Feature Article of Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea
By Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.
Since this question was first posed, the NPP in an apparent conspiracy of silence with Nana Akufo-Addo, have served Ghanaians with anything but a true and honest answer to the question. The reactions have ranged from blatant lies, subterfuge, chicanery, circumlocution, and even plain comedy, whilst “officially”, Akufo-Addo continues to arrogantly dismiss such a serious matter with “the contempt that it deserves”!
According to Mr. Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, in a news report sub-titled, “Baako smells mischief”, we read, “Editor in Chief of New Crusading Guide newspaper Abdul Malik Kweku Baako who was also on the programme, said "the CV thing is mischief that is to claim that Nana was dismissed for smoking wee". According to Baako, the group had for the past four years been trying without success to get information from the institution bordering on the exact reason why Nana truncated his course at Oxford.”
What this simply means is that here is a credible witness, telling Ghanaians that, at least for the past four years some Ghanaians have been asking a pertinent question that has been falling on the deaf ears of Akufo-Addo and his NPP! Why have they not been able to answer a simple question for a good four years? That is not all. Some of the answers publicly provided on live radio and TV panel discussions have included, “Nana Addo never went to Oxford; he never got admission or applied to go to Oxford”!
Mr. Kofi Ata whose request for information under Freedom of Information of Act from Oxford University established the fact that indeed, Mr William Addo Dankwa AKUFO-ADDO was a member of the University ,” was motivated by such a strong denial, on the one hand, and the curiosity engendered by the allegations put forward by a member of the communication team of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Felix Kwaye Ofosu, that “the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) flag-bearer’s refusal to make public his academic performance in Oxford University gives credence to rumours that he (Nana) was sacked from the institution for smoking marijuana.”
After four good years, all we know is that Nana Addo, who was then Mr William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, “was a member of the University (and of New College) during the 1962/63 academic year. ” It is instructive that after years of dead silence and blatant lies, a few days after this conclusive revelation from Oxford University, we read, “A former Presidential Spokesperson, Kwabena Agyei Agyapong has confirmed that the NPP flagbearer Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo enrolled into Oxford University in the United Kingdom, but failed to complete his course there.”
The only thing that this did was to correct the previous lies that, “For a fact Nana Addo never went to Oxford; he never got admission or applied to go to Oxford. It is his father who went to Oxford”. Besides that he did not give more information than what we knew already. What I find so frustrating about this simple issue is not the fact that Nana Addo was a member of Oxford University in the 1962/63 academic year in New College, and studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, according to Chryss Jenny:
“Mr Akufo-Addo had his early schooling in Accra and then went to the UK to attend Holmewood House Prep School before going to Lancing College. According to university records, Mr Akufo-Addo went up to Oxford University in 1962. However, he is not listed as graduating. According to the Degree Conferrals Office he attended New College in 1962/63 to study PPE. However the office did not provide any further information about his time at Oxford or about why no degree is recorded.” (See: “Ghana politics and Oxford PPE”, Feature Article of Thursday, 22 November 2012).
Interestingly enough we still know next to nothing about the real circumstances under which Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made his exit from the university. And the man who wants to be our President is not saying anything about it! We have so far not even got a single journalist to get an interview with Nana to explain all these mystery surrounding his unexplained exit from Oxford which is allegedly being linked to a habit of drug abuse! One even wonders whether or not he is really campaigning or just waiting to lose in order to cry foul! “All die be die at all cost”!
If he really respects the Ghanaian voter, it should not be too difficult to explain the circumstances under which he left Oxford in 1962. After all, anyone who wants to be our President needs to have our confidence and trust, and attempts at cover-ups in general do not help the needed trust to win elections. So, unless he has something serious to hide, why has Nana Akufo-Addo allowed this story to fester and grow to such an extent that it is undermining people's confidence if he is a man whom you could simply trust. A serious candidate who has nothing to hide from the public whose trust he is demanding would try to be as transparent and truth-telling as possible.
