Of Privileges and Noises

Tue, 28 Mar 2006 Source: Kwamena, Ato

Let me tell you something, friend. Whoever is in charge of the NPP?s public relations (PR) is grossly incompetent. I?m totally convinced about their incompetence. Time and time again, President Kufuor?s PR men and women have revealed that they are not up to the task.

There?s this unwritten rule in politics that when your opponent is under fire or is suffering from negative publicity in the press you should not try and ?steal? the limelight from them. That would be bad politics. So in such a situation, you let your opponent suffer from the bad publicity as you keep yourself under low-profile, outside the view or coverage of the press ? without making any negative or positive comment ? until such a time as the press has fatigued over that negative story.

Since the NDC?s intimidation-infested Koforidua Congress, with its concomitant and subsequent regular resignations of prominent party members, the NDC has been suffering from bad publicity. The new party executives ? Dr. Kwabena Adjei and Asiedu-Nketiah ? have shown themselves to be more as incendiary agents than of peacemakers. Every word that escapes their lips has gone to reinforce the view that majority of Ghanaians have of their party ? that it is nothing but a group for men and women whose appetite for violence, thuggery, initimidation, chaos, and mayhem, is insatiable. Since the Koforidua Congress 4 months ago, the party has not been successful in weaning itself from the negative publicity. Week after week, more prominent party members have resigned from the cult. That NDC is a cult cannot be refuted by anyone. It?s a faddish devotion to their Godfather, Jerry Rawlings - with its followers showing exaggerated zeal (call it craze) for their idol, to the extent that they are willing to spill even innocent blood to protect Rawlings? bad image.

So why the Kufuor Administration would, at this time, bring up the issue of ?Privileges? for chairman Rawlings is beyond explanation. Now they have, by this incompetent act, managed to do something that the NDC was unable to do for 4 good months ? shifting the press attention away from their thuggish image! For how long will this Administration continue to shoot itself in the foot, I ask? Over the years, by their lack of foresight and inability for weigh their political actions before they speak, this Administration has opened the way for those with nefarious motives to have a fields day. (Like when Kwamena Bartels stated that the government was considering assisting parliamentarians and ministers to go into farming, to bring respectability to the job).

The weakest chain in the Kufuor Administration is their inability to set national discourse. And when they have tried to do this, they reveal their lack of foresight in accurately reading the public reaction to their words or acts. When the Administration withdrew certain priviledges that were enjoyed by chairman Rawlings, the only one that they basically stopped offering to the NDC?s Godfather was access to Ghana?s Foreign Affairs Ministry and its High Commissions around the world. So when that ?privilege? was withdrawn back in 2003, Rawlings could no longer ask Akuffo-Addo to help him obtain visas for Victor Smith and his other stooges so that they could accompany the Godfather on many of his foreign tours. The other ?privilege? that was withdrawn was the chauffering of the chairman by Ghanaian Missions from the airport to whatever luxurious hotel he had choosen to stay. That was all that the chairman was denied: help in securing visa for Victor Smith and other stooges, use of VIP lounges at various airports, and the chauffering of the chairman to his hotel from the airport. That was all folks. The PR folks in Kufuor?s Administration should have made that crystal clear to all.

Rawlings still enjoys free petroleum at your expense (even as he tells you he is suffering from the rise of petroleum price on the world market). Anytime you see any of Rawlings? cars driving pass you, know that it?s your petrol that fuels that vehicle. When he moves his motorcade and tours every breadth of our country in campaigning for his party and in spewing venom against our own leaders, all that he has to do at the end of such trip is to present the bill to the government, and voila! It?s all paid! Again, the government?s withdrawal of his Privileges did not affect his pension or gratuities. He still takes fat checks each month from your country?s treasury, even as he tells you he is suffering. He still lives in a building built and refurbished with your tax money. When the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) increases how much you?ll pay for water, or electricity, it doesn?t affect the chairman one bit. Part of the electricity and water bill you pay each month is for Rawlings enjoyment of those utilities. In effect you foot his electricity and water bill. And this ?privilege? he enjoys was not taken away from him. Each year you foot a first-class plane ticket for him, and a stay at a luxurious hotel. You also pay for an expensive vacation for himself and Konadu-Agyeman Rawlings. And he?s been enjoying that privilege since January 7th, 2001 to the day you are reading this article.

So whenever Rawlings complains (directly or indirectly through his stooges) about not being treated well by this Administration, he?s basically talking about not getting assistance to secure visas for Victor Smith and co; not being chauffered from the airport to the hotel and back; not having access to VIP lounges at various airports. He won?t tell you he basically lives his life at your expense. Why? You think he?s that stupid! What benefit would it serve chairman Rawlings to tell you that he enjoys a first-class ticket a year to any destination around the world, or that you pay for his utility bills, his cooks, garden-boys, etc? So he likes to keep the good things undercover and pretend like he doesn?t enjoy ?jack? from you!

So when those incompetent Public Relations guys at the castle decided to come out at this time (of all times) to tell us that from now onwards they are going to help get visas for Victor Smith, etc, the NDC smartly jumped on it. And they?ve been making all sorts of noise. Now, Haruna Attah is even telling us to ?institutionalize the office of the former president?. He?s even telling us to amend the Constitution to make the former president a member of the Council of State. How far Rawlings? stooges would go to demand heaven and earth for the comfort of their Godfather, only the Heavens will know! I still don?t understand why another human being would take it as his job, to do ANYTHING, however nonsensical it may be, to please ONE man (however evil he may be). It just doesn?t make sense! I guess only a bona fide NDC member can explain the nostalgic feeling they get and the sense of deep, inner statisfaction they derive when they make such preposterous demands for the benefit of only one man in Ghana ? their Godfather. I wonder whether he has promised them a seat or a part in his future Kingdom if they dutifully serve him with all their mind, and with all their might. (They call him ?junior Jesus? don?t they? So maybe he?s also promised them a future kingdom). Come to think of it! Dr. Hila Limann, Ghana?s sole former President and Head of State, died during Rawlings? regime in abject poverty with total denial of any ?Privilege? whatsoever! And just think of this, the same people who built a Mausoleum for Dr. Nkrumah (so that they can pretend to be what they are not ? an Nkrumahist), withdrew his wife?s (Fathia Nkrumah?s) diplomatic passport and effectually sent her packing to her native country, now demand that we forget everything that their chairman did or did not do, and let him enjoy our money and ?privileges?. To those who may have not yet been born and may be wondering why Dr. Limann was the only former Head of State alive during Rawlings time of office; the answer is that Rawlings killed all others before him (in 1979).

I hold no grudge against President Kufuor?s spirit of reconciliation and his willingness to forgive and rectify past mistakes. I think that?s a good trait in a leader. And I know, it is that spirit that moved him to restore Fathia Nkrumah?s diplomatic passport and place her on government subvention, whereby the wife of Ghana?s first President who also led us to Independence obtains a decent monthly allowance from us. I also know that it?s with pain that the President withdrew the Foreign Ministry?s assistance to Rawlings for securing visas for Victor Smith, etc inspite of Rawlings? outrageous and nonsensical charges against the President?s Administration. But the timing of this reversal of the withdrawal of ?privileges? was very poor! It stole the the limelight from the NDC. The negative limelight that is!

Their incompetence also provided another opportunity for the NDC to make more noises and disturb our peace. So I?ll like to beg of the PR folks at the Castle to ? if for nothing at all, for Christ?s sake ? save us from NDC noises, by preventing nother faux pas in the future. Gracias

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Kwamena, Ato