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23.03.2009 Politics

‘Job for the Boys’ Creates Confusion!

By Statesman/PFM

One Message, One President, THREE Messengers - a spokesperson, communications director, minister of information

There is major trouble brewing at the seat of government, the Castle, over who is the final authority on communications emanating from the presidency.

According to the Statesman newspaper, despite the personal intervention of President Mills, there is an almost daily running battle between Presidential Spokesperson Mahama Ayariga and Koku Anyidoho, Communications Director at the Castle.

Indeed, so bad are the clashes that Mahama Ayariga is once again on the verge of calling it quits, after he was talked out of earlier attempts by the President and other senior members of government.

The problems stem from a personality clash. From all indications, it appears the concept of a Communications Directorate and Office of a Presidential Spokesperson, with both speaking for the President will not work.

As structured, the presidential spokesperson works under the Communications Directorate. The problem though, is that Mr Ayariga, who would most likely have been a cabinet minister if he had retained his Bawku Central seat, does not believe Mr Anyidoho is qualified to be his superior.

Mr Anyidoho however believes the former MP should seek clearance from him before signing off on any communications from the presidency, following his appointment as Communications Director.

Thus, both men have decided to report directly to the President, leading to confusion over whose word is the most authentic when transmitted by the media.

Anyidoho was Communications Director for then candidate Mills' campaign, while Ayariga was his Spokesperson. However, in the heat of the campaign, Ayariga was forced to leave the campaign and battle for his electoral life in Bawku. In his absence, Anyidoho was virtually forced to combine both roles.

Having done his terrible best to demonise the NPP as Mills"s de facto Spokesperson in the last stages of the election, he expected to be confirmed in that role as Presidential Spokesperson, only to have the rug pulled under his feet by the newly elected President.

He was not taking this slight lying down. As reported earlier by The Statesman, Mr Anyidoho maintained clandestine relations with the media, and constantly sought to know what information had been released to them while he orchestrated moves behind the scenes to have a firm footing in the Castle.

Under pressure from such hawkish party leaders as Party Chairman Kwabena Adjei and the Ahwoi brothers, the President was forced to create the ill-defined position of a Communications Director headed by the still-smarting Anyidoho, while his nemesis, Ayariga, hogged the limelight as the President's officially recognised mouthpiece.

As reported earlier by The Statesman, the turf wars began immediately Anyidoho was given a confirmed role in the communications arena, with both men sizing each other up and on a number of occasions, and contradicting each other on government policy and direction on a number of media platforms.

These public displays of one-upmanship have resulted in several clashes. The latest clash was triggered by who President Mills" target was when he 'boomed' that he was the only sitting President of Ghana.

While Ayariga sought to cast the Minority in Parliament, who had earlier warned they would "advise themselves” if the attacks on NPP supporters nationwide continued as the cause of the president's ire, Koku Anyidoho told Accra's Citi FM Prof Mills had Nana Akufo-Addo in mind in his statement.

According to our sources at the Castle, while both men were essentially correct in their interpretations of the President's intent, the doves within the Castle, including Messrs Ayariga and John Mahama, believed it was better to shift the posts against the Minority, while the hawks, a leading member of which is Koku Anyidoho, insisted the true story should be told - that Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP needed to be told in no uncertain terms that their actions were casting their boss in a bad light.

The President, our sources say, was virtually coerced to react to scary reports supplied by the hawks within the Castle on the reception accorded the NPP flagbearer for 2008 on his arrival at the airport last Sunday.

In particular, the report of National Security Adviser Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, which painted the picture of an imminent coup, goaded the President into making those pronouncements, deep throat sources told this paper.

President Mills, already facing charges of inaction in the face of increasing attacks on NPP supporters across the country, is now caught between the doves and the hawks who have set up camp in the Castle.

The former law lecturer is a very unhappy man, our sources say.

Anyidoho Refuses To Comment On Ayariga's Resignation

The Communications Director of the Presidency, Mr. Koku Anyidoho has refused to comment to the media on the newspaper reports that a major trouble is brewing at the seat of government between him and the presidential spokesperson, Mr. Mahama Ayariga. The Statesman newspaper this morning reported that there is an almost daily running battle between Mr. Koku Anyidoho and Mahama Ayariga over who is the final authority on communications emanating from the presidency and that Ayariga was allegedly on the verge of calling it quits.

Mr. Koku Anyidoho and Mahama Ayariga are both serving in the communications department at the presidency, where Mr. Anyidoho is the communications director and Mr. Ayariga the presidential spokesperson, but the paper said the two are fighting over who is superior and who serves under who? In an interview with Peacefmonline, Mr. Koku Anyidoho refused to comment on the report, saying “I won't comment.” When he was pressed further by our reporter, John Nyaaba, he added, “whether it is true or not, I will not comment or explain anything to the media”, and ordered the reporter to hang up.

In a separate interview with Mr. Ayariga at 7:20 this morning, he politely said, he had not read the story in the newspaper so he could not comment on it, adding, “I will talk to you after reading the story”.

Reacting to this, the managing editor of the Insight newspaper, Mr. Kwesi Pratt has criticised the presidency. He said “the President need not have a spokesperson, a communications director, and a minister of information. It is just increasing the number of ministers, and this can make president Mills' lean government initiative unsuccessful, he added on Peace FM's 'Kokrookoo' Morning show.