In the ensuing chaos and controversy over whether “Team Mills” is 'lean' or 'obese', one thing is crystal clear, in his first assignment as the Pre. Mills' chief spin-doctor, Efo (or Cocky) Koku has cocked-up big time. He has given us the taste of what to expect in the next four tormenting years. We are in the run for another four tormenting years of another “Asabee”, unless President Mills saves us from the claws of 'Cocky Koku' (henceforth will be abbreviated as Mr. CK), if President Mills wish to fulfil his promise to the Ghanaians for bringing change. I read over and over again Cocky Koku's rejoinder to Ato's article and the only prayer on my lips and in my heart is, Oh God, what have done wrong again, you can't punish us with four years of another 'Asabee'. Please God we don't want to ask you to send us another Brother Moses.
It is not within the framework of this article to argue on whether 'Team Mills' is 'lean' or 'obese' but rather I will limit it to the performance of Efo (or Cocky) Koku's performance, in his first assignment as the director of communication or government's chief spin doctor. Having read Mr.CK's article over and over again, it is difficult not to believe, that his position is another 'job for the boys'. In his 2400 word article, Mr.CK used more than half to unleash his venom on Ato, and the rest to desperately justify his position. At the end I still couldn't figure out what exactly Mr.CK was trying to arrive at. However in less than thirty words, the former director of communication for Tony Blair was able to explain his position on his blog “Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy (www.alastair campbell.org)” The roles mentioned above can be identified with his role in spin doctoring for the labour government on the sexing-up of Iraq's Dossier among other political challenges. (I will discuss this later).
As I read Mr.CK's rejoinder I couldn't fathom how he hold himself as the PRO of the President when he himself could do with some PRO services, to guide him on how to use language to present his views to the public
At the onset of his desperate attempt to defend the indefensible, Mr. CK, exposed himself to ridicule with regards use of language as he boastfully asserts: “As a professional, I have restrained myself from allowing the ignorance of certain persons and their discourse, to draw me into an ignorance-filled debate, However, when Ato Kwamena Dadzie decides to move the ignorance-filled discourse to absurd levels, it is only proper that I do my utmost best to clear some of the cobwebs in the head of Ato Kwamena Dadzie. ” I wonder what kind of a professional Mr.CK is, when even in face of what he perceived as 'provocation' he couldn't use his professional expertise to approach the issue professionally rather than resorting to abusive phrases as highlighted above.
Secondly Mr. CK, did not exhibit his professional credentials in the following response either as he states,“In the first place, if Ato Kwamane Dadzie thinks that all that is done by way of running a communications outfit, is to issue releases and speak, then he can afford to swim in his sea of ignorance... I am not about to be the fly that follows the corpse into the grave and so I will not run through my schedule with a comb. Mr.CK, what Ato and other well meaning Ghanaians who voted your party into power and also paying your huge salary is in the simplest terms, 'educate' us on your position as Alastair Campbell did in less than thirty words.
Thirdly, Mr.CK was quick to suggest to Ato to visit White house home page to find out the roles of Director of Communication and Press Secretary, ironically as the director of government communication he has not uploaded such information on the government's website, so that well meaning Ghanaians can go and find out-Another reason why I wonder whether Mr.CK is fit to hold the office of the director of communication for the government. Instead of putting the information on the government website for all Ghanaians and the whole world to access, Mr. CK rather asked the 20million Ghanaians to march past his office for a copy of his job description as he states “Indeed, if Ato Kwamena Dadzie, (and the Ghanaian tax payers) has the time, he (they) can pass by my office and I will give him (and them) the job description of myself and Mahama Ayariga…” (Emphasis mine)
Last but not the least; Mr. CK does not understand why Ato and other well meaning Ghanaians will question his position in government, if he has held the same position in opposition. What Mr.CK fails to understand is that, in opposition President Mills is at liberty to create as many spin doctors as he wish so long as he pays their wages from his own pocket, however in government, the Ghanaian tax payers will not sit down and look while he creates jobs for the boys, for the tax payer to pick up the bills.
In my earlier article on the public forum of Joy Fm in July 2008, I warned that, the NPP government is simply carrying on with the mode of governance that characterised earlier regimes. I emphasised that the NPP government is exhibiting lack of understanding of the importance of language in post modern democracy and its ministers has become what I termed as 'Democratic Dictators'.
