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Friday, January 21, 2022

Opinion: Goodbye Impunity

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Everybody who knows the current Ashanti Regional Minister, Kofi Opoku Manu, testifies that he is ordinarily a man of peace, a perfect gentleman from whose mouth fire would never emerge to melt butter.

So what could have entered this minister, until last weekend, an icon of gentleness and advocate of peace, to incite supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to violence? At an NDC function in Kumasi, he is quoted as urging the party supporters to slap their political opponents who taunt them.

Not unexpectedly, officials and supporters of the minority parties reacted swiftly, demanding not only a retraction and apology from him, but also his dismissal by the President. On a number of radio stations since the story broke, commentators, even from his own party, have refused to be on his side.

Beleaguered and obviously not finding the type of blind defence that political parties (no exception), either corporately or through their officials and supporters, have been wont to offer in the past for even the silliest or most senseless remarks by operatives/supporters, the Regional Minister has, according to a Joy News story, finally “eaten humble pie”. A story filed yesterday (Wednesday) by the radio station’s correspondent, said the minister had finally apologized for the statement, admitting that he indeed hit below the belt.

Hear him: “I’ll be the last person to advocate for warfare of any type and, having listened to this myself, I must say I really feel sorry,” he said.

Explaining that he made the statement in a “charged environment” during the party forum he said the statement was ‘rather uncharacteristic.

The Ghanaian Times has a policy: in a country where politicians carry themselves with such an over-bloated ego throwing their weight around as they who must be feared; a country where “big men” do not apologise (because as the colossus they think they are, they do no wrong!), we would be the first to forgive any such official if he (or she) shows remorse and goes down on his knees to do what this minister has rightly done.

This nation is gradually getting there – to that era when nobody, not even the President, can operate with impunity; that is, do or say just anything, in the arrogant assurance that “nobody can do anything.” Thanks to the almighty thumb, and an electorate which, in the words of E.T Eliot, “is as wide awake as spectacles”!

From here on, we have just one more prayer: that soon, there will come to an end, that era when faceless brawny machomen or armed “political landguards” would brutalise political opponents or uttering the most innocent word of criticism!

So far, so good. Back to the issue involving the Ashanti Regional Minister, however, we have one reservation and a piece of advice. Having made his “slap your opponents when you feel annoyed” call to party supporters, many of whom may not have listened to his apology, the minister will serve mankind better if he buys space in a mass circulating newspaper or a radio station with a long reach or a TV station with nation-wide coverage to carry his apology as an advertisers announcement.
Goodbye, impunity.

Welcome, the era when Castle or the Presidency does not shield its operatives or functionaries.

Credit: The Ghanaian Times

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