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Opinions of Monday, 7 April 2008

Columnist: Amenyo, Kofi

This drug issue must be settled before we vote

This drug issue should not go away. It is not in the interest of Ghana that it goes away. There should be no legal niceties here. Akufo-Addo should not ask his lawyers to issue statements and threats about his alleged drug abuse. Akufo-Addo himself should come out, look Ghanaians straight in the face and with his hand on his heart, tell all of us that the rumours about his drug addiction are completely false and the work of his adversaries who want his downfall. He should say it with the same conviction with which Bill Clinton looked Americans in the face and told them: I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Ghanaians should not accept anything less than that.

The stage has now been reached where it is no longer the duty of the rumour mongers to prove their case but that of the candidate, exuding a lot of goodwill towards the Ghanaians he loves so much, to clear the air with a very simple statement. It is not a judicial issue but a moral one which we cannot ask any court of law to decide for us.

If he doesn’t do this, the opposition will have every right to press the issue and draw political capital out of it. The opposition will be stupid, very stupid indeed, not to exploit such a juicy vote catcher. It is only rational that they do so. In fact, they will be doing a disservice to Ghanaians not to press the issue. After all this is politics. It is a dirty game and all the actors will, anyway, be using lies, tricks and all kinds of subterfuge to win votes.

If he did not do any drugs in his adulthood, he has to tell Ghanaians that. If he sniffed cocaine before, it will be his duty to convince Ghanaians that despite his past habit, he can still make their lives much better than what his competitors are promising them.. Then Ghanaians will decide whether to believe him or not.

There are other rumours about the man like his not being a qualifiedlawyer, being arrested in the US with cocaine, sleeping with small girls, etc. Allthese are nonsense and mere trifles. His not being a lawyer can easily bechecked by any dimwit journalist looking through the records of the schools heattended. Whether or not he was arrested for cocaine in the US can also beeasily checked. That he did not win his party’s nomination according to theparty’s own rules is also nonsense. But his alleged drug abuse is on adifferent scale. It must be settled, and by him, before December 7th.The earlier this is done, the better for NPP and for Ghanaians as a whole. Others have argued that the constitution does not specificallydebar a drug addict from seeking the post of president. That is true, verytrue, but this issue is beyond any constitutional provisions. The people ofGhana have only one chance in four years to influence the people who make thelaws by which they must live. After December 7th, our rulers willforget about us and remember us again only in the next elections in 2012.

Ghanaians must make the fullest use of this chance because whatever decisions they makewill hang on their necks like the proverbial albatross for the next four years.

In the making of that decision, the ordinary Ghanaian is not going to belooking into the fine print of the constitution. She will be making herdecision according to what her mind tells her and the dictates of her heart. Onpolling day, she will be alone in the polling booth, with no constitution toconsult, with no one to tell her by whose picture she should place her mark. Whetheror not a candidate has sniffed cocaine before will be important for her. Thisis the time to drive our politicians to the wall before they start to get thebetter of us once we have elected them. The comparison with Rawlings’ alleged drug abuse doesn’t hold. Rawlings imposed himself on us for 11 years. If he had stood for president in free and fair elections in 1981 and Ghanaians had known that he did drugs, they wouldn’t have voted for him. In 1992 and 1996, he used incumbency, a lot of cunning and wiliness to con Ghanaians into voting for him. Now we are saying nobody should deceive Ghanaians like that again! It will be extremely nice if Atta Mills tells us the whole truth about his health but I am arguing here that the issue of drug abuse (a wilful act rather than the product of nature) is more serious than the overall health of a candidate. That is why I will not mention the two in the same breath.

The issue has to do with Akufo-Addo the man, not NPP the party. But if it is not cleared one way or the other, then it will have to do with NPP also. The party had the chance to choose somebody with a less controversial background. After all, there was no lack of persons wanting to carry their banner. They had a vetting committee which checked on all the applicants’ backgrounds and made sure that everyone who was eligible to take part in the elections was also eligible to be president of Ghana – on all counts. They chose Akufo-Addo so they must face up with all the qualities that come with this man as well as the drawbacks that he brings along with his personality. I am not an NDC man even if my name has a clang to it that identifies me with the tribe that supports that party. The NDC doesn’t even know I exist. I am just a non-partisan Ghanaian patriot. If you ask me, I will tell you, as I have said here before, that I don’t really think any of the guys wanting to be president is fit to rule us and we are going to choose one of them only because we cannot be without a president.

This article is not premised on the fact that Akufo Addo did drugs. It is only arguing that the issue as to whether or not he did must be settled now by him. Akufo Addo’s drug use, or not, must not remain a ‘huhuhuhu’ forever. The man is seeking the highest political office of our country. The issue must be settled before we cast our votes for him. He is the only one who can clear the air. If he refuses to tell Ghanaians the truth and claims he has more important things to do than clearing the air with a simple statement, when he is not yet the president, then Ghanaians should punish him for leaving them in the dark. They will not be able to do so once he becomes president. This is our only chance and we shouldn’t let anybody, with eyes on a personal gain from the Akufo presidency, try to convince us that the issue is not important.

Amenyo, Kofi



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