Postmodern democracy is a system of governance that recognises the preservation of individual liberty and survives on active maintenance of the institutions of civil society where public servants learn respect for the Ghanaian voters as well as self–respect. Where Public servants acquire lively sense of their personal and civic responsibilities along with an appreciation of the rights of the Ghanaian voters; where Public servants develop skills of self-government as well as the habit of governing Ghanaian voters, and learn to serve the Ghanaian voters, not just their selfish interest. For far too long, Ghanaian leaders have lived beyond reproach both in military and democratic regimes to the extent that more than a decade and half of continuous democratic dispensation our political leaders have not come to terms with accommodating dissent views- A basic tenet of democracy.
If there is any field of governance that the past NPP government failed miserable is its ability to master the art of using language in governance. Despite some laudable achievements of the NPP government in terms of economy, education, health and freedom of speech, it lacked the creativity to master the use of language to respond to dissent views as well as explain some of its contested policies and actions to the masses e.g. sale of GT and pair trawling. Having people like Hon. Asamoah Boateng, Hon Kojo Mpiani, and Hon. Gladys Asmah, inter alia to justify certain difficult decisions of the government was a shot in the foot.
Language and Governance
Fairclough (2000) in his book 'New Labour, New Language” explored the importance of providing the right information in the right language to post-modern democracy. Fairclough asserts that, language has become more important in post modern democracy due to social changes which have transformed politics and governments. One important part of these social changes is the 'new relationship between politics, government and the mass media'. The language of political leaders is now recognized as a crucial factor in political success or failure.
Bourdieu (1992), in his book “Language and Symbolic Power”, also explains that language in not simply to produce grammatically correct sentences; they must be listened to (i.e. heard) and recognized as acceptable in a particular field (i.e. acknowledged by the receiver as legitimate) where the speaker has the right to speak in a particular context/situation. Foucault (1994) in his book 'Power and Subjectivity' discusses not only how language could be use as a weapon for political gains but also how it could be used to create a balanced and accountable governance that will be acceptable to all. Foucault concludes that this new power of language when properly used can create as much acceptance from the citizens as power holders may wish for, it can stomach any political turmoil and shelter itself behind any threat that it will perceive, as we will find out in the two examples discussed below.
Blair's government was vindicated by Lord Hutton inquiry on WMD, and even went on to subsequently win the general election in 2005. This can chiefly be attributed to the power of language- A skill that New Labour spin doctors, championed by Alistair Campbell, have creatively mastered.
The verdict to such an unprofessional answers provided by Efo Koku can be strict or sympathetic. Whether to be strict (but fair) or sympathetic with the verdict, I still find it difficult to justify why Mr.CK should keep his position.
A strict but fair verdict will be to classify his response as arrogance-A typical characteristic of Democratic Dictators who use such arrogant language to answer taxpayers' legitimate concern, with the aim to silence the masses and their critics and succeeding in eschewing being call to accountability.
A sympathetic verdict will imply excusing, Efo Koku's behaviour as a victim of political immaturity due to his lack of understanding of how governments operate in a post-modern society and the complexity and ever changing face of post-modern democracy. Even in the face of the above excuse and other excuses such as; Efo Koku may have aimed his response to his political opponents, it will be naïve on the part of Efo Koku to assume that the question is only raised by people with political vendetta and hence such a hostile answer. Moreover he ought to know that, he is not addressing his political opponents and/or supporters but Ghana as a whole. Ghana as a country can not gamble with the development of its infant democracy by putting immature politicians in such a high esteemed position.
The future of Mills, government lies in its willingness and ability to adopt the concept of 'inclusive governance'. I don't mean the inclusion of opposition in government but a government that will govern the country as an inclusive society, where everyone–or every significant group- has a voice and where these voices are heard either through representation on the basis of identity- women speak for women, ethnicity, religious affiliations inter alia- or indirectly through advocacy groups or voluntary association. The success of President Mills' government lies in the central question of whom and whose interests are represented at any level of government and whose interest prevails? At this juncture I called on Cocky Koku to apologise unreservedly to the good people of Ghana or risk being sacked by the President. Mr. President you said accountability awaits you at the end of your term, and I can assure you that if you keep such people in your government, you will not take delight in reading your terminal report. Over to you, Mr. President!
Adamu Abdallah Awudu
P.O. Box 11444
Email: [email protected]