What we have seen so far from the Akufo-Addo camp has been nothing but lies and arrogant and empty contempt to throw any light on the matter. What is he trying to hide? Why was it so important to even lie about it? Why is everybody ready to admit his entry into the university and everyone is less than laconic about his exit? And what does Nana Akufo-Addo mean when he dismisses this “with the contempt that it deserves”? He must not forget that as a Presidential candidate, it is the prerogative of the electorate to decide what to dismiss with contempt, and what not to dismiss with contempt. It is clearly not his if there is a public interest in how long he has been smoking marijuana for example. Has he stopped smoking marijuana, if indeed, it was the smoking of marijuana that is actually responsible for his premature exit from Oxford?
It beats my imagination that any seasoned politician could miss this simple point. The public surely has a right to know! And arrogantly dismissing this with contempt is a bit awkward on the part of a candidate campaigning to form a transparent government. There is an Akan saying, “Twaserkwa se obema wo ntama a, tsie ne dzin,” Not sure of the translation a friend recently proffered to me: “If a 419 politician promises you free SHS, ask for his name!” How can a person who is not even transparent about his own educational records promise a transparent government? How can we trust a Presidential candidate in a competitive election such as this, who stubbornly refuses to divulge information the Sovereign people are asking before they vote with “contempt”?
I just saw some speculations on Ghanaweb predicting a pre-mature end of these series. I simply wondered why? Are we any more wiser than the simple confirmation concerning his entry and nothing whatsoever about “the exit question”? Reading through the correspondence between Oxford University, what came out flagrantly was the culture of stone-walling such requests. This reluctance goes beyond the issue of data retention to the reputation of the University, perhaps, as an elite-friendly university. In these days of economic crisis everywhere, it is probably understandable to keep a reputation that encourages the elites to continue to send their ward!
Well, of course, I deeply hope this were not so, and doubt that what I am describing above, purely out of frustration with the paucity of information that helps to bring the matter to a full closure. Apart from the reluctance, near-hostility, to provide information that is patently of public interest, the information provided is so cleverly crafted in such a manner that if it later came out to be false, they could always blame it on human error! Notice that they are legally telling Mr. Ata, that the search they conducted was on “Akofo Addo”, and not the “Akufo-Addo” that we all know:
“Where third party personal data has been requested and we do not hold the data, I do not consider it to be a breach of data protection principles to reveal that fact. We have searched our archives and found no record to indicate that Mr Akofo-Addo was expelled by the University. We have now complied fully with this part of your request.”
Of course, if you search for “Akofo Addo” you are most likely not to find anyone with that name in Oxford's records! To prove my point, I did a google search with all the different commutations of Nana Akufo-Addo's name. It is something everyone can do. The results are very different each time there is a variation in the name. What this means is that even if the mistake is not deliberate, what we have is a useless document charged with "plausible deniability" based on human error! Our Presidential candidate is not called Akofo Addo! See the following search results for yourself and notice the differences:
Search results for “Mr Akofo-Addo” :About 7,400 results (0.39 seconds)
Search results for “Mr Akufo-Addo:” 60 personal results. 1,860,000 other results.
Search results for Mr William Akufo-Addo :5 personal results. 18,300 other results.
Search results for Mr William Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo : 5 personal results. 5,810 other results.
Search results for Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo: 60 personal results. 148,000 other results.
Search results for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo: 50 personal results. 471,000 other results.
Nana Akyea Mensah refuses to be fooled by these gimmicks. The one who must come out and tell Ghanaians what is going on is not Oxford University. Is Oxford University a flag-bearer in this country? The only person Ghanaians want to hear from is no other person than Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo. I hope he hurries up and do it, because it seems to me that I am beginning to feel that we have a candidate who is probably more arrogant and opaque than we even originally thought to be the case. Arrogance and opacity is the miasma under which all kinds of crimes are committed without any accountability. It baffles me greatly that Akufo-Addo has still not thought it fit to say something about this before it is too late!
Enough of those cries that if Nana Addo clears his throat and speak to these serious allegations, explaining the circumstances under which he was removed or removed himself from Oxford University, it will cause the value of the cedi to fall! Our food will not run away from our tables as Sir John will have us believe, simply because Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo is trying to be a little bit honest with Ghanaians. Enough of the charade of “contempt” and wake up and smell the coffee! You dare not dismiss an electorate whose votes you need with “contempt” unless you have “other means” outside our democracy to impose yourself on Ghanaians!