A group calling itself FRIENDS OF SPIO AND THE NDC, say they are jolted by the rather harsh personal attack on Dr. Spio-Garbrah by some leading NDC functionaries.
In a press statement issued today, 0ctober 7th, and signed by their National Coordinator, Robert A. Mensah, the group also says it is obvious communication channels have broken down at the highest levels of the Party.
Read below the full statement from Friends of Spio-Garbrah and the NDC.
ON RECENT VICIOUS ATTACKS AGAINST
BY: Friends of Spio-Garbrah and the NDC
Albert Akrong of Somanya, National Coordinator
We, the Friends of Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, other NDC Party faithful and ordinary Ghanaians and loyal supporters of the Nkrumah-Rawlings political tradition have been jolted by the rather harsh personal attack on Dr. Spio-Garbrah by Mr Ato Ahwoi, an NDC member, based on some observations that Dr. Spio-Garbrah made in an article recently published in two instalments in the Daily Graphic. Further insinuations by various commentators consider that Spio’s remarks at various times smack of sour grapes as well as self-interest instead of promoting the cause of the mass of disenchanted NDC members. FRIENDS OF SPIO, based on facts and information gathered after vivid research affirm as follows:
1. It is quite obvious that communications channels have broken down at the highest levels of the Party with the only option being members openly expressing views on the work, challenges and future of the party. Uncle Ato stated in his letter that the best way in which Uncle Spio could have advised the President and the government was privately, through some memos. If so, why did Uncle Ato not follow his own advice and counsel Uncle Spio through a private memo or phone call? After all Uncle Spio’s house is two doors from Uncle Ato’s?
2. In light of the very shameful comments that Kofu Anyidoho made yesterday, is the presidency now throwing its weight against a fellow NDC member because he dared to spur on his own side?
3. We read with astonishment where Uncle Ato actually asked Spio why the President should consider any well-written proposals sent to him by well meaning Ghanaians. It is insensitive for Ato Ahwoi to suggest to Spio and other Ghanaians that the President they have elected and whose salary the public pays, does NOT have to consider good proposals sent to him. If so, then what is the point of electing any President? Should President Mills listen to only Ato Ahwoi? In any case, if the President is not obliged to consider proposals sent to him, why does Ato make the contradictory recommendation that Spio should send his ideas through memos to the President rather than through newspaper articles? Does it make sense for Uncle Spio to send written memos to the President if the latter will be advised by Ato Ahwoi to disregard them?
4. Before Spio-Garbrah wrote his recent articles in the Daily Graphic, President Rawlings had come out to criticise President Mills along similar lines of being too slow and not being revolutionary enough. Majority Leader Alban Bagbin also came out, as was the Kpone Kantomanso MP. Even Mills and VP Mahama themselves have acknowledged publicly that they are aware of such negative public comments. Mills himself, hearing such complaints from ordinary people at home and abroad, has asked Ghanaians to give him more time. So to call Spio’s comments “Conceited” and “Vain”, when many in the same Party and beyond are calling for similar action is not acceptable.
5. It is good to know that Uncle Spio is “dispensable to the NDC”, and that Ato Ahwoi will be happy if Spio leaves the Party. This tells us the foot soldiers who in NDC really love the Party and those who are constantly reducing the Party’s numbers and popularity by sacking some of its bright stars. They made Goosie Tanoh go to create Reform. They made Dr. Kwesi Botchwey lose interest in NDC. Obed Asamoah left NDC to form another Party, DFP. And today, after NDC won the last elections by only 40,000 votes, they want to divide the party further.
6. Uncle Ato makes it clear that he has been opposed to Spio-Garbrah playing any roles in the NDC for a long time, not just in 2008 or even since after the 2006 NDC Congress. Indeed, he alleges that Spio has been speaking ill about Mills since 1993. We must remind Ghanaians that in 1993, Uncle Spio was an employee of the African Development Bank, based in Abidjan, and NOT a member of the NDC government at the time, while Prof Mills was IRS Commissioner. Spio became Chairman of the NDC Publicity Committee in the 1996 elections, and therefore could not have started any negative comments against Prof Mills since 1993. He left his job as Ambassador of Ghana in the USA to come and campaign for Rawlings/Mills in the 1996 elections after which Prof Mills became Veep in January 1997.
