Koku Anyidoho and the President Image
By Koku Ayidoho
The other day it was Maulvi Wahab Adam who came under verbal assault by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and government’s communication team. The leader of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim Mission and member of the National Peace Council was called a New Patriotic Party (NPP) mole when he condemned Mr Koku Anyidoho’s outbursts against Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s earlier statement, which was equally distasteful.
According to Maulvi Wahab Adam and other such level-headed people, Koku Anyidoho, who is the Communication Director at the Presidency, should refrain from making certain pronouncements because of the high office he speaks for. But the hawks did not see reason in this. Instead, they subjected the respected the religious leader to all the unpalatable descriptions one could think of.
But we were yet to see Mr Koku Anyidoho’s worst. He later referred to members of the Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (FONKAR) as “diaper-wearing and bed-wetting” fellows. His comments about cocaine suspect Asem Dake’s confession are yet to be corroborated. In fact, I cannot recount all of them here.
No one knows whether President John Evans Atta-Mills ever reprimands his spokesperson. But what we all know is that Mr Anyidoho behaviour keeps worsening. And it was manifested over the weekend when the Black Stars played their first 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi. It was the national team’s first match under their Ghanaian coach, James Kwasi Appiah, and expectations were high.
The Black Stars, in their uncharacteristic fashion, produced three goals in the first half and added a fourth in the opening minutes of the second half of the game. Then what started like an “April Fool” joke from the radio commentators became reality when the floodlights at the packed stadium went off. Everybody was outraged and thought that, for once, the one behind it should be punished to exorcise that “Ghanaian spirit” from other such officials.
But even before any investigation was conducted to ascertain the cause of the problem, Mr Koku Anyidoho was already telling the media that heads would roll with immediate effect.
“President Mills is upset and everybody who has a role to play in the matter will have their heads roll,” he told Joy FM. “This is unacceptable and the president is upset.”
He said the Ashanti Regional Director of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) would be fired and “all those in the line of fire would be fired.” He added that the decision would be communicated to him “immediately.”
But it soon emerged that Koku Anyidoho was not speaking the mind of the president. The Ministry of Energy was the first to counter the information before the Ministry of Information later denied any such directive from the government.
“The President has given no such directive and it is therefore not true that the ECG boss in the Ashanti region has been fired,” a statement signed by Information Minister Mr Fritz Barfuor said.
Later in the on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme, Mr Anyidoho tried to be smart by indicating that though he said the president was upset, he did not say the directive was from the president. Sometimes politicians think their audience have sand concealed in their skulls so they will be gullible and susceptible to every lie. When pushed further, Mr Anyidoho said some senior people in government took the decision at the heat of the moment. So why did he mention the president’s name? Are those senior members of government the president?
When I posted Koku Anyidoho’s behaviour on Facebook, opinions were divided between those who claimed it was one of those mistakes anybody could make and those who thought the attitude of the president’s spokesperson is so reprehensible that he should be relieved of his position.
Like Maulvi Wahab Adam, anyone who insists that the president punish Koku Anyidoho is likely to be painted with NPP colours. But that should not stop all well-meaning Ghanaians from condemning what Mr Anyidoho has done and continues to do.
Giving presidential orders without the knowledge of the president is not a mistake. It is arrogance with impunity. It is disrespect of the highest office of the land, a total disregard for the presidency.
If we allow such denigration of the presidency to go on, one day, someone will declare war and send our army into battle without the knowledge of the presidency. There have been instances where certain decisions have been said to have been taken by some few individuals within government and made to look as though they had the blessings of the president. If there was no comment from the information ministry, we would have thought Koku Anyidoho spoke the mind of the president.
But in all of this, the president cannot be absolved if he does not act. It is said that he who does not punish evil commands it to be done. Though politicians cannot be trusted, when one hears and sees President Mills talk, one will have no reason to doubt him. But as the Akan proverb has it, an elder who fails to restrain children from eating pythons, is also counted as a python eater.
Take, for instance, the issue of foul language and politics of insults, which the president is never tired of condemning.
“My brothers and sisters, when you switch on our TVs, or our radio, you will think that Ghana is at war,” President Mills said when he launched the Tema-Accra railway service in Tema. “Many of us are engaged in politics of insults. Insults will not help us to produce water. Insults will not create jobs, insults will not bring about the peace and harmony that we need to develop. Are we going to spend our time hurling insults at one another whiles we leave the development of the country unattended to?”
That is a good question. But how does the President reconcile this with the fact that some of the worst culprits are members of his government, including his own spokesperson.
The other day, the Minister of Interior, Mr Kobby Acheampong, called me and was fuming furiously about an article I had written about him. In the said article, I stated that if Ghana was a serious country, he should have lost his job after some pronouncements on radio. I answered the call and allowed Kobby Acheampong to say everything he had to say and ended the call when I said nothing. I saw no reason to argue with him.
“For good reasons, I will not take you on,” he Kobby Acheampong told me. Funny, isn’t it?
The only reason he did not take me on was that he had no reason to do so. On that radio show, the deputy interior minister said NPP parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South, Ms Ursula Owusu had no business in the Odododiodoo Constituency, where she was assaulted by some thugs alleged to be members of the NDC. He also condemned ACP Angwubutoge Awuni, who ordered the arrest of the NDC MP for Klottey Korley Constituency and immediate past Greater Accra Regional Minister.
The only explanation he tried to give to justify his comments, however, was that ACP Awuni was noted for using bad language against public officials. He said he had ordered the MTTU boss to apologise to the mayor of Accra, which he did not do.
After he ended the call, I smiled to myself and wondered what type of world we are living in. Did Kobby Acheampong apologise after referring to NPP General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, as a “cocoa ase kurase ni” or a “primitive” person from a cocoa growing village?
While addressing the tertiary students’ wing of the NDC in Kumasi, Kobby Acheampong, reportedly said Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP was a “fruitcake.” Did Kobby Acheampong apologise?
Did he apologise, when groups such as the Ghana Christian Council asked for his removal? I’m told he also had a nasty confrontation with Shamima Muslim on a live television show on Metro TV. Who took him on or asked him to apologise?
Koku Anyidoho and Kobby Acheampong are just a few of those who have made foul language their stock in trade and one wonders why they are still in the services of President Mills.
Instead of attacking everybody who speaks against their attitude, members of the government communication team should grow. In times past, when people talked about the use of foul language, Deputy Information Minister, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa’s name always came up. But he has matured and though he can be bitingly critical, he is no longer as abusive he used to be. Koku Anyidoho, however, has not given us the faintest clue that he will change.
I am a youth myself and one of the diseases common to people of our age is youthful exuberance. It can be deadly. Instead of being offensively defensive, we should learn and mature. For political activists, this is not expedient for their parties, but it is also good for the political future.
The worst thing that ever happened to the NDC is the government’s communication team. Attacking and labeling critics seems to be their most potent weapon. And if the President does not act, their attitude will definitely affect his image.
If the president’s spokesperson can make declarations using the president’s name without his knowledge, it does not only denigrate the office of the president, but it also raises the question as who is actually in charge.