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Sakyi-Addo’s interview of Jerry John Rawlings: An anticlimax

Tue, 7 Jul 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

Both Kwaku Sakyi-Addo (KSA) and former President Jerry Rawlings disappointed discerning listeners on “Sunday Night” on Asaase Radio 99.5MhZ with their interview broadcast on 5 July; it was an anticlimax.

During his heydays anytime KSA came under fire for treating guests with kid gloves on his Front Page programme on Joy FM of Accra, he defended himself thus: “It is an interview”, suggesting that he had to allow his guest to speak, and not “interject”.

Suffice it to say that explanation is untenable.

Fast forward to Sunday and KSA’s nervous laughter while JJ offered fast and loose effusions, to the sounds of fowls and dogs in the background.

Now, for a short but by no means an exhaustive list of shortfalls.

First, KSA, had no coherent strategy for the scheduled interview.

Perhaps remembering how he KSA was outrun by Naana Opoku-Agyemang, then a lecturer at University of Cape Coast and host of Radio Gold’s “Critical Analysis” in the race to interview incumbent President Rawlings, KSA felt a lifetime opportunity had arrived.

Hence, he wanted to cram all the 20 years of Jerry Rawlings’ rule into the one hour interview; this backfired.

Several times, the duo would raise a topic, and Rawlings would say that he wanted to go into details anticipating that the host would revert during the interview; this hardly ever happened.

Second, KSA was obsessed with the coup d’etat years, yet he was not ready with hard-hitting questions; he simply allowed JJ to talk.

For example, Rawlings castigated Kwaku Baako’s account of what happened to ? Goka, saying “Nobody did any such thing and professional soldiers don’t do things like that actually,” but the necessary searching follow up questions did not come.

Third, since the interview was inadequately structured, it required thorough editing before broadcast; this was not done. Perhaps it would have even been better presented in a different format as a radio documentary.

Fourth, Rawlings made an important point that when he was promoting “family planning” on the campaign trail, J.A. Kufuor was asking people to give birth to more children.

KSA simply countered that he did not recall that happening and shifted back to military rule.

However, at the peak performance of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Kufuor’s NPP campaign team were mounting platforms and telling Ghanaians that they could now give birth to more children because there was free maternal care and delivery available.

Even Vice President Bawumia has listed that in his litany of achievements several times.

In short, KSA did not arrange the years or periods of events in chronological order. He did not arrange them thematically either.

Fifth, KSA discussed “the SIB [Special Investigation Board] report” without telling listeners about the substantive findings of the National Reconciliation Commission, allowing Rawlings to obfuscate.

But Rawlings was most irritating when he averred that his 10-year military rule was the best and hence he would not offer any regrets for the coup d’etat.

Rawlings also claimed that he was the first to break the so-called “culture of silence” when he complained that passengers on lake Bosumtwi would not even comment when the crew were drunk.

And KSA gave him uncontested space for his inaccurate and polemical assertions.

To allow such latitude to a guest who censored private media for almost 10 years, presided over disappearances and extrajudicial killings was pathetic and flirting with incompetence.

In the end, Rawlings himself admitted that he did not know what he wanted to do with power, saying: “I don’t know what to do with it, honestly and I had in mind those I thought were good enough…..Bishop [Peter Akwasi] Sarpong, this, that.”

All told, both host and guest were a perfect fit for current standards at Mediocrity Central, aka ghana.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

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