7. From 1997-2001, Spio-Garbrah as a Minister of Communications, worked closely with Prof Mills then as Veep. So when and where did Spio-Garbrah make negative comments against Prof. Mills while they worked together in the government? Or is Uncle Ato going back to 1993 because that was the year in which after President Rawlings had nominated Uncle Spio as a Minister for Information, Uncle Ato and others worked to sabotage that nomination in Parliament? Is that why 1993 is so important to Uncle Ato, even when Prof Mills was not Vice President?
8. If Spio-Garbrah has been making negative comments about President Mills since 1993, how come Prof Mills, then NDC flag bearer, choose Spio-Garbrah to be his Director of Communications in the 2002 primaries? Is it not a well-known fact in Ghanaian political history that after the 2000 first round elections on 7th December, when many people such as Ato Ahwoi deserted the battlefield, it was Spio-Garbrah who went around radio stations with Prof. Mills to campaign for the NDC? If Spio-Garbrah has been bad-mouthing Atta Mills for all these years, why did Prof Mills leave his entire Kuku Hill, Osu campaign headquarters in the charge of Ekwow Spio-Garbrah when he Prof Mills decided in 2001 to take a one-year research sabbatical in Canada? The Ahwoi brothers were very alive at that time; why did Prof. Mills not leave Kuku Hill in their care?
9. Was Spio-Garbrah not a leading member of the Atta Mills campaign team which contested against Dr. Kwesi Botchwey at the flag-bearer contest at Legon Cafeteria in December 2002? If Prof Mills was ever angry with Spio Garbrah since 1993 because Spio-Garbrah has been making bad remarks about the Prof, why did Prof Mills in 2003, when Spio-Garbrah was about to leave for his current appointment, make a statement at a farewell party at Kuku Hill in front of more than 100 people, with the Ahwois present that: “When we come to power in 2004, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah is the FIRST person I shall appoint as a minister in my Government.”
10. If the relationship between Spio-Garbrah and Mills was so bad even after the 2006 congress, how come, Spio-Garbrah left his job in London on some seven occasions in 2008 to visit Ghana and to campaign for Prof. Atta Mills, often speaking on the same platform with then candidate Mills much to Mill’s own appreciation? Why did Uncle Spio encourage some of us (the friends of Spio) to help Mills by printing thousands of Atta Mills T-Shirts and posters and to distribute them nationwide? Is Ato Ahwoi not aware that Dr. Spio-Garbrah donated from his personal salary GHC10,000 to the NDC Party headquarters to assist the campaign effort to make Mills President? Is Uncle Ato not aware of the large amount of funds Spio-Garbrah mobilised to help finance the media campaign of Prof Mills in the last elections. Was he not at Kuku Hill when some Friends of Spio donated pick-ups and cash to Prof Mills for his campaign? Is he not aware of hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions that Dr. Spio arranged for Prof. Mills? Did Ato Ahwoi never hear Spio on numerous radio stations and TV stations campaign for Prof Mills. We know Uncle Ato mentioned to his close friends that Uncle Spio had done well when in a Metro TV interview by Paul Adom-Otchere Spio called the NPP a “chopocratic, kleptocratic cocinaocracy”? Definitely Uncle Ato has adopted selective amnesia regarding events of the last elections.
11. If Spio-Garbrah so dislikes Prof Mills why did Uncle Spio agree to serve as Chairman of the Social Sector Committee of the NDC Transition Team that managed the transition of 11 sector ministries after the 2008 elections? Some of us saw Spio-Garbrah leave his job in London to come to Ghana to support the new NDC government to celebrate the 7th January, 2009 Swearing-in of a new Speaker in Parliament House, the Inauguration of President Mills at the Independence Square, the March 6th Independence Day Anniversary at the same square, as well as the visit of President Obama to the Castle and his speech at the Conference Centre. Why would anybody who does not wish President Mills well, or performs poorly as a team-player do all these things to support him? Certainly, this cannot be based solely on the desire for a Ministerial appointment.
