Politics is a dirty, ugly game; this is a truism most people agree with. But it is also a reality others refuse to accept for reasons that range from denial to outright arrogance, or both.
If you elect to go into politics, one thing is important to bear in mind; you are literally giving up your most precious possession, your privacy; it will be invaded at all times and scrutinized endlessly. What is more, your reputation will be attacked and tarnished in the process and your ethics and integrity vigorously questioned.
An astute politician will be prepared for the onslaught of enemy fire. But some of our politicians, sad to note, aren’t ready, indeed have never been ready to take criticism in good faith.
Our President, Mr. Nana Akuffo Addo, is viewed by many of his supporters and opponents alike, as a seasoned and capable politician. He has accomplished a lot politically, including leading his party to victory in the 2016 elections. He has also served in various capacities as a state official. With the victory, Mr. Addo finally realized his childhood dreams of becoming the President of Ghana.
It is against this remarkable and experienced background that one wonders why the President hasn’t yet developed a thick skin to resist all the jabs that are thrown at him, why he does not demonstrate to all that he is not a brawler and won’t get down and dirty with his political opponents. Why doesn’t he just ignore them instead of lashing back viciously?
These questions are pertinent because it is becoming increasingly evident that Mr. Addo is more inclined to react harshly, sometimes rudely, to negative criticism leveled at him or his administration than to stay above the fray. On several occasions, Mr. Addo has not acted presidential.
One instance of the president’s abject failure to be the grown up in the room was his response earlier this year to criticisms from his political opponents about the military deal his government had reached with the United States.
Visibly angry and frustrated but nonetheless determined to take the fight to his bashers, Mr. Addo tore into them, calling his detractors hypocrites. Ghanaians were taken aback by the President’s brashness. But Mr. Addo could care less about what Ghanaians thought. He always seeks immediate gratification.
Mr. Addo’s perplexing inability to let things go, to brush aside criticisms, was on full display this week when he as usual responded angrily to unsubstantiated claims that his family is corrupt. He dismissed the accusations with a sarcastic answer:
“I want to say that the stringent and desperate efforts being made by my political opponents to tag me and members of my family with corruption will not wash. This dog will not be hanged over corruption.”
I don’t fault the President for defending his family’s honor. But in doing so, he came across as arrogant, self-conceited and heartless. The accusations of corruption did not materialize out of thin air. The president’s own actions gave rise to those accusations.
He appointed family members to key positions in government and in the Ameri deal negotiations, it was key family members who represented the country. But despite public outcry about how bad these look, Mr. Addo has remained adamant, refusing to budge.
Ghanaians are angry and frustrated; the economy is stagnant and the unemployment rate is at an all-time high. Not unexpected, they view the president’s passionate defense of his family with a heavy dose of skepticism. They know corruption is rampant in his government.
If I were a presidential adviser, I would gladly tell Mr. Addo to take a page from former President Barrack Obama’s book of patience. Obama who suffered vile abuse and biting criticism from now President Donald Trump but admirably refused to respond, not even once did Obama dignify Trump’s childish assertions that he Obama wasn’t born in the United States with an answer.
I have to admit, sometimes, it is upsetting to watch the president attack at his enemies with such intensity; I wish he would attack the country’s economic problems with the same zeal and enthusiasm.