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Complaints about “neutrals”, “loudmouthed CSOs”, “naysaying Jeremiahs”, “empty critics” and the like have been coming nonstop from politicians throughout my 20 plus years of public policy analysis, advocacy and activism.
Auntie Lizzie earned her place in the annals of our country’s history when she stood up to military bullies in dark days of the early 80s, and for that she has my eternal respect. She literally put her life on the line for the values of free speech and conscience, so thank God she is still with us. Imagine then my discomfort that I have to cross swords with her on the issue of free conscience, but there comes a time when we must hold people to their own professed values, and I intend to do that today.
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Ms. Elizabeth Ohene is dyed-in-the-wool NPP, as is her right to be. she was not merely a Minister and a parliamentary candidate on an NPP ticket, she has been an ardent activist of the party. Which means she tows the party line, which right now is that CSOs are “worrying” NPP. It is not strange that she would take umbrage at citizens speaking up. Especially in these times when a close business associate and fellow leading member of the NPP, my friend Gabby, has been under the spotlight due to CSO advocacy.
I have been an Activist since 1991; this is standard fare, plain vanilla government clapback! Nothing strange, we take it in stride, but facts cannot be buried under emotion.
My first problem with Auntie Lizzie’s commentary is focus. But it is standard fare. Whenever IMANI or other activist CSOs take a stance and make submissions, people refuse to focus on the specific arguments we have made. Instead they circle around, indulging in all manner of roundabout speak. Auntie Lizzie does not depart from this template, hence I struggled to understand why people kept asking me to take note.
Puzzled, I returned to Auntie Lizzie’s article again. I read it line by line. I thought I should cluster and categorise the ideas into ‘buckets’ so it would be easier to address the arguments. I often taught my business strategy students to focus on the key nodes in an issue and address them, meaning avoid the other distractions, no matter how ‘shiny’ they are.
With Agyapa we addressed the key issues, so clearly that we even put out a mathematical formula, because 2+2 is 4, whether in Adeiso, Adabraka or Alabama! The key issues or nodes in that affair were the valuation and the nepotism/self-dealing. I intend to apply the same disciplined analysis to Auntie Lizzie’s article.
By Kofi Bentil, Senior Vice President, IMANI