmes and policies that his policy committee is still working on.”

Krapa doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about here. I don’t care what Akufo-Addo is doing in the boardroom about policies and programmes. He said he won’t rely on promise-making as his main tool but failed to abide by his own word, which prompted my article. I took him on because he ended up not being faithful. I didn’t say that he was telling lies about policies and programmes. What is there about the programmes and policies that should turn them into the promises that Akufo-Addo is making, anyway?

Krapa needs to remember that I wasn’t the one who compelled Akufo-Addo to commit himself by saying that he won’t base his electioneering campaign on promise-making but on policies and programmes. Nobody forced him to stick his neck out that way. That’s why when he defaults by making promises, that neck has to be cut for him—as I did. That was the foundational issue around which my article was woven. What is mischievous about my reminding Akufo-Addo that he was returning to the dark spot to eat back his own political vomit?

I have said enough already for Krapa and those in the NPP who hate to be told the truth to see things from a wider perspective. Akufo-Addo is shooting himself in the foot; and I have pointed it out to let the NPP know where its path is beginning to get crooked. I have done so because I don’t want them to end up shouting themselves hoarse again when they lose the 2012 elections, or to go to the Supreme Court to attempt annulling the election results. The very problems that will not make Akufo-Addo the obvious choice of the candidates are still lingering around him. That’s his cup of tea!

Krapa and those in the NPP who think this way are too cocksure of their success in next year’s elections. They are beginning to count their chickens before they hatch, which is a dangerous thing to do in politics. As they react with venom to what I write to expose their weaknesses, they create the impression that their candidate has better credentials than anybody else, especially President Mills. Their kind of politicking is repellent. I have known them since 1969 when I got exposed to national politics. No change!!

In our democracy, where numbers count, it is better not to alienate anybody because every single vote has its impact on the election results. The NPP functionaries must have wondered why it took the voters of a small constituency like Tain in the Brong-Ahafo Region to determine Akufo-Addo’s fate in the Presidential run-off in 2008. Just 40,000 votes separated Akufo-Addo from President Mills.

Because our Constitution says that a Presidential Candidate wins the elections by a 50%+1 vote, the NPP should be working hard to engage everybody whose vote may be the match-making one. Who knows where that vote will come from? Akufo-Addo may get the 50% of the valid votes cast but not until he gets the crucial ONE vote, he can’t win the election. Mine may be that ONE vote. Who knows? But he has more work to do to grab that deciding vote from someone like me!!

Unless these NPP fanatics want to tell me otherwise—and failing woefully at persuading me to see things through their eyes—I still maintain my stance. If Akufo-Addo says he will shun promise-making, let him not indulge in promise-making anywhere in his electoral campaign effusions!

It must be obvious to those following Akufo-Addo—like this Herbert Krapa—that they are likely not to stand up to tell him his liabilities for fear of being booted out of the campaign team and, thus, lose the opportunity to be on the gravy train should the party regain power. Unlike them, I have no need to expect any favour from any of these politicians, let alone Akufo-Addo. Unlike them, I can write to tell their candidate what I perceive as his pitfalls without fear of retribution.

I have the guts to tell Akufo-Addo or any other candidate what I consider to be a problem for him or her. My intention is not to indulge in raw mischief—as Krapa has accused me of—or expose the candidate to public ridicule. Far from that. I write to raise contentious issues so that the candidate and his handlers can tackle them and be at peace with themselves and the people they want to rule.

I want to thank the management of Ghanaweb, JoyFm, ModernGhana, AfricaNewsAnalysis, SpyGhana, VibeGhana, and many other online media that continue to provide us the space within which to discuss issues that have a bearing on our national politics. Some of us can’t avoid visiting such spaces frequently, knowing very well what they help us do. It’s reassuring to know that such online spaces connect us with people we haven’t met before in life but whom we can engage in discourses of any kind. I am done.