12. Obviously, Spio-Garbrah is eager to serve the country, even if he has to sacrifice a very high-paying international job for another experience in swimming among political sharks in Ghana. But Uncle Spio’s patriotism and love for Ghana knows no bounds, he continues to remain willing to serve Ghana but only if the people need and want him. The question is whether all of Ghana should lose his services just because few people in the NDC led by the Ahwoi brothers are afraid of his capabilities.
13. In reality, President Mills and Dr. Spio-Garbrah have a very close, friendly and collaborative relationship over the years. But, as in all such close human relationships, the devil gets involved. Indeed, hoping for the fulfilment of the promise or prophecy made in 2003, some of us hoped the first person President Mills may have made an offer to, would have been Spio-Garbrah to handle for instance, the Foreign Ministry. However, unknown to Ghanaians, Ato Ahwoi and other elements were mightily struggling with the President over Spio ever joining the government. So, if Ghanaians want to understand what is slowing down the government, then this is the example. People like Ato Ahwoi are preventing the President from taking quick decisions by threatening him if he were to engage people like Uncle Spio.
14. Contrary to Ato Ahwoi’s claim that Spio-Garbrah wishes to intimidate the President into granting him an appointment, all Ghanaians can now tell from Mr Ahwoi’s outbursts who is actually intimidating the President into not appointing Spio-Garbrah. Does Ahwoi think he is making the President look good when Ato shows clearly that he cares about his own funny power and wants people to know that he has throttlehold on the President? Several members of the NDC’s appointment Committee all confirm that at all times Spio-Garbrah was on their list of proposed Cabinet ministers, until their recommendations got into the Castle where President Mill’s kitchen and night Cabinets led by Ato kill their proposals and the appointments of many others. Do these brothers own Ghana or even the NDC? Or was Uncle Ato simply trying to diminish the President’s authority and power by making it clear that President Mills cannot appoint anybody in Ghana without he Ato’s approval? Is Ato Ahwoi now the shadow President of Ghana?
15. Does Ato Ahwoi realise that his statements have heavily damaged the integrity and reputation of the Presidency, as he has unwittingly made it clear that whether President Mills likes it or not, it is people like him Ahwoi who are making appointments in the government. Maybe that is his real objective - to weaken the Presidency and elevate himself. Ahwoi is not the President, but is able to tell the whole of Ghana that Spio will never be a Cabinet Minister under Mills, and indeed it is better to reject very good material as ministers in the NDC government if they the Ahwois cannot control them. Ato did not say that President Mills cannot control Spio, but rather he Ato cannot control Spio, so Spio must stay out. In fact, anyone who knows President Mills knows that His style is NOT to control people, but simply to work with them. But that is not good enough for the power-hungry Ato and other companions.
16. President Mills has on several occasions - often with other people present - explained to Spio why he has not been able to appoint him as Minister despite his desire to do so. President Mills has never said Spio cannot be a good team player, or is arrogant. President Mills has worked closely with Spio over the years and has at all times found him to be reliable, hardworking, honest and effective. However, it is people like Ato Ahwoi who have been continually trying to poison Mills’ mind about Spio just as when dubbed as - the Fante Confederacy - they continually concocted stories about their fellow Cabinet colleagues to Rawlings - leading to the departure of people like P.V. Obeng. Ato Quarshie, Ibrahim Adams, etc.
17. As to the allegation that Spio is the man who has been spreading rumours about Atta Mill’s health, the least said the better. On June 1st 2006, a story appeared in the Daily Graphic submitted by the Atta Mills Campaign Team, controlled by the Ahwoi brothers, which announced to the whole world that Prof. Mills is not well, that he has gone to China to seek medical treatment and has since gone to South Africa for further treatment. The Graphic story said that he was however expected to return to Ghana and to contest for the NDC leadership at a future Congress. That was the first time most people in Ghana - including Dr. Spio-Garbrah, who was then in London - knew that Atta Mills was not well. How can Spio-Garbrah therefore be accused of being the one spreading false information about Mill’s health?
