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General News of Thursday, 6 December 2012

Source: The Herald Newspaper

Beware of “Kyebi Mafia”

Political Maverick, Dr. Arthur Kennedy, who revealed the existence of the “Kyebi Mafia” in his book; “Chasing the Elephant Into The Bush: The Politics of Complacency” and warned Ghanaians to be cautious of a government of Nana Akufo-Addo and his men, who have been forced by circumstances to sing a different tune.

The respected medical doctor is not issuing conflicting statements as to who –President John Dramani Mahama and Nana Addo- stands a better chance to win the forthcoming elections.

From page 53 to 56 of the 173 –page book, Dr. Kennedy wrote about the “Kyebi Mafia”, saying “If they really care about him, as much I presume they do, they would adjust their behaviour accordingly, to make themselves and Nana Akufo-Addo more effective”.

The Akyem Mafia is believed to consist of Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Mr. Amfo Kwakye, Nana Akomea, Ken Ofori-Atta, Miss Ursula Owusu and Atta Akyea among others.

Nana Addo’s 2008 Director of Communication went on “it is surprising how often people say “The problem is not him. It is those over-educated, over-westernized, spoiled and arrogant Kyebi guys around him”. And by the way, some of the women in that family turn people off more than any of the men”.

Dr. Kennedy was to suffer from Nana Addo later in his composition of the NPP 2012 Campaign Team for the presidential election as the team was composed without him. Insiders say Nana Addo was very angry with what was written about his men, whom he believed had served him better than any other bloc within the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

For him, “It appears to me that the mafia must find a balance where the undoubted strengths can serve Nana Akufo-Addo without alienating people unnecessarily. There are some in that family whose parents, significant as they are would be better if deployed outside the public spotlight. Also, despite the undoubted abilities or they are, sometimes, too eager to cater to his whims rather than to set him straight. They must learn that the ultimate task of a political team is to make their principal more effective”.

Below; is what Dr. Kennedy wrote “Chasing the Elephant Into The Bush: The Politics of Complacency”. He started by saying “An account of this campaign will be incomplete without any discussion of the so-called “Kyebi Mafia’.

First, there were quite a few people in the mafia who did not hail from Kyebi. Secondly, there were differences within the “mafia”. Sometimes, they disagreed amongst themselves as vehemently as they did with outsiders. Sometimes, they undercut one another with a viciousness that they rarely showed to outsiders.

Third, many successful politicians have an inner circle, “kitchen cabinet” or “praetorian ground”. To call it a “mafia” makes it sound a little more pejorative and menacing than it was.

The idea of an inner circle has always existed in politics. It is reported that President Kennedy, who was always accused of being surrounded by an “Irish mafia” once asked someone who was not Irish to serve in his cabinet and the person said “no”.

When the President-elect asked why, the guy said “because the Irish mafia around you would eat me alive”. The President smiled. “Do you know I want you to join my administration?” “No sir,” he replied.

“Well” said the President, “to protect me from them”.

It is very impressive that Nana Akufo-Addo has a large family and associates who are all so eager to help realize his political ambitions. They should be commended for their interest in him and in politics.

It is obvious that many in his family have very impressive credentials and talents. The likes of Ken Ofori-Atta and Nana Bediatuo, to mention just a few are very gifted.

Indeed, it would be tragic to deprive him of such talent because it comes from his family. Just as Dr. Kwame Addo Kufour was such an undoubted asset to his brother, President Kufour, those with the requisite skills and talent must be encouraged to assist Nana Akufo-Addo. During the campaign, Ken Ofori Atta, to me was a very good sounding board and channel to pass information to the candidate. And so was Edward Akufo-Addo, known to many as BUMPTY.

I found that when “the family” was unhappy with me about one thing or the other Nana Ofori Atta was very good at relaying to me the concerns and taking back my perspectives. He was very honest and reliable person to deal with.

Some members of the family are exceptionally hardworking; Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko for instance, was one of the hardest working and gifted people I met in the campaign but he was sometimes very difficult to get along with.

He put in incredible hours towards the success of the campaign. He offended people with casual abandon and seemed to rub many people the wrong way. On the other hand, he was very loyal to people and to his staff.

I have no doubt that the family has the best intentions in whatever they do. However, sometimes, in the eagerness to serve Nana’s interest, they ruffle feathers, sometimes very badly and gratuitously.

Sometimes, in the case of some of them, their eagerness is always matched by tact and skills. Some of them have harmed his reputation with careless talk, about his intentions and about others.

It appears to me that “the mafia” must find a balance where the undoubted strengths can serve Nana Akufo-Addo without alienating people unnecessarily. There are some in that family whose parents, significant as they are would be better if deployed outside the public spotlight. Also, despite the undoubted abilities or they are, sometimes, too eager to cater to his whims rather than to set him straight. They must learn that the ultimate task of a political team is to make their principal more effective.

If they really care about him, as much I presume they do, they would adjust their behavior accordingly, to make themselves and Nana Akuffo Addo more effective. It is surprising how often people say “The problem is not him. It is those over-educated, over-westernized, spoiled and arrogant Kyebi guys around him”. And by the way, some of the women in that family turn people off more than any of the men.

Of course, the deployment of personnel is always the prerogative of a candidate. It is up to Nana Akufo-Addo to learn the strengths and weaknesses of those who desire to serve him and deploy them to his best advantage. As many politicians have learnt painfully, it pays, sometimes, to put competence ahead of loyalty and those who succeed, do this routinely. Ultimately, success in politics requires a judicious mixture of talents, loyalty and skilled team-building.

To get to the presidency, Nana must reach significantly beyond his family. I have no doubt that in the end, he will do whatever is necessary. Once, I was there when he addressed a complaint that one of the “mafia” had said something uncomplimentary about a very prominent politician. After berating the person for showing such bad judgment, he said wearily “You know whenever you do things like this, they blame me”.

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