By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Folks, the NPP's Ashanti Regional Chairman (Bernard Antwi Boasiako, also known as Chairman Wontumi) is known as a vile critic of the NDC and its government led by President Mahama. He is known for the use of intemperate language to register his stiff dislike for anything NDC/Mahama and does politics as defined by his understanding of the UP culture. He is also known for extending his mean attitude to President Mahama's brother (Ibrahim), and is in court to answer for smearing Ibrahim.
He is out again, expressing dismay at the manner in which President Mahama reacted to the killing of the NPP's Abuakwa North MP (J.B. Danquah-Adu). As reported, Wontumi has condemned President Mahama as not "showing respect to the deceased and his family" because he used an non-traditional means to express his "shock" at the murder of the MP.
Indeed, President Mahama had used his Twitter space to express that shock, which is at issue as fart as Wontumi's reaction is concerned. Let's hear him as reported:
"It does not show respect for President Mahama to tweet to console the family of the deceased MP. It is not traditional for him to use that medium to sympathize with a member who is party to one of the arms of government which makes laws for the country…it is sad and surprising for the President to do that... I expected as the Parliamentarians did, considering events surrounding his death, the President would have issued a statement to offer condolence to the bereaved family.”
He went further to accuse President Mahama of "not showing any interest towards the safety of his people, especially in the wake of numerous cases of contract killings and unresolved murders"; and he opined that President Mahama should have used the death of the MP to assure the nation of maximum protection to offer hope of peaceful environment for Ghanaians. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Mahama-didn-t-show-respect-to-family-of-slain-MP-Wontumi-414556).
True, one would have expected President Mahama to use better means then Twitter/social media to reach out to the family of the slain MP and calm nerves while investigation into the matter is done. I agree with Wontumi that by turning to Twitter, President Mahama flopped. It is unacceptable for him to go that way.
How many of the deceased MP's relatives even use Twitter to be able to know what the President has said in reaction to the sordid happening? How many Ghanaians even use that medium to condole/console the bereaved as President Mahama has done?
Indeed, our traditions and culture have no room for that approach. In that sense, President Mahama failed to use the occasion to stamp his authority as a "Father-for-all" (re-echoing the late President Mills). It is not customary for Ghanaians to commiserate with each other that way. The President failed to show warmth and must be told the truth. Ghanaians would appreciate him better if he had done otherwise than using social media on this occasion.
Ghanaians are known for reacting to the death of loved ones in a more "human" manner than the one chosen by President Mahama. On that score, Wontumi is right; and I strongly agree with him.
What prevented President Mahama from personal issuing a statement to express that shock and to reassure everyone that the authorities would do everything in their power to investigate the matter and punish the perpetrator(s)? Could he not have even delegated some of his appointees to immediately interact with the relatives of the slain MP and express that shock? The human touch/feeling is missing in the President's choice of channel to express his shock.
Folks, I have on many occasions condemned the recourse to social media by President Mahama and his government functionaries, especially in raising issues and commenting on matters bordering on governance. Let no one be deceived about the hidden danger(s) of social media and the many new-fangled attractions that end up being traps for avid users.
I have had the occasion to caution President Mahama and his appointees so fixated on Facebook and other social media as to lose touch with their fellow human beings seeking opportunities to physically interact with them to share ideas on issues bordering society.
For all that they represent, social media can't be relied on to do political mobilization for the President or the government/political party. It is just a facility to be used for purposes that aren't all-encompassing. Anybody in government who deceives himself/herself that using social media and writing all kinds of stuff there will ensure connections with people is not fit to be in government. People cherish physical interactions more than what is bandied about on social media.
To cut a long story short, let me reiterate the point that President Mahama's use of Twitter this way is misplaced and regrettable. Is he not in the country at the moment to use means other than Twitter to reach out to the bereaved family or just any other constituency affected by this dastardly act?
Folks, I am tempted to think that President Mahama's recourse to Twitter/Facebook, etc. is premised on the claim that he is a communicator; and he relishes the fact that he can use the media to that effect. It doesn't help in all cases to endear him to the hearts of the people. He shouldn't over-rate such a facility.
Ghanaians expect him to connect with them physically, not through social media that can be used by "enemies of the sate" to gather intelligence aimed at undermining Ghana's interests!!!
I wish those fascinated about Facebook, Twitter, and other social media (where they hang around, saying just anything at all) will pause to consider the fact that such facilities have become useful goldmines for security and intelligence establishments seeking intelligence to perpetrate their clandestine activities worldwide. How many times haven't we been told that the security system in the United States, for instance, has asked Facebook for data on users considered as "threats"? Or just anybody whose presence on such social media is of interest to them?
I will continue to sound the warning note that President Mahama and his functionaries should be more wary of social media as a danger to themselves and the system they are presiding over than as an asset to be cherished and used indiscriminately.
Can we even pause to note that such social media were developed by people not interested in our African cause for whatever we seek to progress in life? How many of us worked with them to develop such facilities? Why should we lose our heads, using such facilities anyhow? And why should we turn such social media into better modes of dealing with our people, contrary to the laid-down traditions and culture that guide our existence as one people with a common destiny?
I am disappointed at the President's use of Twitter for this purpose on this occasion. He has a lot to do to undo the harm done to him by his choice of an uncommon channel to condole/console the family of the late MP. He has lost a good opportunity to stamp himself on the situation politically.
The overarching question: Will he resort to Twitter or Facebook in reacting to the death of other prominent Ghanaians or world leaders? If not, why not?
I shall return…
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