Opinions Tue, 2 Sep 2014

Dr. Mensa Otabil And The Sada Guinea Fowls

Many people have come to see Dr. Mensa Otabil as an educator extraordinaire and an influential force of reason in our country. Love him or hate him, you cannot take his influence away. I have listened him since 1992 when my wife first took me to his church which was then at the Baden Powel Memorial Hall. He preaches with an exceptional sense of originality and his ability to eke life-changing lessons out of the most mundane biblical verses is yet to be matched by any other preacher I know of. I mean he talks sense with originality.

Do you remember the SADA boss under whose watch the guinea fowls produced by the organization were said to have disappeared? Is it Gilbert Iddi? Do you also know that he may just be in line to receive the august National Award – the Order of the Volta, for the disappearance of the guinea fowls? You heard me right.

The award is meant to reward him for his stellar contribution to conflict prevention in Ghana. After the SADA guys produced the guinea fowls, they remembered how one guinea fowl sparked a tribal war in the north some years ago. Their conflict prevention antenna went up. They reasoned that if one guinea fowl living alone could spark a tribal war, then a platoon of guinea fowls living together could orchestrate a coup d’etat that could destabilize the country. They also thought that a coup d’etat in Burkina Faso would be better than one in Ghana so they encouraged the guinea fowls to fly across the border in order to preserve our peace.

Is Dr. Mensa Otabil becoming the proverbial guinea fowl, which at its meek best could still spark a war in the NDC? Tell me. Who doesn’t know in Ghana that we need a new leadership response to the country’s problems?

Otabil just repeated the obvious and it was one of the few times that he stated what did not require any special wisdom to say. That we need a new leadership response is known to my twelve-year old nephew who barely scrapped through his JHS1 third term exams and has only been listed as a probationary JHS2 student for the incoming academic year. If my nephew who is struggling to make sense out of lessons involving Tetteh Quarshie and Komfo Anokye, even knows that Ghana needs a new leadership response, why do the government communicators want to make the statement appear as if it was a Dr. Mensa Otabil copyright?

Was the pastor then being populist? Of course it is legitimate to ask that if the pastor was not being populist, why didn’t he make any concrete suggestions as to the type and form this proposed new leadership response should take.

Yes the pastor did not proffer any concrete solutions because it would be unwise for him to do so publicly. I will tell you why. The Ghana Cedi for instance continues to depreciate daily against international trading currencies not because the economic circumstances that are the root causes of the depreciation are getting worse daily. The speculative behaviors triggered by the total loss of confidence in the government’s ability to solve the problem have become the biggest driver of the free fall of our currency.

If I was wise enough to make the list of the elite club of the V8 zooming advisors of the president, what I would suggest would be for the president to invite the renowned pastor to the Flagstaff House to discuss the specific recommendations he may have about what the new response should be. If the pastor has any real and practical recommendations, he will share it with the government. If he was just making a populist empty noise, it will also show. If the latter turns out to be the case or he refuses to show up, then the so called unofficial government communicators may have a legitimate basis to take him on.

The tried and tested rule-of-thumb short term response to such crisis is to fire and hire. Although it may mean sacrificing some individuals for the common good, it gives a strong first signal that something is being done about the situation. But the pastor cannot publicly tell the president to fire the holders of portfolio A, B and C if he believes this is what will win back the confidence of the people. He can also not publicly tell the president to bring Martin Amidu back as Attorney General. He does not need to explain in front of the cameras how no other action by the presidency can buy the amount of goodwill that restoring Martin Amidu to his former position will immediately do for the government. But will the president have the balls to do it? His own people with tainted hands would chew him up even if his own hands are clean.

All the reshuffles that have taken place so far appear to be cosmetic with the possible exception of the late realization of the need to get Spio to better piss from within. So long as confidence in the system remains low, people will continue to speculate under the cheer-leadership of Dr. Bawumia who has been at his doom mongering best over the last few months.

If I had the chance to get anywhere close to Dr. Bawumia, I would whisper into his ears that wherever the exchange rate reaches before he comes to power, he cannot bring it down. It is therefore not in his interest for things to get out of hand before he comes. We would like to see him hit the ground running in delivering on his party’s promises. We the same people who are hailing him today will not accept extended periods of excuses for not making good on his promises. It will thus be in our collective interest for him to change his doom mongering strategy which only contributes to making things worse. He should in the name of Allah stop adding turbo chargers to the speculative engine of our economic woes.

The president, on his part, has a choice to make between buying the goodwill of the people for himself or selling it to his successor. He can choose to buy himself the goodwill by firing those who need to be fired now, not tomorrow. He can also choose to keep them to perpetuate the low confidence syndrome until he himself gets fired by the people in 2016 for the goodwill to automatically enure to the benefit of his successor. The choice is his. He should therefore tell his communicators in no uncertain terms to leave Dr. Mensa Otabil alone! Unlike the SADA guinea fowls, the pastor will not fly over to Burkina Faso today or tomorrow!

Mathias Dorfe


Columnist: Dorfe, Mathias