18. Upon learning from the Daily Graphic of the illness of his senior colleague, Uncle Spio went to visit Prof Mills in South Africa, while none of the Ahwois who love him so much did so, and that is why the Ahwois must poison the Prof’s mind about Spio. Prof Mills himself came on Peace FM, in an interview with Kwame Sefa Kayi, and admitted to Ghanaians that he has not been well but was now feeling better. President Mills then asked Ghanaians “Who does not have a hospital card” explaining that he too has a hospital card and had used it recently. So why this attempt to make Spio responsible for public awareness of Atta Mills illness? Did Ato Ahwoi not hear of public statements President Mills made at the Castle in 2007 while in the company of Mr. Kofi Annan where he explained to journalists why he was drinking only water?
19. Yes, our investigations from the Ridge residence of former President Rawlings confirms that indeed Uncle Spio, in August 2006, sent a private text mail to President Rawlings asking the former President to check with Prof. Mills whether the latter felt strong enough to contest the NDC Party leadership and also campaign to win 2008. It was simply one player in a football team asking the coach or Team Manager to be sure that the team captain was fit for a match. We see nothing wrong with that. But as the text message contained other issues regarding the NDC campaign, President Rawlings sent the text message immediately in August 2006 to then Prof Mills for his comments.
20. Expectedly, Prof. Mills also showed this text to the Ahwois, who waited cynically until November 2006 while the flagbearer contest in NDC was red hot, and sensing that their candidate might lose the elections; they released this text message of August to the Daily Guide. The aim was to court the sympathy votes of NDC delegates on the grounds that Spio was unfairly trying to damage Prof Mills by sending a text message in November during the campaign, when the text was actually sent in August when the campaign had not started. They hid from the public the fact that Spio’s text message was sent in August 2006, when he Spio had not even declared his candidacy to contest the flagbearer slot, which he did on 21st September, Kwame Nkrumah’s official birthday.
21. We the friends of Spio who campaigned with him in 2006 throughout Ghana attest that at no point did Spio campaign on the basis that Atta Mills was sick, was about to die and cannot win an election, as now claimed by Ato Ahwoi. We challenge Ato Ahwoi to produce any good proof. Of course, Ahwoi’s agents manufactured and published false newspaper stories to dent Spio’s reputation by linking him with stories on Mills’ health. Furthermore, Spio did not mastermind any text messages on Atta Mills’ health during the 2006 NDC leadership contest as Uncle Ato alleges.
22. Mr Ahwoi has used some soccer analogies to state why Spio has been dropped from the Mills team, because Spio is so “full of himself”… he is “egotistical and supercilious”... “he is a star player and has been dropped, will be dropped and we are quite good about it”. We don’t understand all the big strange words, but it is quite curious to ask in what capacity Mr Ahwoi has taken up this whole exercise and embarked on this personal attack on Spio? Uncle Spio’s article in the Daily Graphic does not mention the name of Ato Ahwoi. Indeed, in mentioning that SOME ministers may belong to Team A and others to Team B, Dr. Spio-Garbrah did not state that EVERY member of the Mills administration was incapable or needed to be reshuffled. Indeed, he stated that many in the government are very capable and experienced. But simply that some needed to be shifted to new positions and roles. So, in trying to set all members of the current government against Uncle Spio, Uncle Ato misfired. Spio’s message was simple.
23. We in the rank and file of the NDC support Uncle Spio and the general thrust of the message, the articles do not mention any NDC personalities, except the President and the Vice President, because they head the government. So we don’t even understand in what capacity Ato Ahwoi is writing against Spio, when he is not the Presidential Spokesman, Head of Communication at the Presidency or Minister/Deputy of Information. Unless Uncle Ato is simply trying to convince Ghanaians that there is a government within or behind the official government, and hopes to get cheap popularity with the President. He fails to discuss cogently the many logical issues raised by Spio and only mounted a personal attack on him. Although we don’t agree with everything Uncle Spio has written, we agree that his aim is to help the government to do better, but not to attack personalities.
