By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, September 5, 2011
Like the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over the NPP’s Akufo-Addo, the never-fading allegation of drug-use against him continues to dangle in the public domain. It continues to dent his public image as it assumes wider dimensions.
A Wikileaks rep ort, based on a cable from Pamela Bridgewater (the former United States Ambassador in Ghana), has added a new complexion to the allegation. Her cable was entitled “‘GHANA AND THE 2008 ELECTION: PROSPECTS FOR THE RULING NPP.” Another Wikileaks report saying that Akufo-Addo was worried about the narcotics trafficking going on and his intentions to equip the relevant state institutions to tackle it don’t really absolve him from anything concerning the allegation on his own drug use. Nor can anybody say that the report itself is not worth our bother. It is, coming from observations by the former US Ambassador and not a Ghanaian political entity who might be accused of colouring issues with biases for political capital. I accept the report as part of what we need to probe issues, regardless of the vacuous threat of legal action against anybody uttering the allegation.
The report has damning aspects, as we can tell from the portion which says that “he has poor organizational skills and often comes across as arrogant and formal, which may not play well with many party activists and Ghanaian voters.” These damning aspects were part of what ditched him in the 2008 elections. As Akufo-Addo himself encountered in his interactions with one elderly woman in the central Region during his “listening to the People” campaign tour, the comment from the woman that she had been made to know him as “arrogant”—which he himself sought to explain—is enough to confirm that part of the report.
The report also touches on “his reputation as a womanizer,” which is nothing strange, especially inferring from the unguarded and morally challenged comments that he had made over the period (citing his virility and praising the late Theresa Tagoe’s backside, for instance).
But the part that should alarm Akufo-Addo himself is that which says that he was an “occasional marijuana smoker” which, as the former US Ambassador’s cable rightly predicted, “may also damage him politically.” That damage has already been done and will continue to be done all the more until Akufo-Addo comes clean. The more he goes for the tail of the bull instead of its horns, the more he will furnish his detractors with the ammunition to shatter his hopes, based on this simple fear-mongering factor of “character.”
The Wikileaks report has added more vim to public agitations about this drug problem dogging Akufo-Addo for many years now. Coming at the time this allegation still remains topical, the timing of this Wikileaks release doesn’t work in Akufo-Addo’s favour. I am waiting patiently to hear from his legal team (Nana Bediatuo and co.) to know whether they will threaten legal action against Wikileaks and the former US Ambassador too—something they have used to attempt curtailing any further reference to this drug problem in utterances concerning Akufo-Addo.
At this point, it must be clear to that legal team that the problem cannot be solved through legal means but rather a simple and straight-forward approach that demands that Akufo-Addo himself tackle the problem. I can say here that the solution of the problem lies in Akufo-Addo’s own hands, not in the clout of his so-called legal team. The earlier he organizes a press conference to bare it all, the better chances are that public interest in this allegation will take a different turn altogether.
If he admits the allegation and tells the whole world that he has quit (and when he did so), nobody will go after him except if he spins a tissue of lies—and provided that nobody steps forward to dispute his claim with concrete evidence. Maybe, one of those doing it with him or buying the stuff for him? In all certainty, the matter will die out if Akufo-Addo tackles it head-on instead of hiding behind vain threats from a legal team that is itself unsure of the state of affairs.
We continue to raise this drug-use problem because it is one major issue that continues to be a blot on anything Akufo-Addo. We don’t harp on it because we love mischief. We do so not because we are bent on tarnishing his image to doom his aspirations but because of our strong conviction that our incessant discussion of the issue will provoke him to clear the air.
We acknowledge the fact that human character develops and is subject to transformation as the circumstance surrounding the individual’s life and experiences determine over the years. That is why it is not fair to reject someone just because of some past character problems. But if it is clear that the character problems have “fossilized” and will negatively influence the person’s image in public office, then, they must be factored into any political decision concerning that person.
Any open admission or renunciation by Akufo-Addo will not be the first in Ghanaian political history. The traits that the former US ambassador wrote about (especially those concerning womanizing and the use of “wee”) are not unusual about Ghanaian public figures. The late Kutu Acheampong was known as an alcoholic and a womanizer, which negatively affected his attitude to administration. He took exception to the allegation on womanizing and boldly asked his fellow SMC members whether any one of them could claim to be sleeping with only his wife!
Rawlings openly admitted his habit of smoking “wee” and the Wikileaks report on him is nothing new to some of us. But the difference between these people and Akufo-Addo is clear. They had already become Heads of State at the time these allegations were being spread. Again, they didn’t face the electorate in any general elections at the time, having shot their way into office. Unlike them, Akufo-Addo is in a political race and his reputation is on the line as he prepares to face the electorate again. Anything that will detract from his standing is worth appraising and addressing as soon as the need arises. And for him, the need arose long ago, but his own miscalculation seems to be ditching him. Do we know what else will emerge about him?
I don’t understand why Akufo-Addo has chosen to run away from the problem. Or is it part of the “spoilt-child” syndrome?
Akufo-Addo has been lucky all through his slightly more than 6 decades on this earth—being born with a silver spoon in his mouth and being privileged to follow the footprints left behind by his father or other descendants of the Akufo-Addo lineage. If he is today bragging about his accomplishments, it must be because the path had already been cleared for him to tread into a comfortable lifestyle. It has not been so for the millions of people he is aspiring to rule if he wins the 2012 elections.
But these millions of Ghanaians cannot go for anybody just because of that person’s desire to be their President. They want someone with a clean slate whose past records they can be proud of as they take steps to improve conditions for good citizenship. Wee-smoking is not a mark of good citizenship nor will it create any good impression for the country in this 21st century.
In Akufo-Addo’s case, question marks continue to hang over his character, which makes it difficult for some of us to wonder why he has chosen to run away from the problem instead of being bold to solve it outright. I am certain that if he chooses to come clean and to level with Ghanaians, he will have some sympathy, which should neutralize all the negative impressions that his running away from the problem has created and continues to worsen for him. For how long should he continue to run away from this problem?
I don’t see what is difficult about confirming or disproving all these allegations by telling Ghanaians as it is. If he can openly accuse others of inadequacies and expect to be believed, I don’t see why others too can’t make allegations against him and expect him to clear the air. Nothing justifies his running away from this drug-use allegation. We are bothered because if we reject our current President for not providing the quality of leadership that we expect, we must go for one who will not turn out to be worse. And in matters of public office, character counts!
Will Akufo-Addo not remove the mote in his eye first before going for the beam in others’ eyes? Or will he run away from Wikileaks too and hope that the allegation will die a natural death? Courage, Akufo-Addo, do not stumble. Clear the air now and brighten your corner for Election 2012!!