The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is making strenuous, back-breaking efforts to court a group of journalists dubbed, 'Coffee Shop Mafia' to its side, in its bid to win back power in 2008. The party, which was having a running battle with the media, said it needed the support of the critical Labone Coffee Shop Mafia to make headway in its quest to annex power in 2008.
At a press soiree in Accra last Friday, December 29, 2006, major front-liners in the party virtually fell over Kweku Baako, editor in chief of Crusading Guide, who was seen as the chief spokesman of the 'mafia group', pleading that he turned his voice more favourably to the party.
Kweku Baako was the toast of the NDC high-flyers, as everyone wanted to have the attention of the unofficial boss of the Labone Mafia group, dreaded by no mean a personality than the former President Jerry John Rawlings, as evidenced by Special Aide, Victor Emmanuel Smith's utterances.
The NDC gurus at the soiree conceded that after being in opposition for six years, they were dying to snatch power from the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), as being in opposition was a nightmare.
Re-elected flagbearer Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, who was all toothpaste smiles, fawned over Mr. Baako and personally served his favourite Cognac to the Crusading Guide arrowhead. The Professor, desperate to win his support, walked twice to the serving table and refilled Baako's glass with Cognac, as he interacted for over one and a half hours with journalists in apparent exhibition of his physical fitness, which had been called to question during campaigning.
Several cameras, both still and video, clicked rapidly the group photographs of members of the 'mafia' with the NDC flagbearer, as well as other leading members of the party. It was believed these would feature prominently on the pages of the seven local newspapers considered to be favourites of the NDC. The professor spent the greater part of the time at the soiree socialising and virtually at the service of the vocal journalists, while contemporaneously throwing the most special of all gestures at other members.
As if well strategised and rehearsed to near perfection, other leading members were spotted wooing the very journalists whom many of them had openly branded “paid agents” to destroy their party.
Mr. Victor Smith, special aide to Rawlings, was spotted engaging in one of his most intimate discussions ever with Ghanaian Observer's Egbert Faibille, while Gabby Otchere-Darko, Editor-in-Chief of The Statesman, and Kwame Sefa Kayi of Peace FM, were also sandwiched hours on end, in marathon hugging, pecking and patting.
When at a time, Mills' campaign director, Nii Lante Vanderpuye touched the sitting President with unsavoury remarks, the former vice president frowned at the uncultured attitude and was heard openly rebuking his man to the hearing of other journalists.
“Who asked him to say that? This is uncalled for,” he shouted at the boxing commentator.
In fact, the Ahwoi brothers, Kwamena and Kwesi, and a number of gurus, glaringly embarrassed by the insults hurled at President Kufuor, swiftly called Nii Lante to order in a manner that left observers speechless because ordinarily, such behaviour would have been applauded by the party's henchmen.
It would be recalled that leading members of the NDC and its sympathetic journalists derogatorily branded a group of friends who meet regularly at Labone Coffee Shop, a pub in Accra for a drink or two and engage in friendly chatter, as the 'Coffee Shop Mafia'.
The group had since been mauled, taunted, vilified, bashed and labeled as being pro-government and on the pay-roll of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by the NDC activists, serial callers and commentators.
At an open air press conference held recently under a nim tree in his residence, the founder of the party, former President Rawlings, threatened both officially and in undertones, those media practitioners perceived to be against the party.
Mr. Harry Sawyer, member of the Council of Elders of the party, and Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, Mills' running mate in the 2004 presidential race, were also present at the Mills' soiree. Mr. Kwame Peprah, former finance minister, was there to grace the occasion.
He was one of the earliest personalities to arrive and the last to leave in his metallic ash-coloured Nissan Patrol Cross Country Vehicle. The soiree was well attended with its side attraction, as Mr. Eddie Annan, business tycoon and a failed presidential aspirants, personally took the stage and backed the live band to sing some old rock n' roll and countryside music.
A number of journalists also seized the opportunity to heal old wounds. For instance, Egbert Faibille and Kwesi Pratt, managing editor of Insight were spotted in discussions that seemed to suggest that the law suit between them would not run its full course in the courts.
Jabbing Faibille in the biceps, Pratt told a number of reporters that nothing could mar the long-standing relationship between them. Baako also stated that contrary to public perception, there was no bad blood between him and Pratt