24. The reference to Obama bringing in Mrs. Clinton in to his government has NOTHING to do with Mrs. Clinton herself or even Ekwow Spio-Garbrah. It has to do with Party UNITY, and the fact that such people have a FOLLOWING who need to be brought together with the winning group after an internal Party contest. Spio himself does NOT need a job in the MIlls Cabinet, but had he been brought into government, we his FOLLOWERS would have felt that our views and needs were also being represented. He has NEVER asked Prof Mills for a Cabinet position, and the points he made were more about others in the Party rather than himself. This is why he noted that only 2 out of the former 70+ appointees of Rawlings are in this government.
25. Also, an important point in the Spio article was the need for WIDER CONSULTATION with those who do not have appointments, so the government can tap into ALL the possible knowledge within the Party and indeed even amongst all Ghanaians - whether NDC or not. Similarly, the reference to Edgar Hoover has nothing to do with Spio himself, but all those who need to be brought under the big NDC umbrella but who if left outside can create problems for the Party. Half of Parliament belongs to this group, many of the former NDC ministers and Party regional and constituency executives also belong to this group. And so are hundreds of thousands of NDC activists and sympathizers. But we now understand from Uncle Ato that all these people are not important to the NDC. If someone gets 8% of a delegates vote at Congress, and if that represents even merely 8% of those who voted for NDC at the last elections, that could be some 40,000 votes. Are such votes not important to the NDC and to Ato Ahwoi?
26. Rather than using the media to launch a very personal attack on Dr Spio, we urge Uncle Ato and those who believe in him to sheath their swords, call a truce and try to settle any differences indoors. Uncle Ato and those closer to the President must open up avenues for proper interaction with other Party members, especially those who supported other flag bearer aspirants. Many will be surprised to learn that since the December 2006 Congress, then flagbearer Mills - possibly on the negative advice of people like Ato - has NOT called even one meeting of his three other contestants. How can the NDC then properly heal all the wounds?
27. Today, after the Ahwois have sabotaged the appointments of many people as Ministers, Deputies, Ambassadors, Board Chairman and members, and DCEs, they fail to recognize that many hundreds of NDC members are furious with them but cannot talk. Needless to say, such persons are only bidding their time. That is why Spio-Garbrah has become an unwitting hero of all these people. This we know the Ahwois cannot bear. We who support Spio believe that his article was speaking for the masses of the NDC faithful. Ato also represents those close to the President. NDC needs all its members, whether they lodge in the Presidency and the Castle, or roam the streets of our cities still unemployed, looking for jobs and disappointed at their fate when the Party they fought for is now in power.
28. Ato opines that Spio-Garbrah is not a Team Member. What is the evidence? Was he playing badly in the NDC team as an Ambassador or Minister from 1994-2001 when he helped organise an 8-city 10-day tour of the USA for President and Mrs Rawlings – or helped to bring back the VAT back in 1998, when it had been withdrawn in 1995? Did that effort which today raises so much revenue for the government not help carve a positive track record for NDC? When he helped to establish the GETFund in 2000 was he being a team player or not? Is the GETFund not helping all Ghanaians, particularly in boosting infrastructure in some tertiary institutions? Did it not let the NDC Team look good? And when he came to campaign for Atta Mills in the 2008 elections, did Ato Ahwoi ask Spio to go back to London because he was a bad team player.
29. Indeed Ato obviously approved President Mills’ decision to make Spio-Garbrah the Chairman of the Social Sector Committee of the Transition Team. When Spio chaired the heavy workload of this team and delivered the teams report successfully to the President was he being a good team player? Spio has been a good NDC team player all along, but the Ahwois don’t want him around - even if President Mills wanted him as a Minister.
30. It is obvious that the Ahwois are interested in MONEY and POWER in the Mills administration, hence have they taken possession of such “juicy” positions as Chairman of GNPC, Chairman of the Revenue Agencies Governing Board and Minister of Agriculture. It is no accident that the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture has been almost doubled this year with many contracts to disburse. Many of their close friends, spouses, classmates and family members have been placed on many of the boards of so-called juicy organisations. Indeed, one of them struggled with the NDC Party Chairman over the Chairmanship of the GETFund, which they saw as a juicy appointment. Why did the Ahwois not rather accept to Chair the Council of a University but they have sent P.V Obeng to Chair the University of Science and Technology Council because they see it as “dry land” while they keep the juicy appointments for themselves? Unfortunately they think that Ghanaians cannot see through all of this.
