By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
November 25, 2010
It seems the NPP’s Akufo-Addo doesn’t know how to do politics without creating needless rumpus. His approach is a rough-and-tumble one, which hasn’t endeared him to the hearts of some of us who will continue to cringe at any prospect of his becoming Ghana’s President. He is too flippant for our liking.
Even before the dust finally settles down on why he lost the second round of the 2008 Presidential elections to the self-effacing Professor Mills, this self-righteous Akufo-Addo is out again, drawing unnecessary attention to himself and re-opening sordid chapters of his unwritten biography. He was at Tamale to box himself into a tight corner by throwing a big but belated challenge to those he calls his “detractors” who are accusing him of drug-dealing. Hear him:
“I have never tasted or sniffed cocaine. Why are my detractors attacking my personality, saying that I am a drug addict?” Nana Addo fumed (Ghanaweb.com, November 25, 2010).
He wants those accusers to prove that he is a drug addict (sniffing cocaine or heroin) or shut up. He didn’t tell us how he hoped to deal with the critics but vowed not to tolerate any further attacks on his personality. He threatened to deal decisively with persons who continue to peddle falsehood against him as a drug addict.
The big question arising out of this belated public pronouncement is: Why now, Akfuo-Addo?
For the records, let it be known that these allegations began doing their rounds long before the 2008 general elections and heightened within and after that period. Akufo-Addo didn’t come out to comment on them when his side of the issue was most needed, even when Kofi Wayo (who had claimed to know him closely enough to wade into those allegations) joined the chorus. Instead, his spokesmen took up the damage-control role and spent all resources defending him to no avail.
Despite criss-crossing the political spectrum in defending him, they failed to change public impressions and, without any further speculation, one can say that such a smear campaign did the damage that cost him the Presidential seat. The allegations are still rife and doing the intended harm, but Akufo-Addo hasn’t said anything in his own defence until now. Why now, when no particular exigency has arisen for re-opening this wound? Or is he coming out now to ward off this nettlesome albatross long before the hustings heat up?
He has a tough call to attend to. When his daughter was recently arrested for drunk-driving and misconduct (verging on drug abuse), many people urged Akufo-Addo to salvage his family’s image and disabuse people’s minds of such damaging drug-addiction claims. He chose to keep mute, and his image continued to be dragged in the mud.
Then, all of a sudden, he was in Tamale to stir up this dust. My hunch is that he will be caught in this dust storm and must be prepared for the negative fallouts. Already, those who know him are gearing up to let him know that calling himself a “Nima boy” has a dark side to it. Is he prepared for the deluge?
There is another allegation that in the 1960s, he recklessly drove a car to cause an accident that deformed the victim and eventually claimed his life. We read about that happening less than a month ago on Ghanaweb. The allegation had it that the charge against him fizzled out because someone used a powerful clout to free him from the clutches of the law. After all, his father was one of the pillars of the Judiciary at the time. Will Akufo-Addo come out to comment on this allegation too? We wait to see.
Again, when in the electioneering campaign period preceding the 2008 elections he made unguarded remarks to the effect that he was virile and that anybody doubting his claim should consult the women, did he not know that he was leading the attack on his own “immoral” personality? Will he challenge us to confirm that allegation too or leave him alone?
Without any doubt, Akufo-Addo is the very person who is setting himself up for personal attacks. Not until he learns how to conduct himself in public or until he restrains himself from blurting out whatever he might have done on the quiet in private, the credibility problem for him will continue to mount. He is the cause of his own woes and must be told the truth.
In politics, anything that dents the image of aspiring candidates is worth tackling as soon as it rears its ugly head. In tackling such issues, those being accused don’t wait for much harm to be done before waking up to the reality. They take prompt steps to clear the air, unlike what Akufo-Addo has waited for far too long before turning his attention to. He is a pitiable loser already.
We have antecedents. Former US President, Bill Clinton, didn’t wait for his detractors to use his wee-smoking stint to cause havoc. He responded promptly, owning up to it and finding better ways to enrich his political career. In 1979, Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings owned up when allegations emerged that he was on marijuana (wee). He quickly cleared the air and moved on to what would regain public trust for him.
Waiting needlessly long before responding to such allegations is useless because much harm would have been done by then. It is so for Akufo-Addo. His priceless political race horses have already bolted out of the stables into the wild. Why is he bothering to close the stable doors now?
Having already reduced himself to a laughing stock with the recent occurrences at traditional festival grounds in which he was physically humiliated by the security agencies and NDC functionaries, he hasn’t learned any useful lesson to polish his approach, and is still miscalculating. By providing services (bottled water for Ghanaian Muslims preparing to go on the Pilgrimage) that were rejected as a cheap political ploy, he lost face. His recent visits to the flood-hit parts of Northern Ghana and the gutted Agbogbloshie Market in Accra had nothing to motivate them but hopes for cheap political leverage. He is, indeed, desperately looking for anything to cling on to and comes across as a pathetic case.
What will win political power for Akufo-Addo is not the spate of promises he makes or the daredevil approach in challenging his accusers not to attack his personality. It is a conscientious effort to re-brand himself and present development agenda that Ghanaians can relate to and trust to be implemented which will evoke goodwill. Such a development agenda mustn’t necessarily be based on promises to bring down the moon for Ghanaians to occupy. It mustn’t create the impression that Akufo-Addo will establish Ghana as a heaven-on-earth for its citizens to dwell in. It mustn’t be touted as a magic carpet gleaned from the Arabian Nights Tales. It mustn’t be based on wishful thinking either.
For Akufo-Addo to impress people like us, he will have to do more than merely throwing challenges to critics to prove their allegations against him or to stop attacking his personality. He will have to embark on the kind of politics that will instill hope and confidence in the people, based on concrete policy initiatives to prove that a government under him will not govern the way its predecessors have. He will have to demonstrate proven qualities to endear him to the hearts of the people.
For now, he seems not to know how to do so and shouldn’t be surprised if he suffers the same fate that shattered his Presidential ambitions into smithereens and sent him on this difficult campaign of self-redemption. Until Akufo-Addo purges himself as a desperate, fiery, fast-talking, conservative democrat, until he manages his personality properly to erase the current negative impressions, he will continue to widen the gulf between him and those who know him for what he is.
With all these allegations hanging around his neck, he has more to do than throwing useless challenges, threatening his accusers, or making “huhudious” promises to the electorate. The road for him to travel is really hard and he must tread cautiously.