We have all agreed as a nation NOT to play politics with the, deadly, ravaging, rampaging, and ravenous global COVID-19 pandemic, and as a patriot, I have made it known on countless public fora that God Forbid that I play politics with the pandemic and so this write-up of mine, has nothing to do with partisan politics.
On the contrary, this article is just to make poignant the fact that, Ghana has always had its own unique ways of manging our affairs such that, the emergence of COVID-19 should in no way veer the nation off our track of staying glued to our self-belief in moments of strife – of course, while not closing our eyes to acceptable global solutions.
As a Presidential Aide to President John Evans Atta-Mills and also as his personal and official speechwriter as well as the Head of Communications at the Office of the President, I recall and continue to recount the numerous times President Atta-Mills had to stay stoic and calm in the face of extremely emasculating national and sometimes, international crises.
With specific reference to his “Dzi Wu Fie Asem” Policy vis-à-vis the 2010 elections brouhaha in Ivory Coast, I know it for a fact that it was not an easy decision for President Atta-Mills to come up with that epithet especially in the wake of a gnawing ECOWAS decision to commit troops to open warfare in Ivory Coast to flush out Laurent Gbagbo and install Alassane Dramani Ouattara (ADO – as he is popularly called by his political admirers) as the President.
I cannot forget how after an Emergency ECOWAS Summit in Abuja, at which the decision was taken to opt for warfare in Ivory Coast, aboard the Presidential Airplane (the Falcon) flying back to Accra, President Atta-Mills continued to register his extreme displeasure at such a decision. In fact, the President made it clear to us that he and the Liberian President, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, had registered their dissent during the Summit but the majority carried the day.
Without wanting to take such a monumental decision alone, I also recall President Atta-Mills meeting with, former President Jerry John Rawlings, some retired military Generals such as, Lt. General Arnorld Quainoo, Lt. General Joseph Henry Smith (Defence Minister), Major General Henry Kwami Anyidoho (my father), Major General Francis Yahaya Mahama, Major General Charles Okine, as well as the Military High Command at the time headed by Lt. General Augustine Blay, to deliberate deeply on the options and various scenarios pertaining to committing or not committing Ghanaian troops to warfare in Ivory Coast.
To cut a long story short, a firm decision was taken by the Republic of Ghana headed by His Excellency President John Evans Atta-Mills, NOT to commit Ghanaian troops to any form of warfare in Ivory Coast.
As the Event Moderator at the Castle in January 2011, when President Atta-Mills met with Media Owners, Senior Journalists and Editors, to have his usual yearly one-on-one encounter with them, I felt the cathartic air that bolted out of the belly of my boss when in response to a question as to whether he will commit Ghanaian troops to warfare in Ivory Coast or not, he let out his “Dzi Wu Fie Asem” policy.
To wit, Ghana had taken so many things into consideration and a firm decision had been taken NOT to commit Ghanaian troops to warfare in Ivory Coast.
Of course, President Atta-Mills came under a barrage of criticism (outright verbal abuse in some cases) from slanted political sources but the President refused to budge and as it is; history has come to vindicate him in many ways than one.
As Ghana battles COVID-19, there is no gainsaying the fact that all the decisions that have been taken to manage the pandemic, have been heavily influenced by a strong “Dzi Wu Fie Asem” policy which in my reckoning, and in the reckoning of a fair-minded persons, has all to do with, NATIONAL INTEREST.
Simply put; “Dzi wu fie asem” is all about the interest of the nation and in all crises moments, the NATIONAL INTEREST must always reign supreme.
Listening to His Excellency President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Vice President, the various Sector Ministers, Faith Based Organisations, Traditional Leaders, Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations, the Media, and the Citizenry, it is ipso facto that, the National Interest is the driving and guiding force lighting the path of our collective resolve to fight the pandemic.
It is the NATIONAL INTEREST that necessitated a Partial Lockdown; it is the same NATIONAL INTEREST that has taken away the Partial Lockdown – while maintaining all the World Health Organisations (WHO’s) established protocols.
In other words, once Ghana remains part of a global village, we shall continue to respect the laid down international protocols for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic but when it comes to the issue of a total lockdown and its related issues, Ghana will continue to adopt a “Dzi Wu Fie Asem” policy that would always allow the NATIONAL INTEREST to override all other considerations.
Ghana has a well-established history of not copying blindly; or for that matter, setting its own standards and leading the way; and so this is not the time for Ghana to copy “blindly”.
Anecdotally, I know someone who adds sugar to coca cola and fanta before drinking, and has been doing so for decades but has no health related issues. If I should copy that person blindly and do same, only God knows where I would have been by now.
The Gold Coast set the pace and became Ghana after being the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence from colonial rule.
During the Rwanda genocide in 1994, Ghana stood its grounds and defied a United Nations Resolution that asked all countries to pull troops out of that country and leave the citizens to die; Ghana remained and forced the UN to rethink and pass another Resolution to send troops back into Rwanda.
On a personal note, my father, Major General Henry Kwami Anyidoho, was the Contingent Commander of the Ghana Battalion and was also the Deputy Force Commander of the United Nation’s Force known as, United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR).
When President John Mahama allowed Ghana to be a base to fight the EBOLA scourge, the NATIONAL INTEREST was at play – we had to help our neighbours so the disease would not spread to Ghana.
After all, is not a Ghanaian who invented the Veronica Bucket? Based on our past as a nation and as a People, I am tempted to believe that whatever decisions that are taken in the supreme interest of Ghana, SHALL have the blessings of the Almighty.
COVID-19 has come with an agenda to kill and destroy; we have no option but to keep the NATIONAL INTEREST alive and God Himself in His merciful might, shall see us through this blistering storm.
If the decisions are taken in the NATIONAL INTEREST it does not mean that there would be no challenges: Indeed there would be challenges but at the end of it, the purity of heart and conscience will allow the good to supersede the bad.
Surely, with Christ in the vessel of Mother Ghana, and with our NATIONAL INTEREST reigning supreme, we shall smile at the COVID-19 storm.
So, “Dzi Wu Fie Asem” is not a bad policy after all huh?
I continue to write and speak from a personal experience working for, and managing a President of the Republic of Ghana and I continue to say with a clean conscience that it would not be in the collective interest of Mother Ghana if we become filibusters and force our President to panic and press the wrong buttons.
May God continue to make our nation Great and Strong!
Samuel Koku Anyidoho
Founder & CEO, Atta-Mills Institute