Feature Article of Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Columnist: Matthew Osei
Highly respected man of God, Pastor Mensa Otabil, lashed out at the surrogates of President John Mahama who he claims have spliced his old messages together out of context. Pastor Otabil is the General Overseer of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), one of the largest congregations in Ghana.
The disputed audio of the Pastor’s voice is allegedly criticizing the New Patriotic Party’s free SHS policy. On Monday, Pastor Otabil roundly rejected these claims saying, “My voice and sermons have been sampled, spliced and manipulated to appear to take a political position on a very heated political issue.”
“But for the mischief and persistence, I would have remained quiet over this matter. Let me state clearly that the sound bites that have been played with my voice have been taken totally out of context. This is defamatory. It is unethical. It is criminal. It is malicious. It is Machiavellian and it is evil,” the livid pastor stated. “It is a violation of my person and my integrity.”
The most misleading issue is that Pastor Otabil was speaking very generally in the messages he spoke about to his flock. He did not criticize or name any politician or party directly. He only mentioned that taxes will be used to pay for SHS, which Nana Akufo-Addo has correctly said are revenues already in the current budget.
The second clip used contained the Pastor’s words allegedly claiming that if something is free, then it must be of low quality. The spirit of these comments directly contradicts the previous audio clip in that this statement is very general, asking people to question things that are given away for free when the previous clip is saying that SHS would not be free. The operatives of John Mahama dishonestly seized upon this jump of logic to support their boss’s campaign propaganda, which suggests, incorrectly, that free education and quality education are mutually exclusive.
Nana Akufo-Addo has made it clear that this is not a question of resources but of leadership and priorities. Ghana does in fact have the money to pay to build the schools, buy the books, and hire the teachers needed to provide education that is at once free and of quality.
This simple logic is lost on the NDC henchmen, already headed into a tailspin after Pastor’s Otabil’s strong rebuke. Already this week, Tony Aidoo, head of policy and evaluation for the current NDC government and staffer for John Mahama’s presidential campaign, viciously responded to Pastor Otabil’s rebuttal of the audio taken out of context saying, “It is unfortunate that his so-called words of wisdom have been caught up in the debate and rightly so. Why should he blame anybody? ?“Nobody asked him to come and present himself and his image to Ghanaians as a man of wisdom. If you have done that, you will have no private ownership of the things you have said.”
He further attacked him by accusing him of deceiving his flock and using scripture to make money saying, ““Is he not using the words of Jesus Christ to make money, to build congregations, is he not?,” and “I don’t think he has integrity.”
It is clear that John Mahama is the one that has no integrity. Instead of coming out himself and responding like a gentleman, he sends one of his henchmen to attack this noble, honest man on his behalf. There has been no comment from Mahama personally. Instead, he hides in his ivory tower away from public scrutiny, perhaps hoping that people will forget this appalling tactic used by his campaign.
The audio in question is clearly taken from separate messages years in the past, which have nothing to do with the current campaign. On December 7, Ghana will have a clear choice: John Mahama’s lackluster performance on education, or Nana Akufo-Addo’s free, quality SHS platform. Once the latter is inaugurated, the children of Ghana will have an ally that they can count on to deliver, without fees, quality education to them, by the Grace of God.