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Opinions of Thursday, 15 September 2011

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

Re: So Where Are The NPP Brains?

The Executive Director of the Danquah Institute and shadow campaign manager cum chief strategist of Nana Addo 2012 has issued a statement blaming the NPP party machinery for neglecting the flagbearer's speech on Eid ul-Fitr.

Nana's own Karl Rove, (readers 'd remember that Rove had no defined role under Bush yet was the most influential personality) Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, writes that "The Liberty Lecture was the first time, since..... August 2010, on Ghanaian soil that such a major platform.... for Nana Akufo-Addo to tell Ghanaians what he intends to do if elected president in.... " And that the "adept swimmers from the pool of intellectual depth" have failed to take "the time to write and expand on the party’s vision.... as articulated by its leader." "Instead," he continues, "they have all allowed the nation to be pissed and stoned on the synergistic hallucination from the gossips.... as embarrassingly exposed in the leaked US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks."

Now, the Director may have a point on the "neglect" factor. But in light of what has happened since and the circumstances surrounding the date of the speech, I find the statement issued very mischievous and craftly diversionary. The timing is as misjudged as the "Eid ul-Fitr lectures." Overall, the grounds on which the statement was issued is not justifiable. And these are the reasons why.

As an experienced politician and an influential policy maker, the Director is, undoubtedly, aware that the Party is not in a one sided fight. In this case, the P-ndc, the media, public opinion and unforeseen events all have a stake.

As a seasoned journalist, the Director is surely aware that some news or events are simply bigger than others regardless of the degree of importance; even if for a brief period of time.

In the first place, if the Wikileaks cable had not overtaken events - briefly - the Director's misjudgement in holding his lectures on a Holy day still would have overshadowed the contents and substance of the speech for a while - at least for "five business days." Of course one can clearly see the advantages of holding the lectures on a "holy- holiday." But taking advantage of a holy-holiday - instead of a civil holiday - is as.......as an uncle taking advantage of his niece's wedding to sell his wares.

Secondly, the Director must have anticipated the backlash for picking that day. Yet he sounded very unprepared and caught of guard after the fallout. "His spin" was not up to standard. Maybe the Director was banking on the charitable nature of the P-ndc to let his "gaffe" slide. Nor can he say that he himself would not have milked the situation if the tables had been turned. The appalling defense the party put up and the struggles the communication team faced in defending the indefensible also exposed how unprepared the party machinery was after the fact. (Poor souls, they had been put in an avoidable predicament by "an uncle" - whose words,some believe, carry more weight than the Patriarch himself - without adequate warning).

The most painful aspect of the whole affair, however, is that the attendees - the party - has taken more heat than the organizers of the lectures - the think tank.

Then came Wikileaks,released the day before the lectures. The Director, reputed to be a great researcher, certainly would have known about the released cables on the very first day before many political observers. Unfortunately for him, he was to feature prominently and negatively so in the cables. (Such a series of bad timing are found only in religious texts). The Director himself would spent days embroiled in his own bribery scandal with the party communication machinery working overtime to defend him among other things.

In short, no one could have prevented the cables from dominating the news for the past week or so. Nor was the atmosphere receptive for any major policy discussion, whether written or spoken. So how and why the Director would "call out" the "Brains" of the party and its intelligentsia a week after - and amidst - the biggest "scandal" of the Fourth Republic is beyond me. True, the contents of the speech is our future. But the day of the lectures has tainted it. (I believe Nana's German speech was also greatly distracted by the presence of another cousin, if my memory serves me right) Luckily for us, the issues Nana talked about are live issues. It 'll be with us with for the next fifteen months. Nana 'd be talking about them again and again. I therefore suggest the party forget, completely, about the lectures and the version of the speech given at the event. It 'll always bring up bad memories. Let Nana give yet another version of the speech and under less controversial setting. Only then would accusations of people failing to do their jobs be justifiable.



AFTERWORD.

Since the Director seems to feel personally responsible for the Lectures and the speech, it must be brought to his attention that a 30 page speech - a third of which is on party history and the libel law - is good enough for a lecture. But it is not enough material for writers and pundits, whose duty it is to explain, expand and educate citizens. One can only write, at most, two articles out of the 30 pages. WE need the 100 page or so document or manifesto on which Nana based his speech on, backed by references and sources. After all, we are talking about a blue print for the future.



Akwasi A Afrifa Akoto