25.01.2023 Feature Article

It Was His Own Hubris and Vaulting Ambition that Did Spio in…

It Was His Own Hubris and Vaulting Ambition that Did Spio in
25.01.2023 LISTEN

As I vividly recall, even as the Chairman Jeremiah “Jerry” John Rawlings-appointed Ambassador to the United States of America, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah did not acquit himself creditably and had to be literally expelled by the Clinton Administration. That was during the dying years of the 1990s. I personally remember writing and publishing a front-page article in the defunct leading African-American weekly called The New York City Sun, in which I scathingly cautioned Mr. Spio-Garbrah against his insufferably abrasive and infantile tendency to publicly joust with the Government of the United States, especially officials of the US Foreign Ministry or the Department of State, anytime that a controversial news event made the media headlines.

He was, of course, not the only Continental African Diplomat stationed or resident in the District of Columbia, as Washington, DC, is also sometimes called. But Spio always found time and the means to rudely and crudely behave as if he was the smartest and the most eloquent self-appointed spokesperson for the Continental African Diplomatic Corps. So, it came as absolutely no surprise that he was not to last long at his post in the US capital. In mainstream Anglo-American parlance, Spio, as he is popularly and affectionately known and called, felt too big for his breeches or pants. But what is especially significant to note here is that in President William Jefferson “Bill” Blye Clinton, the United States had the most cordial pro-African leader since President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, affectionately initialed as “JFK.”

In effect, asking Spio-Garbrah to immediately evacuate from Washington DC’s diplomatic community, one of the largest and most prestigious and, arguably, the most significant of its kind around the globe, clearly meant that Ghana’s Chief Diplomat to the most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world was behaviorally egregious in ways that went well beyond the pale of tolerance. Well, about a quarter-century later, the details of the decision by powerful insiders of the Clinton Administration to expel Ambassador Spio-Garbrah from the United States of America, where the latter had also partially schooled, naturally escape yours truly, except for the fact that it had to do with the Liberian Civil War and, I suspect, the response of the Government of Ghana to some fleeing Liberian refugees ferried to the country’s western port of Sekondi-Takoradi under circumstances considered murky by the Rawlings regime.

At any rate, not surprisingly, in Ghana, Ambassador Spio-Garbrah would be thunderously hailed as a hero among the vanguard ranks of the operatives of the Rawlings Government and be almost immediately elevated to the enviable status of Education Minister. As a person, however, the Cape Coast or Elmina (or Edina) native, from Ghana’s Central Region, has always been envisaged to be pathologically afflicted with vaulting leadership or political ambitions in ways that have tended to come off to his fellow truckers as strategically and insufferably offensive, because it also well appears that this much-touted communications or media specialist or expert, the Dear Reader may choose his or her pick, has a seemingly insurmountable problem with healthily sharing competitive political space with his fellow stalwart operatives and apparatchiks of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a militant and “revolutionary” political establishment that has long been considered to be jampacked with a rollcall of “Who’s Who” among the most prominent political figures in the party who are of Ewe, Fante and, relatively recently, Gonja and/or northern-Ghanaian ethnicity or descent.

On the latter count, Spio strikingly reminds this writer of a recently deceased maternal uncle. Like this author’s late uncle, it is almost as if “Speedo-Spio” can only envisage himself being successful by making his fellow equally ambitious competitors feel much smaller and significantly far less in status and stature than himself. For example, in 2006, or thereabouts, when Spio decided to gun for the Presidential Nomination Ticket of the National Democratic Congress, the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization felt the imperative need to constantly remind party stalwarts and supporters who might have so soon forgotten the fact that the equally ambitious Mr. John Dramani Mahama was once Spio’s “nobody” Deputy Communications Minister, when the latter was the substantive Communications Minister.

In the case of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, at the time the Rawlings-coronated dynastic Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress, Spio-Garbrah felt the imperative necessity to remind all who cared to listen or hear him out that the former University of Ghana professor of law was in ill-health and therefore too much of a “damaged good beyond repair” to be reckoned to be a serious Presidential Nominee for the party. Now that he has, once again, begun putting out feelers in another likely disastrous run for the presidential nomination of the NDC in the leadup to the 2024 General Election, we are sure to witness the same “PHD” tactics in play here (See “Decision to Contest Atta-Mills for NDC Flagbearership May Have Been an Error – Spio-Garbrah” 1/23/23).

It is not clear what electioneering-campaign strategy he intends to deploy against Messrs. Kojo (Kwadwo) Bonsu, the former Kumasi mayor, and Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, the former Governor of the Bank of Ghana and, subsequently, Finance Minister. I sincerely don’t see that Spio has any chance against Dr. Duffuor, the latter aspiring candidate’s troubles with the banking collapse saga notwithstanding. Not even a proverbial Chinaman’s Chance against the twice-defeated Mr. John “European Airbus Payola” Dramani Mahama, of the Lemon Ambulance Importation Scandal. The former one-term and six-month President, even as one savvy pundit recently pointed out, is a candidate who would not qualify to serve at the Presidency for more than single term, should he emerge triumphant, accidentally, in the 2024 Presidential Election.

There is widespread speculation in some political quarters that a pathologically megalomaniacal Mr. Mahama could very well be studiously scheming to find his way back to Jubilee House, in a bid to having Ghana’s 1992 Constitution amended, custom-tailored fashion, to enable the Ouagadougou-Flying Guinea-Fowl Man to prolong his total number of years in office, and in the record books, to at least a dozen and one-half years. To the preceding, I say “Goodluck, Okogufuo Kwame Gonja!”

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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 23, 2023
E-mail: [email protected]