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Too Much Governmental Spinning Turns The Head Giddy!   
 
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01-Dec-2014  
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One of our famous proverbs has it that “if nothing touches the dry fronds of the fallen palm tree, the dried leaves do not make a loud noise.”

The lesson in the proverb is that if one sees dried palm fronds on the ground and one does not avoid stepping on them, then they will make a crackling noise and scare away any animal one might be stalking.

I was reminded of this proverb when I read the statement put out by the erstwhile Chairman of the Narcotics Control Board, Naval Captain Assasie-Gyimah, on the dissolution of the Governing Board of NACOB.

The statement came straight from his heart and probably, his own pen. In fact, it was so impassioned that President John Mahama made another imprudent comment that relayed indirectly to the cocaine smuggling issue. The NACOB Governing Board (he was reported to have said) had been dissolved because it had reached the “expiry” of its term.

“Yieee!” I said to myself when I read that. It is bad enough dissolving a Board which could not have had a direct hand in the smuggling of cocaine from the Kotoka International Airport to London. But to tell the public that its dissolution had nothing to do with the scandal takes official “double-think” to a completely new level.

For let us suppose, for a moment, that the reason given by the President is genuine and that the Board’s term had expired. Is the President telling us that in announcing the dissolution of the Board whilst a storm raged over the cocaine smuggling scandal, he could possibly be unaware that the public would inevitably add two and two together and get four? (Not five!)

In fact, it would be extremely dangerous for our head of state to be so insensitive towards the feelings of the people he has sworn to serve that he does not take account of the possible interpretations they would put on his executive actions.

And it would be a double calamity to our nation if indeed there is no-one within the presidency who could have advised him that the dissolution of the Board at that time would be interpreted as being connected with the raging cocaine smuggling scandal.

Did the Secretary to the President question the President’s proposed action before it was announced? What about the Chief of Staff? And the Secretary to the Cabinet? The Minister of the Interior? The Minister for Communications? The President’s Director of Communications? Do they all defer to the President when it comes to Governmental spin?

Ha – Governments often feel like acting in the heat of the moment and that is why they are taught by precedent to operate as a team. If you don’t believe that, read Robert Kennedy’s book about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962: Thirteen Days.

A good team would be told that the President was minded to do this or that, and what did they think of it? They are obliged to tell the President precisely what they think of his intended action. He may not heed their advice, but they are obliged to give it. They cannot hide under the belief that the President wanted to do it and since the buck stops with him, that was it. No – they ought to save the President from himself, when necessary.

Now, if one looks at the list of names given by Captain Assasie-Gyimah as constituting the dissolved NACOB Board, one finds that they are not the usual political party carpet-baggers. They are almost all professionals appointed to the Board ostensibly because the positions they hold oblige them to be on the Board. In other words, they were mostly ex-officio members. If we use one of them as an example – the head of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service: this is a position the holder of which can be asked by Parliament to investigate Government members for wrong-doing. You cannot smear such a professional by innuendo just like that.

What is an innuendo? It is a suggestion, not directly verbalised, but which can be deduced from a certain set of facts. If I say that I saw you having dinner with someone; that before the dinner, I had also observed the two of you in a jewellery shop; and earlier still, I had seen you go to visit your dinner partner’s mother; and now look – your dinner partner had appointed you as the Executive Chairman of his company, the Ghana Counterfeit Currency Printing Syndicate – I haven’t quite said that you are a “criminal”, but…? That’s an innuendo all right!

Yes, some high-ranking public officials represent the permanent institutions of the land, and even though they may, technically, hold their appointments at “the pleasure” of the President, it behoves the President NOT to act towards them in such a way that public confidence in them may be undermined. Think: what would Ghana come to if any of the many top people on the erstwhile NACOB Board of Governors, were to be suspected by the public of being somehow involved in the cocaine scandal? It would just simply not be fair.

And it is even worse if the presidency did not realise that this was what it was in danger of doing when it peremptorily announced that the Board had been dissolved, in the wake of a situation whereby the cocaine issue was the most explosive topic of discussion in the land. For it is just as bad to be so inefficient that one is unaware of the harm one’s actions may cause, as to actually cause harm intentionally by one’s actions. The end result is the same, isn’t it?



 
 
Source: Cameron Duodu/D-Guide
 
 

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