Opinions Sun, 20 Dec 2009

Shenanigans of a Johnny-Just-Come

This write up is my reaction to a story I read on 11.12.09 on “modernghana” website titled: “Koku Anyidoho In Trouble.” I have struggled with a title for this write –up. Initially, I titled it: Notoriety of a Political Buffoon. That did not go down well with me. I changed it to; The Idiocy of an Attention Seeking Nonentity. Then again, I thought about changing it to: Ramblings of a Schizo-Affective Personality. After a while, I finally settled on; Shenanigans of a Johnny-Just-Come. I could go on to justify why I chose any of the above titles but I will probably leave that for another time. For now though, I will try to explain my choice of the title: Shenanigans of a Johnny just come.

As stated earlier stated, I am compelled by the comments by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Koku Anyidoho on opposition members of parliament to write this piece. In his unwarranted and unprovoked attack, he described the Minority Members of Parliament as “irresponsible lot who are bellicose, whimsical and capricious.” Suffice to say that, I am not the mouth piece of the minority in parliament yet, I am obliged as a Ghanaian to defend our constitution, our institutions of democracy and most importantly, the august body of parliament. One need not be a rocket scientist to understand that, for our democracy to succeed, we need everyone, including the Anyidohos of today, to acknowledge the sacrosanctity of the legislature. Koku Anyidoho has used his anachronistic position as the Communication Director at the Presidency to play the buffoon. That his position is anachronistic is not even contested by staunch NDC members and the only way he thinks he can make himself useful is to issue innuendoes against anyone whose “face” he “hates”. Why the president hasn’t reined-in such a muppet and clown of a Communications Director beggars belief. I am yet to hear one sensible word from him since being awarded his position. Koku looks my age or slightly older than I am and for him to exhibit such belligerence and lack of respect baffles my understanding. Not long ago, Koku was in the news for all the wrong reasons when he made his “I hate the face of Kuffuor” statement. I can say this for fact though that; Ghanaians do not drool when we see Koku Anyidoho’s face!?! I am not talking semantics here but since Koku earns his livelihood from working at the Presidency which the Ghanaian tax payer pays allegiance to, he is expected to show a modicum of respect to it and all past occupants. I am not asking Koku to fall in love with Kuffour, but for him to proclaim his hatred for the former President on national radio was tactless and crassly to say the least. I don’t like the utterances and postulations of former President Rawlings either but I do not “hate” his face. In truth, I do respect him as someone who could easily be my father and most importantly, as the former President of our beloved country. That is the beauty of democracy; we agree to disagree. Actually, I wouldn’t have commented on Koku’s previous misdemeanour if it hadn’t been his recent recalcitrance. Koku doesn’t seem to understand that even in his current employment where his job description is as hazy and foggy as the December harmattan weather, he is meant to accord respect and dignity to the arms of government. He arrogates so much importance to the fringe position he occupies and yet wants to drag the name of the legislature into disrepute.

Koku is reported to have referred to the Minority Members of parliament as “an irresponsible lot who are bellicose, whimsical and capricious” during a radio discussion. For Koku to show such gross disregard for former President Kuffuor and now the Minority makes me wonder if the man has any understanding of the democracy which has created a job for him even in this global “ecominc” crisis. In the said discussion, Koku is said to have been incensed by suggestions by Hon Opare Ansah (Minority Chief Whip) that President Mills could face impeachment in accordance with article 69 (1) of the 1992 Constitution if it is indeed established that the President rejected 2 “brown enveloped” intended to bribe him but failed to report the matter and the individuals involved to the police for prosecution. The above suggestion by Hon Opare Ansah was necessitated by Kwame Pianim’s statement that President Mills is incorruptible because he (Kwame Pianim) has observed the president reject 2 “brown envelops” intended to bribe him. Hon Opare Ansah’s argument is in line with the constitution. Any wise person with any understanding of democracy will understand the point Hon Opare Ansah was making. The emphasise in Opare Ansah’s statement is on the word “could”. I do believe that Ghanaians want a vibrant opposition that is adept with the dictates of the constitution and on top of events. So much capital has been made of the so called ‘honesty’ and ‘incorruptible’ character of President Mills. Kwame Pianim’s story if it’s true, is the litmus test the President should have passed with flying colours to confirm his credentials as the “honest” and “incorruptible” man who could be trusted to fight corruption. The main issue is, up to this point, the Presidency has neither confirmed nor denied Mr Pianim’s assertion and silent, they say, means consent”. That should have been Koku’s concern. For Koku, the Communications Director to say that the incident probably happened before Prof Mills became the President is neither here nor there. Bribery or attempted bribery is a crime and it is expected of every Ghanaian to report it wherever one encounters it. The President was once a tax-law professor and vice-President of the Republic. I would not expect anything less from anyone in any one of the above positions. If we even assume that the attempted bribery as revealed by Kwame Pianim took place when the President was a professor at Legon but failed to do the simple task of reporting the matter to the Police, then he failed Mother Ghana and surely the entire citizenry; prominent amongst them, the students he taught at the time. The other 2 scenarios are even more worrying, that is if the attempted bribery took place when professor Mills was the Vice President or in his current position as the President but failed to act. This is the albatross Kwame Pianim, in his desperate attempt to sing the praise of the President has ended up hanging on the latter’s neck. And this is the matter Koku Anyidoho, the Director of Communications at the Presidency should be arguing out with maturity, tactfulness and sound reasoning.

