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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Columnist: Kofi Nuwordu

When Agyenim Boateng makes Mahama 2020 campaign shine

If there is one thing that no one can take away from former President John Dramani Mahama, then, it is his ability to communicate effectively with all manner of people, irrespective of their background.

But, if there was also one thing that became an albatross around the neck of the former President, especially when he became the President of the Republic of Ghana between 2013 to January 7, 2017, then it was his communication outfit.

This was evident in the number of people he appointed to head the communication outfit at the Flagstaff House, including Stan Dogbe and Ben Dotse Marlor.

Why the many changes? Because media practitioners continued to have difficulty working with the various Heads of the Communication Team, especially Stan Dogbe, who still continue to have a bad “name” among large number of the members of the media fraternity.

I remember in just recent time when the former President held a press conference at the Trade Fair Centre in Accra, after filing his nomination form to contest as the flagbearer of the NDC for the 2020 general elections, one journalist who works for a state-owned media was shocked to see Stan Dogbe at the press conference. As a Social Commentator who also attended the programme and a friend to this Journalist, the bewildered Journalist asked me “Ah so this Stan Dogbe man is still following former President Mahama erh. Mr Mahama will never learn”.

But I tried to let him know that, Mr Stan is no more working for Mr Mahama as the Head of Communications but rather, one Mr James Agyenim Boateng, but this journalist would still not understand why he was present at the press conference and was very much disappointed in the former President.

At a distance, I see Stan as a hard-working man but, his seemingly bad relationship with the media makes him not perfect to manage the Communications of the former President, even though he has one of the best relationships with him. That is why I thought it was a masterstroke in the appointment of Mr Agyenim Boateng as the Spokesperson for the 2020 campaign. This is because of his neutrality.

As a legal practitioner, every listener of Radio Gold or media personnel is aware of the name Agyenim Boateng, who was one time managing the Communications of the late former Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur.

Whoever proposed for his appointment was spotted on, as he appeared to be favoured in the media fraternity, as well as having the resemblance of the former President with his soft but hard-hitting voice.

And his performance at the just ended campaign for the flagbearership contest proved his capability to handle the office.

The herculean task he first handled was the infamous attack on the Journalist of Joy Fm, Mr Parker Wilson who was covering Mr Mahama’s Greater Accra campaign tour.

It was reported that one of the members of the NDC vigilante groups, the Hawks, assaulted the journalist. Knowing the relationship NDC has with the Multi-MEDIA GROUP, am still at a loss how Agyenim Boateng managed to handle the issue.

The truth of the matter is that I got to know about the assault from the statement issued by the Mahama campaign spokesperson apologizing to the reporter before I even head it on Joy Fm the following morning.

The approach by Agyenim was a surprise to me, especially when one would have thought that the usual denial would have been made. But the admission of the incidence and the apology killed whatever bad press the former President would have suffered from the incident.

I also read in the Daily Guide newspaper, about a fracas at Obuasi during the campaign period but listening to Agyenim Boateng on OKAY FM, explaining what exactly transpired was just a masterclass.

Then comes the issue of accessibility. Mr Agyenim Boateng was very accessible to the media and he was on countless occasion heard explaining issues and policy directions of the former President towards the NDC as a party, ably supported by his two deputies Elsie Esenam Appau-Klu, and Adwoa Serwaa Bondzie.

For the first time in many years, (that is after the days of Koku Anyidoho, who used to send script, voice and videos to the mails of all media houses, when he was the Head of Communications during the late President Mills tenure), Agyenim Boateng was constantly sending script attached with audios and videos of the former President to all media houses, during the campaign period.

It was therefore no surprise that the Mahama’s campaign team was more visible in the media than the other contestants.

I was therefore not surprised as an observer “standing my somewhere” for the landslide victory of Mr Mahama, and I thought his message got to the right people at the right time.

So what next after the flagbearership contest of the party now is over? It is important that Mr Agyenim Boateng and his team are maintained ahead of the almighty 2020 general elections as the former President needed someone of his calibre to continue to neutralize the media landscape.