If you live by the sword, you die by the sword as an old adage projects. So, it goes without saying that whatever politicians say in the public space in their ultimate quest to win the hearts of voters will come back to haunt them down the road.
This is the noose President Nana Akuffo Addo put around his neck the other day when he unflinchingly told Ghanaians that he welcomes constructive criticism.
I don’t for a minute buy into the President’s boldfaced assertion that he has suddenly changed his ways. He has not; he is just a modern day politician desperately trying to restore faith in his leadership against the backdrop of public dissatisfaction, bad economic news, high unemployment and higher food and fuel prices.
Nonetheless, Mr. Addo doesn’t need to worry. He should rest easy; he will certainly be inundated with an avalanche of criticism, some of it vile, unsettling and diametrically opposed to his position, and others constructive, reassuring and much in line with his views.
But the lingering question on the minds of Ghanaians is this: given Mr. Addo’s temperament, his overt sensitivity, his contemptuous disregard for opposing views and his propensity to stick to his guns no matter what, will he find the will power, the fortitude, the inner strength and tolerance to absorb divergent viewpoints from his ideological enemies who will stop at nothing to get his political scalp?
Do we trust Mr. Addo, metaphorically, the father of the nation to rise above hyper partisanship and acknowledge and accept, even if grudgingly, inputs from the minority in parliament and from a cross section of the Ghanaian public for that matter on how to best govern the country?
I harbor serious doubts about the president’s capacity to countenance different viewpoints. He has demonstrated over the last 18 months that he can barely stand those who oppose his policy prescriptions for the nation’s ills.
Remember on important policy issues, instead of acknowledging the views of the opposition in good faith, he has instead called it names and disparaged its most vociferous members. The only possible rationale for the President’s intolerance is that he feels threatened by the notion that the opposition may have better ideas than he does.
When it is all said and done, what has come across is Mr. Addo’s arrogance. The mere suggestion that he is open to constructive criticism smacks of insolence and complete disregard for political norms. Criticism comes in all forms and as president, you must tolerate all. You must rise above everyone else.
And, do you know who has been instrumental in Nana’s intransigence? The Ghanaian media that is who. Those of us in the media have shirked our responsibility of holding the government accountable in the face of glaring missteps and corruption. We have become supplicants and water carriers for the ruling party.
Let me be precise here by pointing an accusing finger at the main culprit, the major enabler of Nana --- Joy News and its affiliates. Joys News is the fifth column of the NPP; it is a state media organization so far I am concerned.
With its vast influence and wealth, Joy News could have kept this government on its toes like it did to Mahama. But it has unfortunately been cowardly in its coverage of the NPP and Ghanaians, as a consequence, are paying a huge price for the government’s incompetence.
Nana should gear up for more severe criticism of his policies, which when closely examined, have largely been a catastrophic failure.