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Opinions of Monday, 21 March 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

BNI is Head of the Mills Government

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

It is not clear who President John Evans Atta-Mills thinks he is fooling when he rather cynically asserts that he owes “no apologies for making God the leader of my government” (See “I Owe No Apologies For Making God Leader Of My Gov’t” Modernghana.com 3/13/11). What is clear, however, is that were Ghanaian citizens and voters looking to have God assume constitutional leadership of our beloved nation, we would not have had to ask the man who staunchly backed the bloody Rawlings’ reign-of-terror to show us the way.

What is also disturbingly clear is the fact that a desperate President Mills, somehow, appears to believe that he can facilely apply the at once infantile and vacuous ruse of “God-Baiting” to hoodwink Ghanaians into believing that his is a God-centered administration. If so, then Tarkwa-Atta could not have been more presumptuous and blasphemous in his assertion.

For starters, would the President also claim that, indeed, it was God who sanctioned his reckless use of NDC footsoldiers to cause mayhem and brazenly indulge in acts of vandalism and theft all over the country? We also know something all-too-glaring that the President may not want to readily admit; and it is the fact that contrary to what he would have the rest of us believe, it is actually the Rawlings-minted and re-designated Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) that is the de facto “Leader” or “Head” of the Atta-Mills government.

And, needless to say, were God, in fact, the institutional leader of his government, the editor of the Daybreak newspaper, Prince Prah, would not have been rudely cuffed and shoved into a vehicle belonging to the BNI for questioning over the publication of an article alleging that the Chief of the Defense Staff, Lt.-Gen. Augustine Blay, is to be shortly relieved of his post, due largely to a recent falling out with the President (See “Prof. Karikari Slams BNI for Arresting Editor” MyJoyOnline.com 3/17/11).

Under a “theocratic democracy,” needless to say, what ought to have happened if, indeed, the Mills government firmly believed Mr. Prah’s article to be absolutely devoid of merit, should have been to issue an official statement vehemently denying the same. And if, indeed, there was an unrelated plan afoot for getting rid of a three-star Gen. Blay, to have come forth to forthrightly acknowledge the same. By having personnel of the Bureau of National Investigations arrest Prince Prah and implicitly, albeit obliquely, intimidate him, what the Atta-Mills government seems to be aiming for is a deftly calculated and tactical abridgement of press freedom. The President implied this much during his third, and one religiously hopes his penultimate, “State-of-the-Nation Address,” when Tarkwa-Atta categorically asserted that the fact that there constitutionally exists freedom of the press does not necessarily mean that such right ought to be exercised without let or hindrance.

In other words, just about the same time that President Mills declared a state-of-siege against his most formidable political opponent, namely, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President Mills also issued a strong warning to those media operatives who would erroneously presume Ghana’s Fourth-Republican political culture to entail an unfettered exercising of information dissemination.

Indeed, when Prof. Kwame Karikari, of the Media Foundation for West Africa, describes the action of the BNI in its summary arrest of Prince Prah as woefully “unprofessional,” the former Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation diplomatically understates matters. To be certain, the action of the BNI eerily and crudely reflects the great difficulty with which the nominally ironic National Democratic Congress government appears to be grappling with both the concept and practice of constitutional democracy.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net. ###