Can a man who breaks his marriage vows lead a nation?

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 Source: Ohemeng, Yaw

NDC propagandists have spent the last four years trying to dig dirt on Nana Akufo Addo with the sole aim of impugning his integrity. The latest in that quest is the supposed omission from his CV that he once attended but did not complete Oxford University. If not for mischief making, no one expects an institution from which no qualification was obtained to be put on a CV. Oxford University itself, in a response to one of those probing this non-issue, implied that they would have found it of much public concern if Nana Addo had sought to seek electoral advantage from his limited time at the university. If not for the lack of a campaign message, why should a party in power that claims to have delivered in an unprecedented manner, not tout its achievements but rather choose to spend time and money to denigrate the leader of its main rival political party?

This takes me back to 1992 when President Bill Clinton was challenging President Bush, Snr. for the Whitehouse. The Bush Whitehouse could not match the vision that Clinton was painting for the future of America; hence they resorted to personal attacks. They charged that Clinton was a womaniser, a draft dodger and a fraud. They even sought to accuse him of being a Communist when they found out that he once visited Moscow on a school trip during his student days at Oxford University. It took Ross-Perot, who was contesting as an independent candidate, to beat down this latter accusation. What Perot said then, at one of the Presidential debates, is very much relevant to the Ghanaian situation too. He said he was unconcerned about what a young student might have done wrong in his school days. He was rather concerned about the American economy which had then been crippled by the Bush Administration. Bill Clinton went on to be elected President, not for one term, but for two terms.

It is in this same vein that I urge Ghanaians to ignore this sniping from the sides, which is really much ado about nothing but a calculated diversionary tactic by a party that has nothing to sell. I personally know two English school kids, from the Northwest of England, who went to Oxford and left in the very first term because they found the atmosphere, full of students from public schools (this is the term used for private schools in the UK) and children of aristocrats, not meant for them. The son of my supervisor at university was one of them and the head boy of my son’s sixth form school also left to reapply to Nottingham University the following year. What I rather urge Ghanaians to focus on is the insults-based governance of the past four years and the culture of foot soldier impunity that was let loose on the country. They should remember the lies and propaganda that propped up an ailing President that left the country leaderless and directionless. No one should forget the Tony Aidoos, the Okudzeto Ablakwas, the Kojo Twum Boafos, the Fiifi Kwetteys, the Felix Kwakye Ofosus, the Otokunors, the Koku Anyidohos, the Kobby Acheampongs, and the Hannah Bissiws as they line up to vote. They should ask themselves whether they can endure another four years of this arrogant and incompetent bunch, who insulted anybody and everybody in Ghana. They did not spare Doctors and Lecturers and neither did they spare Chiefs and Pastors. They even supported the Police attack on demonstrating teachers.

Ideally an election campaign should be about issues (i.e. education, health, the economy, jobs, security, etc.) and who has the best policies to address them. But since the NDC is making the personal integrity of the Presidential candidates an issue as well, backed by no less a person than Tsatsu Tsikata, we should perhaps widen the question beyond Nana Akufo Addo.

In the months leading to the 2008 elections, the issue of President Mahama having fathered several children outside his marriage came up. His wife was reported to have said that this was part of the hazards for marrying a handsome man (Daily Guide, 15th April 2008). This statement from someone aspiring to be the First Lady of Ghana, if true, is regrettable. This would be of little comfort to all Ghanaian women who are suffering the heartache of betrayal by their husbands. According to the President’s wife, they should be able to bear it for it is part of the hazards for marrying a handsome man. By extension, wives should also be able to bear any form of abuse they are subjected to, being it physical, verbal or mental. The caretaker President confirmed the docile posture of his wife recently (September 2012) when, in a reported interview by AfricaWatch Magazine, he is quoted as saying that he has had children outside his marriage but that his wife understood. To every Christian, marriage is a sacred institution ordained by God. It does not matter whether the President’s wife understood it or not, he should not have broken the marriage vows he freely took. Having betrayed his wife in this way, the question to ask then is: can such a person keep the vows he would be making to Ghanaians if elected President? My answer is a resounding NO. If he broke the vows he made to the person closest to him, how can he keep the oath he would swear to Ghanaians, a large number of whom he has never met before? If he could break his marriage vows, it would be a doddle to break any vows made to Ghanaians.

If personal integrity is the criterion for becoming President, as the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP) of the NDC believes, then Mr John Mahama represents no choice because he betrayed the person closest to him, his wife, several times. The worst thing about it all is that he has not publicly shown any contrition for these acts. Ghanaian voters will vote for the NDC at their peril!!!

Dr Yaw Ohemeng

Columnist: Ohemeng, Yaw