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Opinions Sun, 11 Sep 2011

The Akufo-Addo Saga: The Accuser And The Accused

The tranches of revelation being spurted out by Wikileaks make interesting reading. Today, I present my take on one issue that refuses to go away. In writing this piece I shall attempt to aspire for the elusive standard of pragmatic neutrality in view of the diverse readership.

Perusing the comments left by readers on numerous subjects, one may quite easily discern their political persuasion or ethnic connection without the need for any precognition attributes. What I advocate though is that readers adopt the view of patriotism devoid of political leanings to consider the issues I intend to raise.

Edward Kennedy once said: “Frankly, I don't mind not being President. I just mind that someone else is.” I am writing this article in view of who could become president in 2012. The magnitude of the issue thus justifies the time and effort invested. The saga of the ‘alleged’ drug use of Akufo-Addo and whether or not it can be substantiated is worth discussing. In poring over this issue, one is likely to discover that there are more deep rooted issues than have percolated to the surface at present. The actions of the accused and his accusers are similar to a dramatisation in a theatre. The question one may ask is whether the accused’s actions are the quintessence of sagacity or the apotheosis of inanity. Considering that these allegations have been levelled, the accused has the option of coming out and boldly accepting or refuting the claims, or shutting up shop on the matter.

What makes this issue of dramatic appeal is that under different circumstances, the accusers would have submitted concrete evidence to corroborate their assertions. From newspaper publications, we now have Wikileaks fanning the flames further. In view of the publicised intentions of the accused’s legal team to take local newspapers to court, it is quite amusing where that legal team would take Wikileaks.

In examining the options open to Akufo-Addo, I still wonder why this issue appears not to go away, if ever it would. I want to believe that the accused has chosen to remain silent for reasons best known to him. Such an option may have plausible grounds in the scheme of affairs to justify a choice like this. As yet, no substantial evidence has been given by the accusers to convince the wider public of the veracity of their claims. Finding one’s self in politics or public office, there are bound to be all sorts of issues that would be raised inter alia lies, truths and half truths. It is not difficult in this age of free press for an editor to concoct a story that would damage the credibility of another. Libel cases have only followed as a prognosis of such. It could well be that a public official would have better use of his/her time than going to court to defend him/herself at the slightest rumour peddled. Many would doubt whether this issue of drug use though falls into that category. Is the NPP flag-bearer sending a message to the electorate that he values his time and would rather use it judiciously to capture the top job in the land than slug it out in court? It could well be that Akufo-Addo is demonstrating what can be termed as a ‘tough- skinned’ approach and has not yet had his feathers ruffled enough and that is why he has remained reticent. However, this does not appear to be entirely the case in view of his legal team’s threats in July. Considering that we have not heard the last of these Wikileaks exposé, I am sure more stories would emerge and it remains highly debatable whether loosely guarded information passed on in ‘confidence’ now made public, should form the grounds for conclusive argument.

In view of the fact that the accused himself has neither accepted nor denied the claims, one may ask whether this is the best option to take. The brouhaha created by this story suggests that this issue has to be put to bed once and for all.

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Nana may consider coming out to clear the air if he is to take a leaf from President Obama’s trial by media. The controversy about Obama’s birth certificate was ignored or side-stepped when it first surfaced. However, as the conspiracy continued to gain traction, the White House finally released the original birth certificate stating that the issue had become a sideshow. What is obvious is that in today’s world, the electorate appear to be interested in every minute detail about those who lead them or foster ambitions of doing so, as in the case of Akufo-Addo.

When it comes to cross-examining those we hold to account, we usually adopt a sententious stance, as if we ourselves were the sacrosanct of men. It is amazing how we expect our politicians to aspire to levels of impeccable character standards that we ourselves would never attain in a million years. As if to portray the ersatz notion that politics is a ‘holy’ man’s job. Yet we posit our right to such accountability measures and scrutiny by reason of our vote...our right to allow ourselves to be ruled by another. It so appears therefore that by such conferred suffrage, we are able to occupy such a position. What Akufo-Addo should know therefore is that there is nothing like a private life for someone who wants to occupy the highest office in the land. Voters, in other words, ‘subjects’, would demand to know what they wish to know. Arguments about the rightness or wrongness of such are for another day. There are credibility issues for failing to come out to clear the air. In the light of the high standards expected from leaders and the desire of the populace to hear from the horse’s own mouth about such an allegation, it is hard to argue how silence helps. It may so appear that people are concerned about how their lives would be improved by the person who leads them and would rather focus on such. In spite of that, it remains hard to argue how an air of suspicion about the proposed leader’s credibility would help him garner the votes needed to realise his ambition. One school of thought sticks obdurately to the belief that if you are accused ‘falsely’, you must come out and clear your name. According to this school, failure to do so only creates grounds for more suspicion to fructify.

The debate would rage on all day, and expect the position of some to vacillate from ‘coming out’ or shutting up shop. William O. Douglas sums this position better by saying that: “...The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.” Whatever action Akufo-Addo takes, there are consequences...good or bad. Time will construe his judgement and onward action as either the quintessence of sagacity or the apotheosis of inanity. God bless our homeland Ghana!!!

Dr. Frank Robert Silverson

frsilverson@yahoo.com

Columnist: Silverson, Frank Robert
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