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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

A Rejoinder to: Mills' son pops up

Using a president's son to attack him is below the belt, NPP should apologise

The Deputy Communications Director (‘the deceptoire in chief’) of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Sammy Awuku, ‘crossed a line’ in using Samuel Kofi Atta Mills, President Mills’ son, to take a pop at the NDC’s concern about the moral uprightness of the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Awuku shamelessly and mockingly in an interview with DAILY GUIDE noted that: “It beats everybody’s imagination and it’s a slap in the face of Ghanaian tradition to have a son who cannot visit his father in the house or at home. It’s no secret now that his ‘son’ even when in the country, he can’t even go to the house where Naadu Mills (the President’s wife) and the President are supposed to be living,” Not cool, Awuku. Not cool at all!!!!

This ungallant attack seems particularly unpleasant when you consider that President Mills gave his campaign guarantee that: “I won't be at any stage insulting or criticising any member of Mr Akufo-Addo's family,"

FAMILIES, and particularly sons and daughters, are off limits on the political battlefield. Or at least they should be. I think that no matter what your politics are, families are precious, and I certainly regard them as off-limits. I expect the NPP to be more interested in a contest of ideas, not exchanging barbs. As a potential voter, I am yet to see a single policy of any substance from the NPP as an alternative political party. However, while the NPP lacks any credible economic and social policies, they surely made up for it using politics of insults and political debauchery. Akufo Addo will be right to slap Awuku's wrist for such low, old-fashioned behaviour. Bringing an innocent son unfairly into political game playing is not the way of things these days. Awuku needs to pull up his socks and get with the modern times if he is to join the big kids in the political arena. I am pretty sure most sons do not accompany their parents to work. I don't know too many sons who would want to be taken to work by their parents, either. Most sons and daughters have their own cycle of friends, their own work, their own busy lives and it seems like an odd thing to do in the modern scheme of things. But Ghanaian politics is a funny, blurry game and until recently, spouses, sons and daughters were not part of the deal for those who felt the need to enter the fray. No other profession is like being a politician in Ghana. When you apply for a normal job, you don't take your family along for the interview, the pre-employment tests or the selection processes. However, the desire to present a respectful family man image has dictated that you do in Ghanaian politics. Spouse, kids, even the family dog might get a run-on spot in the pitch for the job.

Their faces appear on what is effectively a politician’s job application, their behaviour is presented as (hopefully) painfully perfect and where and how they live becomes a source of interest for the prospective Ghanaian voters. Ghanaian convention and cultural expectation historically asked them to continue to play a part even after the job was secured. Sometimes they were forced to play the part of the victim, sometimes the part of supporter and sometimes the colour in their politician's grey, drab life. For Awuku and his NPP desperados it doesn't matter what the spouses, sons and daughters does for a living, their business interest, their movie genre preference or what their position is on the future of oil drilling, sex education or social issues. If there are any cheap political points to earn, the NPP will go for it no matter the consequences on the life of the innocent sons and daughters of our politicians.

Of course it doesn't matter.

The public doesn't need or want to see wives, sons and daughters trotted out like trophies any more, or see their spotty, embarrassed-looking kids paraded. They are not our representatives and unless they do something that compromises political decision-making (such as Hotel Kufuor saga and the corruptions of kufuor’s children under the NPP), we don't need them dressing up and normalising the pictures.

It matters not a jot to me whether an elected president is married, not married, a parent or childless. And I don't need their relationships with their sons or daughters, and/or their family rolled out to illustrate one of these things. Awuku should be man enough to apologise to the President of the State, his wife and the innocent Samuel Kofi Atta Mills.


Shuk Abubakar