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By: Benjamin Akakpo
Your Excellency, may you live long! May the good people of Ghana live long!! May Ghana Herself, our beloved Motherland, live long!!!
I listened, like an animal transfixed in the light cast by a speeding vehicle, to the words of your selected High Commissioner of Ghana to South Africa, Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng, as he spoke to some student supporters of the New Patriotic Party. I had to listen to the recording of his speech a second time to actually confirm that my dismay was not unfounded. I was stunned, incensed and disappointed all rolled into one as I digested his puerile, very undiplomatic and unconscionable loose talk. Sad to say, Mr. President, some members of your party have jumped to the defence of Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng. They have attempted defending the indefensible; they have spoken, among other things, of how rife discrimination was on a partisan basis under the erstwhile NDC administration. I am no politician and I have no interest whatsoever in jumping on the local partisan political bandwagon, at least not at present. But let me remind you, Your Excellency, that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander; and if I may add, what is bad for the goose is also bad for the gander. If the NDC dabbled in such unpalatable discrimination at some point and it bode ill for some, why should the NPP go down the same path? Until we rein in such careless and irresponsible politicians and actions, partisan politics in our country will continue to have a bad name. I know you to be one who advocates "clean" politics; you also did say you wanted to be a president for ALL Ghanaians. I do not want to believe that position, adopted by you, has changed, Mr. President. Or has it?
Your Excellency, I read yesterday evening an apology of sorts purported to emanate from Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng. The question on my mind, though, is: "What has changed?" Only two days ago, after public outcry over his irresponsible comments, the man in question went on, in the manner of Pontius Pilate in the Bible, to suggest that "what he had said, he had said." I think that reaffirmation of what he meant and believes, even assuming his initial comments were not egregious enough, only showed how arrogant and inept he is for the role you have assigned him. So, going back to my question: "What has changed?" This man, palpably, has been made to issue an apology that is not reflective of his true sentiments; if he is sorry for anything, it is for getting caught in flagrante delicto. In a nutshell, it is my candid opinion that, though Mr. Ayisi-Boateng may never broach the subject under consideration ever again, his plans, however, remain part and parcel of him and he will execute them to the letter should he be given the opportunity to do so. The man made his point clear when capping off all his shameful rhetoric in the words: "It is because of the NPP that I am here. The NPP man is my priority... Take it or leave it!" Should we understand his very lucid statement in any way other than how everyone already understands them? The furore generated by his comments and the backlash the NPP is grappling with, I am persuaded, has caused him to issue this apology. I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, though, that he will, if given the nod to stay on in his position, do what he said he would - even if in less overt ways.
A leopard cannot change its spots even if it wanted to; in like manner, I believe this representative of yours (I say "yours," sir, since it is obvious, from his own statements, that he does not represent all Ghanaians but only a section of our citizenry) should be made to understand, through dismissal from the very high office he has assumed, that such dangerously divisive tendencies have no place in our body politic. A failure to firmly affirm what our constitution itself endorses in article 17(1): "All persons shall be equal before the law; article 17 (2): "A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion creed or social or economic status"; and article 17(3): "For the purposes of this article, 'discriminate' means to give different treatment to different persons attributable only or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, POLITICAL OPINIONS, colour, gender, occupation, religion or creed, whereby persons of one description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another description are not made subject or are granted privileges or advantages which are not granted to persons of another description," Your Excellency, will only serve to embolden other like-minded people who occupy political office (and mind you, sir, when I use "political office" here, I use it in a free-flowing sense: past, present and future) to believe they can act in similar ways - flout our laws with impunity, abuse the offices they occupy, and get away with it all. Mr. Ayisi-Boateng's disgraceful behaviour stinks to the high heavens, Mr. President, and I hope you have caught a whiff of the stench. Let's call a spade a spade, sir, not a big spoon.
A mere apology, I humbly suggest, cannot and will not placate the good people of Ghana in this matter. This errant appointee must go! Retaining him at post will be nothing less than a slap in the face of Ghanaians; you will be rubbing salt in the wounds of us all if you did that, Your Excellency. Yes, we shall accept his apology only insofar as his regret for having said what he did is concerned; but where his retention in office comes into the picture, no apology can wipe out of our minds what sheer crass he has displayed through this unfortunate incident.
The little I know about you, Your Excellency, tells me that you are a man who tries to keep his word. You may have faltered in some areas as far as walking your talk is concerned. But who, sir, is perfect? Who is without foibles? I can pardon you for not giving the sack to Mr. William Quaitoo, your former Deputy Minister for Agriculture, who spewed ethnocentrism in a manner that forced him, eventually, to flee his office with his tail between his legs. At the time, people called on you to show leadership by firing the man. Sadly, Your Excellency, you failed to act when it was needed the most. It took the man's own resignation to bring a close to that infernal affair. Now, Your Excellency, you have a golden opportunity dangling right under your nose to set things right - to show the world that you can look beyond partisan politics and crack the whip when need be. This High Commissioner, in the person of Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng, has shown through his rather cynical comments, unimaginable amateurishness. He has brought your government, and indeed, the name of Ghana, into disrepute. It is my humble belief that you would be doing yourself, your party and the entire country a great disservice if you retained him at post.
Here is what I foresee happening if you remain lethargic in these momentous times: like with a certain Donald Trump who, owing to his own narcissistic tendencies, racist and vitriolic outbursts coupled with his uncanny ability to perfom political pirouettes - completely change the tune he sings on a particular issue in a matter of minutes (and sometimes even return to adopt a posture he had previously eschewed) and claim he had never said anything of the sort (most people call that lying by the way), has now become an easy target for his detractors and a comical figure for the media across the world, even in pro-American countries where erstwhile leaders of the United States were hardly criticised, I envisage that, should you decide to let this matter slide, it could come back to haunt you in ways you cannot even begin to imagine right now. Chickens, as the saying goes, always come back to roost.
I wish you well - the very best in all you do. But my pen, Mr. President, is a double-edged sword: I laud and I condemn. Whatever your actions spur me to write, Your Excellency, you can be sure that I shall - without fear or favour. This is what we are here for as media people - to focus the lenses of all and sundry on goings-on in our country and beyond - on both the ills and the gains we make as a people. I look forward to saying positive things about you on this matter. Let not this opportunity slip to be the man who walks his talk. Miss this golden opportunity, and you may rue it for a long time to come. But, then again who am I to give you counsel? I'm no more than a youth myself, who possesses a wealth of knowledge on myriad issues, but doubtless nowhere near your vast knowledge and experience in the sphere of governance. Maybe all I've spewed is horsefeathers to you. Maybe not. This much I know, though: whatever action you take on this issue will be judged in the court of public opinion - in the court of people's hearts. I shudder to think of what decision the hoi polloi will arrive at concerning this burning issue, should you simply remain silent or fail to act in the ways that a considerable number of well-meaning Ghanaians are urging you to. Please do not cover up wrong; expose it and let the heads that must roll do so. Enough is the word that is spoken to the prudent. I believe I have already spoken too much and too long, which happens, by the way, when I am passionate about something. May God be your help, Your Excellency, as you rule His people - in the ways He requires of you. God be with and guide you.
#TruthStands #SayNOtoDiscrimination #SackAyisi-BoatengNow
Source: The writer is the host of Authors’ Haven on Class91.3FM