To me, Koku’s description of the Minority Members of Parliament as “an irresponsible lot who are bellicose, whimsical and capricious” is and affront on our democracy. Unsurprisingly amateurish and typical of his character, he sounded his usual bullish and infantile self without being convincing. In his response to Hon Opare Ansah’s suggestion that the President could face impeachment for failing to report the alleged attempted bribery, he insulted the Minority and also “launched a vitriolic attack on the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.” It was even reported that Koku “threatened” one Shamima Muslim, “a broadcast journalist at the Citi FM when she cautioned him to mind his language.” Talk of one being “bellicose, whimsical and capricious.” huh!! Koku was not even ashamed to threaten a female presenter for daring to remind him, a whole Communications Director at the Presidency to be mindful of his choice words in describing members of the legislature! A case of a communications director who can’t communicate. I have never seen someone robe himself in so much glory in an irrelevant position as Koku Anyidoho. This guy is so arrogant and swollen-headed that he thinks he is probably even more important than the vice President. Speaking of Hon Opare Ansah, Koku had the following to say: “…I speak categorically that irresponsible people like him will not lead the President down an irresponsible path.” Koku went on further to state that; “The fact that people like Opare Ansah have gone and sat down and are making this irresponsible statement does not mean that President Mills, having the gotten the mandate of 23 to 24 million Ghanaians to build a better Ghana, should come and respond to this level of irresponsibility.” No Koku, you are wrong! That Prof Mills is the President for all Ghanaians is an undeniable fact. But to say that the President has the mandate of “23to 24 million Ghanaians” is not true. It’s not every Ghanaian that voted for the President but in a multi-party democracy like ours, the needs and concerns of the minority must be addressed. In any case, being the President doesn’t mean that Prof Mills cannot be questioned by parliament if the occasion demands it. The President, I believe acknowledges this and therein lies Koku’s naivety.

Koku further retorted that “… with people like Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Opare Ansah in Parliament, we have a question to answer and President Mills will hear but will not pay attention to the bellicose, whimsical and capricious irresponsibility of Opare Ansah and his lot.” Koku’s belligerence is further evidenced when he said that, “…we are telling Opare Ansah and co that they better get ready, this their irresponsibility, their bellicosity is nonsense and I use word, nonsense again.” I don’t know if the last statement was meant as a threat or not. What is evident though is that, after 12 months, Koku is still a political greenhorn. That is what one gets when one creates jobs for the boys not on competence but on sentiment. Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Hon Opare Ansah and the entire Minority caucus are individuals who have served their respective constituencies, their region and Ghana in various capacities. I believe that was why their constituents voted for them to be their representatives in Parliament. Hon Kyei-Mensah-Osei (Minority Leader) for example is in his 4th consecutive term in parliament and that alone is an achievement Koku cannot measure to in any way. These are honourable men and women who at least, have a certain portion of the Ghanaian populace to be accountable to. Which area in Ghana does Koku represent? Koku is where he is now on the benevolence of the President. In fact, the “Communications Director at the Presidency” job has been created for Koku by the President in acknowledgement of the former’s father’s association to the NDC. In simple terms, Koku has no political track record, not even in NDC. Koku is merely a Johnny-just come whose stock in trade is over-harp on his own importance to the point of boring his listeners.

There are 3 things I want Koku to learn to do which I think will stand him and the presidency in good stead. Firstly, Koku should learn how to address our leaders (this includes Minority in Parliament, the opposition parties, former President Kuffour and anyone who has an opposing view to his.) with respect. That is the only way to earn the respect that he craves so much for himself. Secondly, Koku should learn to reason and string convincing arguments together rather than the hocus-pocus he has been known to gobble out so frequently. Lastly, humility does pay. It is imperative Koku learns to show humility to the high and low in society whether or not he agrees with them. If Koku thinks he has made it, I want to tell him that he hasn’t! Koku is only a green horn and a political toddler. He should learn to walk before he runs. His antics are but those of a Johnny-just-come. He should grow up and quickly too else, his young political carrier will end before it has started.

Countrymen and women! Another year has ended and I will like to take this opportunity to wish my readers (including those who send abusive mails and those who write to encourage me) “Merry Christmas and a Prosperous new Year!” You are all lovely people in your diversity. Let’s meet again in 2010 and discuss issues about our country passionately and objectively. God bless you all and God bless Ghana!!!

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi