By: Ebo Quanshah
It looked more like a Communist stage-managed event to appease the overlord than an encounter with the media. Questions were mundane and most of the answers from the highest office in the land, had very little bearing on the truth.
If ever there was a media encounter with the President that failed to fly, this was it. Last Friday’s meeting premised to begin the Presidential year of action, failed to ignite the passion needed to convince Ghanaians that this head of state is finally warming up to the task.
One irony of the kind of the media encounter was Prof. Atta Mills starting with a joke that his good friend Ebo Quansah had written about the media taking him hostage, and yet failing to notice that his good friend was conspicuously absent at the event. It is sad to relate that as an editor, and one of the most senior in the profession in this country, I was not invited to be part of the mid-morning event.
I had predicted on E-Tv on Thursday that I was not going to be invited. I did not disappoint myself. I was not invited. With Koku Anyidoho taking charge of the invitation, I surely was not going to make it to the Castle, for the first time since the Atta Mills Government took centre stage on January 7, 2009.
I do not think I regret anything. If at all, the Friday event only succeeded in confirming the notion that this administration is not on very good terms with truth. The President could not even bring himself to admit that at a point in time, his health was not the very best.
He told his audience of 70 selected newsmen and women, and millions of countrymen glued to their television and radio sets that apart from a nasal problem, which had affected the sound of his voice, he has never had much by way of problems with his health.
In life, no one is under any obligation to answer questions put to him. In the United States, for instance, officials failing to answer questions put to them would plead the Fifth Amendment. In this land of our birth, there is no such amendment to plead.
I suppose that informed the Presidential answers on Friday. Like most Ghanaians, I thought it was in his own interest to be candid on his health, at least.
When the two Presidential palms have taken on the features of those of a professional hair dyer, those whose activities were responsible for the indigenous people of Accra coining the description ‘Yoomo Be Ga’, one would have thought that the Head of State would have been more candid to those who voted for him to occupy Government House.
It is not a million years away when the President’s own appointed Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa went public to state that the charcoal-looking palms were the result of medication applied by Presidential physicians. I do not believe treatment of nasal disorder could translate into black hands.
Unless the President is seeing images of Ghanaians from distorted mirrors at the Castle, he would not fail to recall that in the run-up to the 2008 elections, he was on admission at a hospital in South Africa. The disease that sent him to ‘Mandela land’ has still not been disclosed.
Some of us are aware though, that the bills presented, so overwhelmed the then Presidential candidate that he had to be bailed out by a very prominent Ghanaian. It surely was more problematic than the nasal disorder he told the nation about.
Someone said the other day that truth is like noses, everyone has his own. But to continue to blame the Kufuor Government for the untold hardship the Presidential mal-administration has visited on Ghanaians two years after taking office, would not fly.
The Akans would tell you: ‘Se Wontumi Wo Neama A, Wose Wo Kahyire Nnye. It is difficult to translate this wise saying into the Queens language. The simple reason is that the white man or woman never carries load on the head and, therefore, has no word for the cloth we curl to support the load. Literally, it means one could not blame others for problems he or she has created.
There was an Animal Farm notion to the media encounter. Like the Animals schooled by Napolean’s aides to understand that it was in their own interest to suffer initially, we are being told by the Head of State himself, that it is in our own interest to suffer to the extent of not affording to cater for the home. Now we know who we are dealing with.
This administration continues to pat its back for phantom figures churned out day and night about the economy. The other day, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng was asking whether Ghana is still in the Middle Income bracket we joined while we all slept not too long ago. The heart surgeon is still waiting for an answer.
I thought President Atta Mills was given a nice opportunity to apologise to Ghanaians for failing to fulfill his campaign promises of reducing fuel prices drastically, and failing to put money in our pockets. His reply to the question as to whether or not he would apologise to Ghanaians for hiking prices of petroleum, when he had promised on the campaign trail to reduce prices drastically, merely succeeded in rubbing salt into our wounds.
By suggesting that it was the New Patriotic Party that should rather apologise to the nation for the petrol prices hike, the President was exhibiting insensitivity to the plight of hard-up nationals.
If that was unsatisfactory, it is difficult to rationalize President Atta Mills’ answer to the question of what to do with the situation in La Cote D’Ivoire. In one breath, Ghana would go with the ECOWAS decision, which is to remove Laurent Gbagbo by force of Arms if he fails to abdicate. In another breadth, Ghana should not be seen to be taking sides.
His long lecture on why Ghana could not send troops to fight alongside ECOWAS forces, if and when it becomes necessary, cannot be a mark of a courageous leadership. At the end of the day, Ghana has committed itself to the ECOWAS mission.
It cannot be true that as a result of the few Ghanaian soldiers serving with the United Nations in that country, this nation could not raise more troops to bring peace to our next door neighbours. It tells everything about the indecisiveness that is eating at the heart of governance in this country.
I have all along nursed the feeling that the problems facing sports promotion, since the former law lecturer took charge of Government House, have been the result of hawks within the Mills administration bullying officials in sports promotion, at the blind side of the President. But for the Head of State to tell the nation that the Ghana Olympic Committee does not have two different Presidents, is a plain matter of being economical with the truth. There are two GOCs with two Presidents.
President John Evans Atta Mills cannot claim to be unaware that Prof. Francis Dodoo, recently described in an official letter to Parliament as a Special Aide to the President, and who was also a member of his Transitional Team, is holding himself as President of a faction of the Ghana Olympic Committee, while the B.T. Baba-led GOC is the functional national committee.
It is a shame that at a time that a person with inside knowledge of sports promotion in this country is occupying the Castle, all aspects of sports developments in the county is being deliberately brought down from official circles.
President Mills’ answer to the question on the Castle’s botched attempt to force Abedi Pele on the Ghana Football Association is unfortunate, to state the least. At what point in time did the Head of State realize that he had been misled? Why was the Castle forcing the issue long after the matter had been settled to the knowledge of the Castle?
What is happening to the Ghana Football Association under the guidance of President Atta Mills is very disgraceful. GFA officials are plainly being witch-hunted. As you read this piece, the Economic and Orgainzed Crime Office has written to sponsors of football, demanding detailed information of sponsorship packages.
When The Chronicle broke the story last week, certain radio stations being used by agents of this administration to do their dirty jobs went into overdrive discrediting the story. But I can assure them that I have documents to that effect. At the appropriate time, I would make them public.
I am sorry, but the President cut a pathetic figure in his phantom answers to the mundane questions put to him. The only question that I think he answered with some credibility is the notion that he would not regret being a one-term head of state.
From all indications, he is on the slippery road to that unenviable record. The jury is still out on whether his maker would look upon his four years as worthy of his trial and tribulation.
By the way, who is a cat hunter? In the next analysis, I intend to examine the Presidential answer to the witch-hunt perpetrated against the Chief Justice, not too long ago.