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It is about time Arthur Kennedy is treated as an ‘enemy combatant’!

Sun, 13 Sep 2015 Source: Ohemeng, Yaw

I do not know Arthur Kobina Kennedy by association, so I will not attack his person. I have, however, read enough of his drivel to comment on his motive and his illusions of grandeur. Arthur Kennedy owes his national fame to two things – his having led the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) for one year during the turbulent times of the Rawlings’ dictatorship and his abysmal showing at the NPP presidential primaries of 2007. He has harvested the dividends from the former to achieve a certain status in the nation, wishing that Ghanaians would forget about the latter. But it is the latter that defines how serious or otherwise he should be taken as a politician.

For those who are too young to know, in our days at university in the 1980s, the NUGS presidency used to rotate between the then three public universities – University of Ghana, Legon; University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (UST, now KNUST); and the University of Cape Coast (UCC). The electorate for electing the NUGS president was formed by students of the university whose turn it was to host the NUGS presidency. Thus whoever was elected did not have to seek the mandate from the entire university student population. Not that this matter much because that was the rule then. It is nonetheless brought out here to illustrate how relatively easy it was then to become a NUGS president. It did not require having the political skills to persuade others who may not be in the same institution as you. Such is the background with which Arthur Kennedy is claiming to know all about winning elections. Of course subsequent losses in presidential and parliamentary primaries have shown that this has not invested in him any overwhelming political skills.

Another myth out there is that Arthur Kennedy was a strong student leader. He could have been but we will never know because universities were closed down for almost the entire tenure of his presidency. There is therefore no evidence to justify some of the accolades he at times claims for himself. We were attacked by miners from Obuasi in 1983, on the very day and occasion that Arthur Kennedy was being sworn in as NUGS president at the Great Hall of UST. It was the subsequent counterattack by students on UST campus that led to the announcement of the closure of universities that evening. Thereafter of course Arthur Kennedy had no students to direct or lead. Without the buffer of the protection that the student body could provide, he was isolated and was harassed by agents of the military regime that forced him to seek refuge in La Cote D’Ivoire. He owes his fame more to having been a victim of a dictatorial government than for being an exceptional student leader. If such is his story, he requires abundance of pity, which he did receive at the time, but certainly not adulation.

We spent a full year at home and Arthur Kennedy’s term of office was almost over by the time we returned to school. If there were any NUGS executives who stood up to the military dictatorship, it was those who immediately took over from the Arthur Kennedy executive – Amoah Larbi, Dan Botwe and Hans Djaba. Any claims of having sacrificed for the nation made by Arthur Kennedy are exaggerated. We know those who led demonstrations up and down the country, some even laying down their lives, to ensure the return to democratic governance. I am afraid that does not include Arthur Kobina Kennedy.

That Arthur Kennedy has set out to destroy Akufo Addo’s third bid for the Presidency is not in doubt. His every writing, since Akufo Addo announced his intention to run again, has been about inducing the failure of this enterprise in order to serve a certain agenda. It is so that afterwards he and his co-conspirators can point to the unelectability of Akufo Addo. I honestly believe that he has assumed such notoriety that he has become almost predictable and fewer and fewer people are taking him serious with every ‘shrieking’ article.

The Akufo Addo campaign cannot, however, ignore the damage he can cause. It is not that his attacks are biting; but the media still take him serious and that makes him capable of diverting the headlines away from positive campaign activities. It is not hard to discern that his actions are coordinated with those of the Akufo Addo detractors in Ghana and that his two latest articles were timed to coincide with Akufo Addo’s nationwide tour.

In the same way that Arthur Kennedy keeps hinting that he knows the ‘dark secrets’ of Akufo Addo and his family, surely others within the party should also know the ‘dark secrets’ of Arthur Kennedy through whatever association they might have had with him. The gloves should be off now - he should be taken on to expose the hollowness of his assertions. Some boils are worth lancing, else they infest underneath. It is about time that the fight he has initiated be joined, not with insults, but with an intellectual engagement. It is certainly about time he is treated intellectually as an ‘enemy combatant’!

Dr Yaw Ohemeng

Columnist: Ohemeng, Yaw