31. Most people know all these anti-Spio rhetorics of Ato Ahwoi are intended to frighten Spio out of the NDC, get him to resign or withdraw from any leadership aspirations. All this is simply so that Ato’s brother Kwesi can have freer rein to partner John Mahama as a possible Veep running mate as early as 2012. This is no national secret. After all, the Ahwois know that Spio-Garbrah has excellent relations with Ex-Prez. Rawlings, Prez. Mills, John Mahama and other party members. So, why not damage Spio now by excluding him from the Cabinet so that he cannot get any local foothold, malign him with personality attacks and negative commentary by paid serial callers, try to present him as “Rawlings’ boy” such that some segments of the Ghanaian population will dislike him, and smear him as anti-Mills, so everyone in the current government will hate him. Now the likes of PALAVER newspaper have started spreading vicious suggestions that Spio is an NPP mole? How ridiculous?
32. And on the asinine comment by Koku Anyiodo that Dr Spio-Garbrah has a “cheap Phd” – Koku, who clearly is behaving like an EDUCATED THUG – must be reminded that Middlebury College, which conferred this honorary doctorate of laws degrees (LLD) on Ekwow Spio-Garbrah is among the TOP 5 University Colleges in all of the USA. It has also honoured President Clinton and Mayor Guiliani with the same degree. And whether a person chooses to accept and use the honor is their own prerogative. So Koku should stop the SKIN PAIN. Some of us who love Ekwow will continue to call him by the appellation “Dr” like we did Nkrumah – and Koku can go and burn the sea.
33. Unfortunately, this foolish strategy will not work, as most NDC members and fellow Ghanaians have their eyes wide open and know what is going on. NDC members and cadres can now see more clearly that it is the Ahwois who have been dividing NDC from the mid-1990s. Now they have seized NDC assets such as the Palaver newspaper and Radio Gold, and are using their government positions to fund their CASHPRO operations. Anyone who does not succumb to their whims - Goosie Tanoh, Kwesi Botchwey, Obed Asamoah and now Spio-Garbrah - is either hounded out of the Party or is marginalised. Indeed, as far as they are concerned even President Rawlings is not needed in the NDC. NYAME EHU MU OOO!!!
34. Anyway, Mr Ahwoi should be reminded that even Zimbabwe President Mugabe who has fought a literal civil war with Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters is now working with him, in the interest of Zimbabwe. We hope that Uncle Ato follows world history and is aware that right here on Ghana’s door steps, President Gbabgo of Cote d’Ivoire is working with a Prime Minister Guillaume Soro with whom he was in an all-out civil war only a few year ago. Will Atta Mills be taken seriously as a peacemaker in troubled African or West African countries if his closest political associates are telling foreign Ambassadors living in Ghana that the President of Ghana cannot work with people who simply say things he does not like? In that case, how will President Mills, as a respected ECOWAS leader and celebrated Asomdweehene be taken seriously in bringing peace to a country such as Guinea or Guinea Bissau? Doesn’t Ato Ahwoi know that when he pisses in the local Ghanaian media the odour of his diseased urine is smelt on the Internet all across the world?
35. We cannot conclude this piece without thanking God for blessing Spio with a personality, a mind, the qualifications and experience, and the tenacity, courage and determination that makes him clearly Presidential material. He may be abrasive in some instances, yet discerning Ghanaians including opponents in the NPP and CPP see Spio as an asset for Ghana – hence the inordinate desire of Ato and others in his own Party to destroy him. We need peace in the party and unity to fulfil the ‘Better Ghana Agenda’.
BY: Friends of Spio-Garbrah and the NDC
Albert Akrong of Somanya, National Coordinator
Source: Friends of Spio-Garbrah and the NDC
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