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Opinions of Thursday, 19 February 2009

Columnist: Affenyi-Dadzie, Kow

Spio-Gabrah, Man of Peace

Re: Comrade Spio-Gabrah, hold your fire (feature on ghanaweb: Thursday 5/02/09) It is good to hear Kwame Agbodza speak, from wherever he may be. I’m inclined to believe that he writes when he does not have all the information he needs to make his essay solid.

Firstly, “Friends of Spio-Garbrah” have not claimed ever that they are an affiliate of the NDC. They are simply Friends of Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, who although has been involved in Ghanaian politics, is also known around the world for many other achievements outside of Ghanaian politics and the NDC. Those of us who have chosen to be his “friends” admire him for a range of things, not all of which are political. Some of us became his fans when he taught us at Adisadel College in the 1970s, others worked with him at the African Development Bank or the World Bank and came to appreciate his hard work and love for Ghana, many became his friends when he was an Ambassador to the USA (even when we did not belong to any political parties) and others have come to know him since he became the CEO of the CTO, based in London, but making many friends for Ghana around the world. Some are also his relatives and family members, who are endeared to him, because in spite of his seniority and age, he treats most younger people as friends. Secondly, we think that impression created by Mr Agbodza that the publication of Spio’s discussion with his friends would breed unnecessary tension is misplaced. This is even more so when the main import of Dr. Spio-Garbrah’s comments was to ask his own “friends” in Ghana and around the world to understand the immense pressure on President Mills and to support him. Does Mr Agbodza know what friends of Spio-Garbrah think about his being apparently sidelined in the appointment process in Ghana?? If Mr Abgodza is not a friend of Spio-Garbrah and those who are Spio-Garbrah’s friends are concerned that he may have declined a job offer in Ghana, and are asking him to change his mind, and he has been able to explain the situation to us, why should Mr Abgodza be concerned??

Any objective reader of the statement by Friends of Spio-Garbrah would have noted that Dr. Spio- Garbrah was appealing to the rank and file of the Party, many of whom are equally dejected by the omission of their various heroes—Tony Aidoo, E.T Mensah, Dr. Kumbuor, etc—from ministerial appointments, to be calm and be supportive of the President. Is there anything wrong in that?

Would Mr Agbodza have been happier if Dr. Spio-Garbrah had encouraged his supporters and fans to go on demonstrations in Accra or to become apathetic towards NDC affairs? So, in fact, there was no fire in the comments made by Dr. Spio-Garbrah which his Friends chose to release, so that those who did not meet with him could also get his essential message. Dr. Spio-Garbrah has continued to work for peace and tranquillity in the party, as well as restore faith in the ranks and file of the NDC, aimed at forestalling the tensions that Mr Agbodza is writing about. So, indeed, if Mr Agbodza wanted to minimize any tension, then he should have simply sent his article to the desk of Dr. Spio- Garbrah, to give him private advice, instead of writing an article for the glaring eyes of ghanaweb.com. as if to challenge Dr. Spio-Garbrah or his friends and supporters.

Thirdly, Mr Agbodza’s rather spiteful way of comparing Dr. Spio-Garbrah to others in the NDC is unfortunate. The comments of Dr. Spio-Garbrah that was reported by his friends actually touched on the importance of the foot-soldiers of the Party. And in any case, one does not need to excel in everything to be a hero. A person does not need to be on top of every single act of contribution, such as in media appearances or in financial contributions, etc. within the NDC for the person to be recognised for his efforts. Nevertheless, those of us who are friends of Dr. Spio-Garbrah are fully aware of the contribution he has made over the years to the NDC. After all, did the whole world not see and hear how then President-designate Obama courted Mrs Hilary Clinton to join his Cabinet, so that there could be greater harmony and cohesion in the Democratic Party??? Did Mr Abgodza not see that? Did it mean that the Democratic Party had no foot soldiers, and that is why Mr Obama was spending so much time to woo Mrs Clinton? Is the case of the NDC different? Doesn’t the NDC want to keep the Party intact by making sure that those who have some popularity in the Party, those who have many friends and supporters amongst foot soldiers, are not just simply ignored? It is not as if Dr. Spio-Garbrah, Alex Segbefia or Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who are all well-employed in London, need jobs in Ghana or are begging for them. But we who are Friends of Dr. Spio-Garbrah, believe that when the Government in Ghana recognises its citizens who are holding prominent jobs overseas and are able to attract them to Ghana (in spite of salary losses) then that government is also recognising the millions of Ghanaian professionals working in the diaspora. We hope Mr Agbodza can agree at least with that.

Fourth, if some of us felt that Spio-Garbrah would be a fine pick for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it is because this gentleman is passionate about Ghana and African development. He loves his country more than 95% of us and has proven it before by sacrificing his high-paid job at the African Development Bank to return to Ghana to receive 5% of the salary he used to receive at the ADB. How many Ghanaians does Mr Abgodza know who will do that?? Does Mr Agbodza not know Spio- Garbrah’s role in helping to bring the VAT into Ghana or in establishing the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund)? Does he believe that all ministers leave their offices with such landmark achievements? He has the credentials Ghana needs, and has all the guts to serve as an effective minister to help our country at a time when we all know the global economy is in a tailspin, and we need experienced men to help bail Ghana out. This is a man who now spends 90% of his time with leaders all around the world, makes bold decisions that inevitably affects the way you and I get access to mobile telephony and browse the Internet, be you in Timbuktu, Belfast or Miami. And it is in such men as Spio that Ghana should confidently entrust its dealings into their hands, to take us to higher grounds. We don’t think that Mr Agbodza even knows that Dr. Spio-Garbrah scored a Distinction in his Master’s degree in International Affairs at Ohio University in 1979, and to this day Ghanaian students who arrive at Ohio University are told about his achievements by some of his former professors.

Furthermore, Mr Agbodza seemed to continue to make incoherent argument in his article, by suggesting that Spio does not acknowledge the contributions of foot soldiers and the hard-working young men of the NDC. Ask the young men around UK and or even “ghetto boys” in Accra and find out for yourself the interactions they have been having with Spio. Find out for yourself how he acknowledges them day in and day out, and how he is accessible to them, how he answers to their calls at every hour of the day. How many of the “big men” you know are available to answer their phones every hour of the day? Please, do your investigations well and come again. What do you know, or did you know about Spio prior to writing your article, Mr Agbodza? For your ignorance should not serve as a basis for an unwarranted attack on the person of Dr Spio-Garbrah. Finally, I am not related to Spio or “Friends of Spio” in any way, but you see my proposition seems as though I am, and of course, I have become connected now. That tells you the substance of the person I’m talking about.

Long Live Spio-Garbrah! Long live President Mills!! Long live the NDC!!! For those who do not believe that there are any Friends of Spio-Garbrah, and who would like to talk to any of his friends, to know why they are his admirers, I’ve got some contacts for you:

Kofi Agbesinyale: kofiagbesinyale@rocketmail.com

Kwabena Osei Nimo: koseinimo@ymail.com

Tim Turkson: timturkson@yahoo.co.uk

Gideon Ziblim: ziblimgideon@yahoo.co.uk

Evans Kyekyeku: ekyekyeku@yahoo.co.uk

Yours truly, Dr Kow Affenyi-Dadzie kowaffenyi@yahoo.co.uk