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What we are ignoring about the ‘Osafo Maafo’ Tape

Thu, 5 Mar 2015 Source: Ohemeng, Yaw

Up till about Monday, March 2, I was treating the so-called Osafo Maafo leaked tape as one of the usual underhand Ghanaian political tactics. We have been treated to the ‘Kofi Jumah’, ‘Kofi Adams’, ‘Akufo Addo’, and ‘John Mahama’ tapes, so what is new? However, since a despicable article written by Eric Ametor Quarmine and posted on Ghanaweb (Ref. NPP’s tribal bigotry will kill us, Monday 2 March 2015) and the demonstration organised by a group calling itself Coalition for the Defence of Equal Citizen (CODEC), silence is an ill-afford option.

The first thing we have failed to appreciate is where the meeting took place and the nature of the meeting. We are told that this was a strategy meeting of the NPP at Koforidua. Why would a political party contract someone to record the meeting of a rival party and is this the route we want our politics to travel? Worse still, if the party in government can bug the meetings of its closest rival, where will this stop? What resources are they employing and is the citizen safe from such a government when they are ready to roll out a new Interconnect Clearing House system where they can listen in into any mobile conversation?

I think Ghanaians have not thought about this. So, instead of joining the chorus of condemning Hon. Osafo Maafo, we should be more apprehensive about the implications of having a government that can intrude on the privacy of a rival political party.

Anyone who has been to a strategy meeting in any field knows that discussions at such meetings are very frank. What is important is what is adopted out of such meetings. In my line of work, I often attend strategy meetings where we consider the mitigation of risks that our operations pose to public safety. We employ a principle called ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Practicable) in our considerations. This informs us as to the extent to which we go to mitigate these risks. As an example we may consider to spend £1m to put in measures to save ten lives but we may consider it not ALARP to spend £100m to save the same number. This is more or less evaluating human life in terms of pounds. If the public were to know such considerations at such meetings, one can imagine the uproar that would greet decisions.

Strategy meetings are held by all political parties. For one of them to spy on such meetings of others is despicable. We should be bold to condemn this act. The 1992 Constitution gives all political parties the freedom to operate. If a government uses operatives serving at the Presidency to carry out this spying mission, it is constructively pursuing a one-party state.

Apart from seeking to reap political capital, are the NDC really concerned about tribalism? How many policies have they rolled out to achieve equity in how amenities are distributed around the country or how different ethnic groups are treated in their bid to obtain work in the public sector? What legislation have they sent to Parliament to outlaw incitement to tribal hatred, if that is what they are seeking to condemn?

Has anyone considered for a second whether what Mr Osafo Maafo is claiming about the tape being doctored is perchance true? How many people have actually listened to the tape before condemning him? Assuming that tape is authentic, what is trailed in the Press bears no resemblance to the content.

The speaker was charging his audience not to ignore the five regions with the bulk of Ghana’s resources. No region is composed of predominantly one ethnic group, so what is the fuss about? He did not mention a tribe or ethnic group; neither did he ask the audience to attack anybody from another tribe. He just used what pertains to German politics to illustrate why regions with resources cannot be ignored.

When he called for regions with resources to have a say in its management, what is wrong about that? Who is bearing the brunt of the environmental devastation wreaked by Galamasey? If the people in those areas have a say in the management of these resources, would they have experienced that devastation? Why do we think the chiefs of Western region asked that the energy minister should come from their region? It was principally to safeguard against the negative impacts of the oil exploration and to make sure that they enjoy any positive spinoffs. Why did the NDC oblige this request and not condemn it?

In all these the group that ought to be criticised strongly is the gullible Ghanaian Press. They know the ‘authenticity deficit’ of these so-called leaked tapes, yet they offer themselves as willing tools in the political machinations of political parties. When such tapes come out, it ought to be asked whether or not they are ‘doctored’. The technology exists. Therefore before these tapes are aired, some degree of authenticity should be established, especially when someone’s reputation is at stake.

Was this current tape doctored? I have no doubt that it was. There are mainly two methods of producing such tapes. One is to record the voice of a different person who is good at imitating voices and then manipulating the recording to make it sound authentic. That was what happened in the case of the ‘Kofi Jumah’ tape which was ‘outdoored’ on the eve of the second round voting of 2008.

The other method is known as “copy and paste,” or ‘slicing’ which can be done to any digitally recorded sound. It involves an amalgamation of different parts cropped from the same or previous speeches. For this to work the pitch levels of the words are normalized and their frequencies synchronized and modulated. I believe that this was what happened in the case of the ‘Osafo Maafo’ tape.

So unlike the sanctimonious commentators, I have analysed the tape. I accessed mine from the Graphic Online site (http://graphic.com.gh/audios/39139-the-leaked-osafo-maafo-tape-audio.html). The sliced point is at 1.03’ (i.e. 1.03 minutes into the recording). The voice is heard saying “virtually na ayñ…..” and without pause it is followed by “Asantefoõ nhu sñ….”. The naked ear can pick the unnatural flow of the speech without any instrumentation. If it was a continuation: it would have started as “Enti Asantefoõ nhu sñ….” This is how Twi is spoken when predicated on an earlier assertion.

It is shameful that for political expediency these charlatans who have failed to provide solutions to Ghana’s problems would gravitate to such lowly depths, which has the potential to plunge the country into anarchy. They have followed it up with demonstrations. They offer them an escape from the haplessness they have shown in confronting the nation’s problems. They have been given enormous powers by Ghanaian voters to deliver. Had they done that they would not need these tactics. It is unwarranted.

Ghana must rise again!

Dr Yaw Ohemeng

Columnist: Ohemeng, Yaw