By Margaret Jackson
In his book, “The Voice of the People, Public Opinion and Democracy”, James S. Fishkin has this to say, “Ours is an era of stunted public discourse, where instant polls, 900 numbers, orchestrated petitions, and talk-show campaigning appear to have overwhelmed participatory democracy. What has become of the freely reasoned public debate and informed “consent of the governed” that, as cherished principle, we hold will produce better leaders and better public decisions? Where-or what-is the voice of the people today?”
The voice of the people to me has most of the time turn out to be the voice of God. Therefore, if something pertinent pops up in society, or in the countryside, and you have multiple people adding their voices to that issue, leaders in responsible positions in those areas have risen to the occasion to address those issues to put it to bed. That is why when there was public outcry on the recent fuel price increases in Nigeria and Ghana, the governments of both countries responded positively by reversing the fuel increases.
It is also not uncommon to see some politicians doing the right thing for their constituents by resigning from their positions when found wanting in order to save those who elected them to office from public mockery and shame. I remember US President Barak Obama, admitting before he was elected to office, to have experimented with drugs during his youthful days. To me it rather shows strength when people admit to their youthful indiscretions, apologize, ask for forgiveness and move on or put those issues to bed. That to me is strength rather than weakness. That to me is honesty at its best.
There is this unending story about NPP’s Flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, which I believe if not fully addressed by him and him alone, will chase him even to his grave and beyond. Even little school kids have come to know that Akufo-Addo is not clean when it comes to drug issues. Akufo-Addo is on record to have gone to the Central Region to do door-to-door campaign. In the course of the door-to-door campaign which the NPP has qualified it as a listening tour, Akufo-Addo went to a certain school and it was horrifying that when a certain little boy spotted Akufo-Addo, he blurted out “Naa Nana, Naa Cocaine.” This is how dangerous the situation has become for Akufo-Addo. And it amazes me that the NPP thinks it is okay; therefore, they have done virtually nothing to address this cancerous issue.
It beats the imagination of every sensible human being that Akufo-Addo has decided to remain silent, thinking that if Ghanaians get tired of saying that he is a drug abuser they would stop. Can you imagine that? There have been countless of people who have openly challenged Akufo-Addo to do three simple things to get this issue buried forever. The first is for him to deny the drug abuse by addressing his supporters openly on the issue. The second thing is for Akufo-Addo to admit it, ask Ghanaians to forgive him, promise never to dabble in drugs again, and move on with his campaign. Lastly, Ghanaians would like Akufo-Addo to submit himself to a credible clinic and asked to be tested for drug abuse. If he had done any of these three things, the drug abuse issue hanging on his head as an albatross would have long gone away.
But Akufo-Addo’s so-called advisers and campaign staff have deceived him into believing that silent is golden, therefore, he does not care a hoot about what people are saying about his drug use, thinking that the most important thing to do is to continue to dream to become president of Ghana. What a dream!
Many prominent Ghanaians have voiced their concerns to this drug abuse issue by Akufo-Addo. Those who have openly challenged Akufo-Addo include Kofi Wayo, Dr. Tony Aidoo and a host of many others. But the response from the Akufo-Addo camp has always been the usual “I won’t say anything, I won’t mind anybody.” And the issue continues to linger on, whilst Akufo-Addo continues to limp for cover.
The latest to forcefully add his voice to this drug abuse story is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sene, Felix Twumasi Appiah (NDC) who goaded his colleague MP, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong (NPP, Assin North) to produce Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for a test at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to establish who between them is a wee smoker.
Twumasi Appiah, Chairman of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Communications became angry and issued that challenge when Ken Agyapong called him a wee smoker. What Twumasi Appiah did immediately thrust the cocaine abuse issue of Akufo-Addo back to the centre of the political spectrum. And with this issue coming on the heels of the arrest of the mastermind of the still unresolved Ghana’s biggest cocaine deal with a street value of $438.9 million, the situation does not look good for Akufo-Addo. Because going forward, anytime Asem Darke’s issue is raised Akufo-Addo and the NPP will feel uncomfortable thinking somebody is out to get them. Remember the old lady feeling uncomfortable when dry bones are mentioned in conversations?
This is the more reason why Akufo-Addo should have done the most honourable thing for the NPP, his close associates, family and to large extent we the Ghanaians he is keenly looking forward to govern if we should make the mistake of electing him as the next president, by coming clean on the drug abuse issue. Akufo-Addo has stonewalled for far too long and this is not helping him today or tomorrow. And he should know that this is one issue which will continue to haunt his campaign this year. Akufo-Addo got the best chance yet to address the issue once and for all, when Wikileaks confirmed or established that he indeed has problems waking up and walking straight without first having to bath his head with a cloud of thick smoke.
If the NPP is foolishly thinking that they can stonewall their way to victory in 2012, then they are dead wrong. They are mistaken, because people will still push for answers from Akufo-Addo. Sometimes I blame the clergy and some church leaders in the country for some of the social ills we are seeing in the country today. I bet if President Mills has been accused of being a drug abuser, most of these prominent church leaders turned quasi politicians including Archbishop Palmer-Buckle, would have condemned the act and asked President Mills to step aside. Why all these church leaders have kept quiet on Akufo-Addo’s issue is understandable because most of them openly pander towards the NPP, therefore, they do not see the need to question the choice of the party even if he is a junkie who can implode on Ghanaians.
It has been seven long years when the news first broke out that Akufo-Addo cannot wake up from bed, open his eyes and talk to people without the help of “ganger”. But it has taken Akufo-Addo seven years to dribble everybody by keeping mute on the issue. It has also taken the NPP seven years to continue to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians by defending Akufo-Addo that he is clean, when in fact the very accused person has said virtually nothing about the issue. It has also taken seven long years for Ghanaians to patiently wait for Akufo-Addo to do the most honourable thing ever in his life by admitting or denying the drug abuse charge.
I must inform Akufo-Addo that the patience of Ghanaians is waning. The election time is drawing close. And Ghanaians would not want to make the mistake of electing someone who in the course of his presidency may attempt to remove his clothing in public, if God forbid something should trigger his brain. Therefore, think again, Akufo-Addo, do you have the interest of Ghana at heart? Are you transformational enough to swallow your pride and do the right thing for your party and Ghanaians by addressing the drug abuse issue once and for all? Currently you are being accused of issuing our cherished diplomatic passport to a drug baron who is languishing in jail in far away Brazil. Is this the most transformational thing to do? Nana,we are waiting to see what you would do this time round, because your silence in this instance is indeed not golden!