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Opinions of Friday, 27 September 2013

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

RE: Gabby replies Arthur K

26TH September, 2013

Dear Sir/Madam,

RE: gabby replies arthur k

My attention has been drawn to the above published in some media outlets yesterday. Apparently, while on Citi fm’s “POINT BLANK” program, Mr. Gabby Otchere-Darko, Executive Director of Danquah Institute and a key assistant to the NPP’s 2012 Presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo chose to attack my person instead of addressing the issues I had raised in my call to the NPP to reflect on the causes of our defeat instead of rushing to elect a new flag-bearer. According to the report, “Gabby asked Arthur K to stick to his medical field “and stop meddling in things he has very little expertise in.” Elsewhere in the same interview, he said, “Sometimes I get surprised by Arthur K. When this “all-die-be-die” issue started, Arthur K wrote an article in defense of Akufo-Addo on the matter. Two to three years down the line, he was on radio criticizing that decision. Gabby also alleged that I do not like Dr. Bawumia, the NPP running-mate and star witness in the election petition.
I shall be getting to the question of the right of me or any other physician or professional to participate in our public discourse in a moment but let me dispose quickly of the issues of “all-die-be-die” and Dr. Bawumia’s performance before the Supreme Court.
Gabby’s assertion that I defended “all-die-be-die” is disingenuous. Gabby knows that I was the only prominent NPP member to deplore, in public, Nana’s choice of words after he made his infamous statement. In an opinion piece published by myjoyonline on August 11th, 2011, under the heading “ARTHUR KENNEDY WRITES ON HYPOCRISY”, I wrote “Let me begin by reminding everyone of the context. The NPP flag-bearer was addressing party faithful who were concerned about NDC intimidation and he was trying to encourage them. Under those circumstances, I believe his encouragement to the faithful, while inappropriately phrased, was reasonable. However, I think the reference to ethnicity, made in response to a question, was inappropriate and regrettable. It gave false and regrettable credence to the NDC propaganda that the “NPP is an Akan party.” That same day, I made similar remarks on Peace fm’s evening news. My larger point in that opinion piece was that it was hypocritical for NDC members to be condemning Nana when they had defended former President Mills threat to turn Ghana into Kenya if the NDC did not win the 2008 elections. Unlike others, while I tried to limit the damage from “all-die-be-die”, I never saw it as a positive statement which would rally floating voters to our cause. I am convinced that that statement was one of the significant turning points of our 2012 campaign. Gabby is being dishonest because he was one of the party leaders who condemned my comments and my opinion piece.
On Dr. Bawumia’s testimony, while I applaud his stamina and his brilliance, his testimony showed gaps in his knowledge of electioneering processes on the ground, including the role of party agents. A careful reading of the Supreme Court judgment shows that quite a number of the justices shared this opinion.
As to Gabby’s request that I stick to my area of expertise, it is unfortunate. If all professionals stick to their areas of expertise, who would be left in politics? The young men and women whose only skill is the hurling of insults? Does this mean that Benjamin Rush who signed the US declaration of Independence—Mahathir Mohammad who became perhaps the best Prime Minister of Malaysia—Bill Frist who became US Senate majority leader – as well as the late Dr. Kwame Sarfo Adu, Professors Frimpong Boateng and Akosah as well as Richard Anane should not have been in politics? Perhaps Bill Frist put it best about the impact of physicians on politics, “Persuading George Bush to commit 16 billion USD to fighting HIV in Africa is the best decision I ever made as a physician.” Personally, while I may be ignorant as Gabby claims, I do love my country and have always tried to contribute. The problem with our country, unfortunately, is that too many good and competent people shun the arena of politics. While I always encourage the youth to participate in politics, I urge them to develop themselves professionally at the same time. Men and women who are completely and continually dependent on politics are, in my view, dangers to our democracy. Over the last four years, I have spent most of my time teaching and practicing medicine and earned most of my income from it. I wonder when Gabby was last in court on a case not connected to politics and how much of his income he has earned from the practice of law?
Finally, I believe the practice of launching personal attacks on people we disagree with must cease. A few weeks ago, Prof. Okoampa-Ahoofe, a charter member of the “Kyebi Mafia” and a relative of Gabby, in response to my call for the West to cease trying force homosexuality down Africa’s throat, called me a “Carolina nigger”. That kind of language is not permissible in civilized dialogue and I urge Gabby and Okoampa-Ahoofe to elevate their language and their tone. While I admire their family and their loyalty to one another, such attitudes are not helpful to our nation’s spirit and welfare. My late mother’s favourite “abibidwom” was “Etan wo nua na edo Chris a na otoro ye wo” which means “If you hate your brother and you love Jesus, you are a liar”. We in the NPP will be more successful at winning the hearts, minds and ultimately the votes of floating voters if we start showing more love and consideration for our own.
God bless you all.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy