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Opinions of Saturday, 6 August 2011

Columnist: Hayford, Kwesi Atta-Krufi

Of such is the NDC and their leader

Politics of Insults is the new terminology rearing its ugly head in the Mills-Mahama Action Year and the question that the population is asking is whether this has a place in our body politic and where is the origin of this ugly phenomenon. The politics of insults has become so predominant that if the news is not of that nature, then it cannot feature in newspaper review or indeed it cannot make the headline. It is gradually turning the media into a tabloid patch and the government is feeding into it. Or should I rather say the politics of insult is the brain child of the government of the NDC and the media has embraced it and creating the echo chamber for it. It is rather a sad period in our democratic dispensation where after nearly 20 years of the 4th Republic, the biggest legacy that a government can bequeath to Ghanaians is the culture of insults. A year which was tagged as an Action Year when we were to see the green shoots of Better Ghana, we see the disgraceful face of freedom of speech –politics of insults. Of such is the NDC.

As far as I can remember the politics of insults reared its ugly head in the 1980s when the then PNDC sought to use insults to discredit all politicians. At that time Chairman Rawlings led the charge of castigations, insults and attacks on the media, clergy, judiciary and politicians. The young were meant to disrespect the old who were to be excluded from governance. The PDC and WDC concepts were meant to exclude people of authority and affluence. They became the wretched of the earth. The PNDC used this politics of insults and attack to create the culture of silence which reigned until Professor Adu Boahen broke it in the very late 1980s. Having got their way in the 1992 and 1996 elections the NDC used the Criminal Libel Act to silence the politics of insult and media intrusion into their corruptive deeds. The P/NDC having begat the politics of insult it was inevitable that once they knew that the governance of Ghana was running away from them decided to resort to it again. In 2007, when they realised the temperate nature of the NPP administration it became the tool of the then opposition party the NDC as their stock-in-trade to aim to discredit and dislodge the NPP. It was a mixture of lies and insults which they called propaganda. It took the form of the likes of Asiedu Nketia calling all the NPP leadership “thieves”. This was followed by Ama Benyiwah Doe’s castigation of the NPP as cocaine party. Tony Aidoo then referred to former President Kufuor as moo, meaning he was a cow. Of such is the NDC.

When all these people who used insults as their stock-in-trade were rewards with important positions and contracts within the NDC administration, it became obvious to the NDC members that the more you insult; the more likely President Mills would reward you. For insulting her way to office, Ama Benyiwah Doe at the vetting confessed that insults were just “political talk”. She was rewarded with ministerial job at Central Region. Tony Aidoo was rewarded as the head of policy analysis at the presidency and to ensure that he maintained his job, he turned his insults on Christians, referring to tongue –speaking as “madness”. Fiifi-Kwetey in opposition lied that President Kufuor had stolen all the gold reserves at the Bank of Ghana and for his reward, he was appointed the deputy Finance Minister. When Koku Anidoho and Mahama Ayarigah were struggling for the President’s ear at the castle, the former travelled to London and on Radio Focus lashed at former President Kufuor that he (Koku) hates his (Kufuor) face. Meaning President Kufuor is ugly of his hate figure; Koku came home to a hero’s welcome and made the sole Presidential Spokesperson. Ayarigah could not insult enough so he was re-assigned. Of such is the NDC.

Now knowing that the more you insult, the higher you go, the latter day saints of NDC took up the challenge. Koby Acheampong first dealt with Kumasi people as Kokoasi kurasini via Sir John and was rewarded with deputy Tourism Minister. When he topped it up with referring to Nana Akufo-Addo as “fruit cake” he was made Deputy Interior Minister and raised to a cabinet status. Fearing that a rumoured reshuffle will affect him, Agyemin Boateng (Deputy Information) turned his attention on taxi drivers and survived the reshuffle. Rojo Mettle Nunoo was advised to insult the nurses and para-medical staff who went on strike as foolish, so that he could save his skin from the mishandling of the information about the one-time NHS premium payment between him and his substantive minister. He survived because he had insulted. Of such is the NDC. Kobby Fiagbe knew that his Lens newspaper lacked credibility at the news stand and it could not stand the readership of even smallest newspaper in Ghana. In fact the Lens does not qualify as a T-roll in Ghana, so he decides to give up his day job to take insults as his full time political career. He decided to specialise in the subject of Akufo-Addo bashing to get money to run his business. As for Kwesi Pratt, the least said about him, the best. He would not even make a footnote in my account as he is the most discredited soul alive. Of such is the NDC.

At the time of writing this paper, Stan Dogbe had gone to town with no less a person as the Paramount Chief of the Gbi Traditional area, Togbuiga Gabusu VI over his comments that where President Mills recently cut the sod for the construction of an allied Health Science-based university had now become a forest that wild animals use as their habitat and the Eastern corridor roads were being delayed. This presidential staffer who a year ago was not even recognised on the list of staffers submitted to Parliament. A mere staffer, who can best be described as a hanger on at the presidency has the audacity to insult a traditional ruler and go away with pride. Of such is the NDC It is therefore not surprising that the non-entities such as Ofosu-Kwakye, Halidu, Michael Dokosi and Boama Otukonor are struggling to get their voice heard in the arena of insults and so that they could graduate into the good books of the President; and talking about the President, where does he feature in all this chronicle of insults? Oh I forgot that he is the chief executive of the country. He hires and fires but he has on this occasion and in the topic of politics of insults he has chosen to hire and reward rather that caution and fire. Of such is the NDC and its leader.

The President’s consistent failure in this and many other areas is very worrying to me. Abraham Lincoln once said that his “great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure”. When the President declared 2011 an action year, little did we realise that it was a year of insults, insults and insults again.

The 1992 constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of expression under Article 21 (1) where it states all persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media. However it does not state that such persons should use that right to abuse and insults members of their political divide. The President is supervising a politics of rewards for insults. Of such is the politics of the NDC and its leader.

Kwesi Atta-Krufi Hayford