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Opinions Sun, 9 Jun 2013

Reckless talk by politicians

Orangeburg, South Carolina.

7th June, 2013.

Even while our nation stumbles from crisis to crisis, some of our leaders continue to recklessly fan the flames of division.

In the last week, we have been hit, amongst others, by two very significant problems—the arrest of the Managing Director of the organization responsible for security at Kotoka International Airport, Sohin Security’s Solomon Adelaquaye in the US on suspicion of trafficking in drugs and the fire at the Makola Number 2 market in Accra. The former has dealt a significant blow to our claims that Ghana is not a drug haven while the latter has destroyed the hard-earned treasure of many hard-working Ghanaians.

These events should have evoked serious and sober pronouncements devoid of politics from our politicians but unfortunately that did not happen.

Since charity begins at home, let me begin with my friend, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, MP for Assin North, on the Sohin Security case. According to Okay fm, the MP “has suggested to the founding fathers of the NDC to undertake a rebranding exercise and name their party, NARCOTIC DEALERS’ CONGRESS since that name suits them best.” Elsewhere, the report continues that, “He posited that on a personal level, he knew Solomon Adelaquaye as a financier of the NDC.”

Wow, my brother!

Even if the arrested MD is convicted and it is proven that he is indeed a financier of the NDC, those two facts should not make the NDC a “narcotics party”. A sitting NPP Member of Parliament was arrested tried and convicted for dealing in drugs a few years ago in the United States but that did not make the NPP a drug party. Of course, in that case, it was the NDC that recklessly sought to blame the NPP for the criminal conduct of Mr. Amoateng. They were wrong then and Hon. Agyapong is wrong now.

Having began my charity at home; let me take on the Makola fire and NDC Chairman, Dr. Kwabena Adjei’s reckless and irresponsible claims. According to Ghanaweb, reporting on the 6th of June, 2013, “National Chairman of the NDC, Dr. Kwabena Adjei has accused elements within the New Patriotic Party of masterminding Tuesday’s fire outbreak at the Makola Number 2 market in Accra. Though Dr. Adjei could not drop any name to buttress his claim, he was emphatic that the NPP cannot absolve itself from blame.” The claim by Dr. Kwabena Adjei, in the name of the NDC is a very serious one. In effect, the Chairman of the ruling party, who sits in cabinet, is accusing the NPP of destroying the property of hundreds or maybe thousands of hardworking Ghanaians. This, of course, is not the first fire this year. According to Joy fm, “there have been six fire outbreaks in some major markets in Accra, including the Kantamanto, Makola Number 2, Agbogbloshie and the Dome markets, all in Accra as well as the Kumasi Central market in the Ashanti region.” Of course, the political burning of markets has happened before and this was under the AFRC Chairmanship of the man who founded Dr. Kwabena Adjei’s party, then Ft. Lt. Rawlings. Unlike those days, we now live under the rule of law. Therefore, nobody, regardless of who they are, should be able to destroy the property of law-abiding Ghanaians and go scot-free. Dr. Kwabena Adjei owes the victims of these fires, his government and indeed all Ghanaians an obligation to provide the names and the evidence linking the NPP elements to these fires. I should add that this is not the first time that Dr. Adjei has made irresponsible remarks. He made them about judges and then about some internal matters of the NDC.

It appears that increasingly, in the search for the adulation of extremists in their parties, our political leaders are sounding more outlandish by the day. In the process, the NPP and NDC seem bent on a perverse collaboration to convince the public, through reckless accusations that both parties are, in fact, criminal enterprises. When our major parties accuse each other of being corrupt, criminal or drug-infested, the public believes both of them. They are succeeding and that is unfortunate. Political parties are indispensable to our development and we must see them as national assets, worthy of our protection.

This week, the authoritative “ACCRA DAILY MAIL” editorialized that President Mahama has been quietly working to moderate and improve the image of the NDC and contrasted this to the NPP whose hand “seem to be firmly on the self-destruct button.” This is a signal moment. President Mahama and the NDC must show that the new NDC does not practice the politics of smear that used to define them by calling Dr. Kwabena Adjei to order. When the President stays silent while his party Chairman is accusing the major opposition party of crimes, he leaves reasonable people no option but to conclude that he agrees with his party Chairman. It is time for Dr. Adjei to become the responsible leader of the governing party rather than the equivalent of a serial caller making accusations on air.

The NPP must dissociate itself from Hon. Kennnedy Agyapong’s statement. The logic of making the NDC the “Narcotic Dealers Congress” would lend support to those who have been wrongfully branding our party, “The Narcotic Peddlers’ Party”. It is wrong and dangerous to our country when we make drugs a partisan issue. Drugs are too important to relegate to the realms of partisan politics. That is the alarm that I sounded in my book, “THE DRUG INVASION OF WEST AFRICA”.

Finally, I urge our media houses not to be accomplices by lending their platforms to those who peddle unsubstantiated accusations. It is wrong and unpatriotic. Let the National Media Commission hold media houses accountable and let the public change their dials when politicians start spewing garbage on our airways.

Let us move forward, together.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina