Has Akufo-Addo boxed himself into a tight corner?

Sat, 23 Jan 2016 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Folks, when a politician cannot stand firm to speak and act expeditiously and reflect natural intelligence and political acumen, he may end up pandering to whims and caprices with negative boomerang effects. In our Ghanaian situation, our politicians have been established as whimsical to all intents and purposes, saying and doing things as if all they can do to survive is to play to the gallery. They clutch straw and end up drowning!!

A case in point is what the NPP's Akufo-Addo has led himself into regarding the decision by the Ghanaian government to host in Ghana for two years the ex-detainees of GITMO. When news about this deal broke out, those of us who disagreed with the government took it on and condemned it for pandering to the United States' will to put Ghana where it shouldn't be as rar as international terrorism is concerned. We didn't hide anything in our disavowal.

I was among the first group of people commenting on the deal to blast the Mahama-led administration for pushing Ghana into such a deal without prior consultation with the Ghanaian stakeholders (Parliament, the Judiciary, identifiable political and civil society, etc.). I wondered why the government would act unilaterally and questioned the rationale behind the deal, especially in terms of any benefits to Ghana for hosting these Yemeni undesirables. I haven't yet been persuaded by arguments from government circles to change my stance. Many others have also aired their dissension.

However, the NPP's Akufo-Addo (clearly the flagbearer of the political cabal that sees itself as a shadow government and Akufo-Addo as a shadow president) didn't say anything on the deal. Those close to him did so, joining the line of the opponents to condemn the government. A group calling itself the "Great Democrats" had urged him to speak out. The NPP made it clear that he won't comment on the issue, which rather ended up setting the stage for him to box himself into a tight corner with a series of mis-steps.

Mis-step number one immediately cropped up. Right in the same breath, Akufo-Addo contradicted the NPP's stance when he caused an official statement to be issued to state his opposition to the deal. He charged at the government for bowing to pressure from the US and asked that the Yemeni undesirables should be returned. Clearly, that was his mis-step number two. Of course, the US spokespeople had already made it clear that according to the terms of the deal with Ghana, the ex-GITMO detainees couldn't be returned to the US. So, why would Akufo-Addo not know that fact to avoid that mis-step?

Akufo-Addo's mis-step number three didn't take long to emerge. Speaking at Wa, he accused President Mahama of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act (Act 762) and reinforced his lambasting of President Mahama as incompetent. He specifically quoted section 35 of the Act to accuse President Mahama of failing in leadership.

Lawyers, social commentators, and the government have reacted to his accusation that by making Ghana agree to host the Yemeni undesirables, President Mahama, indeed, breached the Anti-Terrorism Act. We take these comments one after the other for a brief analysis.

The government has debunked Akufo-Addo's claim, taunting him of not interpreting the Anti-Terrorism Act properly. If he did so, he won't fail to see things more clearly.

Others have said that the Act says nothing about the President but the Director of Immigration Service and the Minister of the Interior. So, why rope in President Mahama to sustain the NPP's politics of calumny? In effect, then, Akufo-Addo goofed by giving President Mahama a bad name in the desperate attempt to have him hanged.

No matter how the issues are analyzed, it is clear that public concern about the government's deal with the US is real and high; it will definitely influence Ghanaian politics for a long time. Whatever happens hereafter, the government should be prepared for the repercussions.

What is, however, bothering some people closely monitoring developments is the misleading impressions that the NPP and its Akufo-Addo have created. First, saying that Akufo-Addo won;t react to the deal only for him to do so and to be put on the spot as shooting his mouth without properly interpreting issues within the context of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

One question that surrounds everything is: If Akufo-Addo wins Election 2016 (May God forbid!!), what will he do about the two Yemeni undesirables? They have two years to live in Ghana. Will he return them to the US or Yemen, or where else? Until then, anything coming from him and the NPP will raise eyebrows for the wrong reason. What will they do differently?

Before anybody comes out here to accuse me of being an Akufo-Addo hater using this GITMO thing to intensify my "hate propaganda", let me say that Akufo-Addo would have had a better traction had he respected his own word not to comment on the matter (even though it's clear that he's been using his spokesmen to do so indirectly, which is itself questionable). But once he broke his own self-imposed injunction to open his mouth, he leaves us with no other option to take him on. He hasn't proved to be principled in this sense.

And once he turned everything on President Mahama, hiding behind the Anti-Terrorism Act, he creates room for him to be questioned as to whether he has really read and understood that Act properly. The lawyer that he claims to be, one expects more from him than he has done so far to be deflated by the government.

Saying that he won't talk about the issue only to turn round to talk about it and to misrepresent it and cast doubts on his own integrity is a serious indictment on him. Mine is to interrogate issues. I still am against the government's deal with the US. I came out boldly to say so on Day One and have maintained my stance all this while. No libilibi-labalaba!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.