Akufo-Addo Scores Another Public Relations Coup
He is a consummate diplomat, so I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that he was going to pull this off with no difficulty at all. I am talking about the politically refreshing decision by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to confer with the leaders of all the legitimately registered political parties in the country to deliberate on policy matters (See “Akufo-Addo Meets Leaders of Political Parties” MyJoyOnline.com 1/4/18). We are informed that it was one of the greatest diplomatic coups in the country in recent years. By my own memory, it was probably the first of its kind.
There have, of course, been those equally memorable townhall meetings made popular by former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, also of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo Tradition-inspired New Patriotic Party (NPP). They are not altogether new, and may very well have been initiated by Chairman Jerry John Rawlings in the wake of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) putsch that ousted the FWK Akuffo-led Supreme Military Council (SMC-II), but perhaps more commonly under the second Rawlings junta of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) that unseated the democratically elected Hilla “Babini” Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP).
What makes the Rawlings version of the townhall meeting especially different from the Kufuor version, is the fact that with the Rawlings version the participants were considered to be mere sounding boards. And this was perfectly understood beforehand, especially when one reckoned the fact that the metaphorical townhall meeting was completely and effectively surrounded by a uniformed goon squad, ready to strike at the least opportunity or perceived act of provocation. So the civilian participant knew precisely the kind of questions s/he was expected to pose The Chairman and his equally well-armed assigns and representatives.
In the Kufuor version, absolutely no holds were barred. It was under this unreservedly democratic culture that paradoxically incubated and hatched such social monstrosities as Appiah Stadium and Doctor Asemfoforo(bi), of blessed memory. It was chaos-verging democracy, and it continues to be with us to the present day. Nana Akufo-Addo has also had his fair share of townhall meetings and may very well have been one of the engineers of the tradition under President Kufuor’s tenure when, as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, he crafted the Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law.
But what took place at the Flagstaff House the other day was something altogether different and unique. It involved, as already noted, the movers-and-shakers of all the legally registered political parties in the country. And the agenda, we are reliably informed, had to do with the President’s electioneering campaign proposal of having all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives directly elected by the people in the shortest possible time afforded by the country’s Fourth-Republican Constitution.
And then, we are told, the modalities for the creation of new regions, and the Silver Anniversary Commemoration of the country’s Fourth Republic were also discussed. With Nana Akufo-Addo, democracy is a communal meal. The Akan have a philosophical maxim that: “When your hand is in the communal-bowl of food, you cannot complain of starvation.” Actually, the rough translation of the original maxim implies not being left behind. In other words, when Nana Akufo-Addo is in the driver’s seat, he makes sure to have everybody on board. Now, this kind of democracy is very delicious!
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 5, 2018
E-mail: [email protected]