Emmanuel Victor Smith

In 2008, Mr. Victor Smith, then spokesperson for the former first Family, published in the Weekly Standard that then President Kufuor had been involved in a $5billion oil deal in Kuwait.

At the sitting of the Appointments Committee which vetted him last week as the President’s nominee for the position of Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Smith said he could not substantiate the accusation and that (to quote him) “the information was given to me by somebody close to former President Kufuor at the time I was managing a newspaper.”

Also, in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM (before his vetting), Mr. Smith recalled an event in his days as Spokesperson for the Rawlingses when, according to him, seven pick-up trucks loaded with armed security officers invaded the residence of the former President Rawlings with the prime motive to eliminate him.

However, when a member of the Appointments Committee asked him to prove the allegation, he admitted he did not have any proof that the NPP administration had intended to kill former President Rawlings but was only expressing his opinion on the matter.

According to him, when he saw the seven pick-ups loaded with armed security personnel at the residence of the former president, he believed “it was a diabolical plan that could lead to the death of Mr Rawlings”.

Let no-one deceive Ghanaians: Mr Smith neither withdrew his accusations, nor apologised to the former President, either before his vetting or thereafter.

In the Parliament that eventually approved Mr Smith’s nomination, it was the usual NDC-NPP battle for supremacy of numbers. Predictably, the “ayes” had it, not because it was not true that Mr Smith had lied in his accusation against the former President, but because as an NDC-man, he had to get the nod.

Is parliament trying to convince Ghanaians that in matters of political appointments, morality does not matter; that truth plays no part in national life? 

Is Parliament telling Ghanaians that as Christians, Muslims, practitioners of African traditional religion, Buddhists etc, we go to church, mosques, shrines, temples etc just for show? Is Parliament telling Ghanaians, especially the little children and the fast-developing youth of Ghana, that all the ‘National Thanksgiving Services’ at the Independence Square where our President declares every year that “God is President of Ghana” are just a show? I am close to many of the pastors that constitute the Organising Committee of the Annual Thanksgiving Service and I know the sincere hearts and genuine nationalistic fervour that informs the prayer of those saints of Christ as they go before God daily, praying to let the Thanksgiving Service succeed. Today, I ask: what is a “successful” thanksgiving service? To get a good weather and a good crowd from the various churches and fellowships?

I remember Presidents and high government officials prostrating with Muslims in their mosques under the supervision of the Chief Imam, with the television and press still cameras working overtime? Has all this been for a show, an act that had to be staged and allowed to pass quickly as just another item on our politically correct agendas?

As we wait for another March 6 to do more bowings and praise singing, is Parliament saying that they were not concerned enough to have asked Victor Smith to produce the evidence that compelled him, as a newspaper managing editor, to believe that the accusation against a sitting President was true? Apart from the mere say-so of this person whom he claimed to be “close to former President Kufuor”, what evidence did the person produce that so convinced Mr Smith beyond all doubt? Was Parliament not interested in that?

Let us all go back a little in time to re-live the days in question. Who does not remember the passion in the voice of Mr Smith any time he was interviewed on air on this issue? Is he not the same Victor Smith who dared the former President to take him to court – promising to provide evidence!

Parliament forgot all that? Or truth did not matter – and does not matter – any more in Ghana as far as politics is concerned? Does one have to be NPP or NDC for truth to matter in this land?

Now, like the rest of the people of Ghana, I am waiting with baited breath to see what the President will do. Will he, with the benefit of information he did not know previously about the appointee’s past moral record, go ahead and appoint Mr Smith as a Minister of State in a country that goes before God every year? For me, this is the finest hour for Professor Mills to prove both his Christian credentials and his aversion for lies. The children are watching and waiting.

Our President will have to show that his passionate vows at the United Nations, at his meeting with President Obama at the White House, and in his addresses to both the Christian and Muslim communities in Ghana concerning his hatred for the politics of insults were no mere words.

Do I have to be NPP or NDC to prove that clearly, Mr Smith, by his own admission, is someone who pulled himself up into high political office, including a diplomatic appointment, by the use of unverifiable information and unsubstantiated accusations against a personality whose only sin was that he belonged to a political party other than Mr Smith’s.

There is no better way to fight the fast spreading cancer in Ghana politics than to make “ability to insult” and “ability to lie” less attractive qualifications for public appointment in a God-fearing society. My concern is that young persons may, otherwise, be tempted to think that lying and/or malicious slander are legitimate qualifications for high public office. Someone has to put an end to this, and a Christian President is best armed to do that.

The problem with the western democracy we are practicing is that this man will be known as and called “Honourable”. He will be invited to go to churches where he will preach God and morality!

Away from the politics of insults, but in a matter not unrelated to it, I write as a director of the Centre for Communication and Culture and with more than 30 years behind me as a journalism practitioner. In that capacity, I am at pains to observe how too easily it has become for too many people, taking advantage of the freedoms enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, to call themselves journalists and practice journalism in the country. While I will be the last to call for any form of restraint on media freedoms, in particular, and freedom of expression, generally, I can only express disquiet at the situation in Ghana today where everybody is a journalist and everything is journalism, no questions asked.

I appeal to the National Accreditation Board to ensure that short cut to wealth is not allowed to replace the lofty ideals of using training institutions to turn out well rounded individuals for whom journalism is an opportunity to contribute to the moulding of opinion .

Fragmented Thought of Enimil Ashon

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