Greek philosopher, an ancient political-thought leader, Plato, in one of his writings, averred that “No evil can happen to a good man either in life or in death”.
This, to all intents and purposes, certainly will occupy germane spots in the minds of Ghanaians, any time the decision is made to evaluate and reflect on the public stewardship of current Energy Minister and Member of Parliament for Manhyia South, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, popularly known as ‘Napo’
Dr. Prempeh has recently come under calculated attacks by his detractors with the sole aim of causing deliberate disaffection for him or casting him in a bad light in furtherance of their self-seeking agenda. These attacks have come in the form of sleezy attempts to paint him as making statements deemed to be counter-productive to the efforts of his political party and obviously, ones that portray him as ostentatious, among others in the eyes of unsuspecting citizens.
These started with a rather politically ridiculous ascription to the effect that, Matthew Opoku Prempeh says the people of Ashanti region need no development but party T-shirts. The unfortunate spectacle of these agenda setters continued with “Napo says Kumawu needs no development but T-shirts”. An experienced Politician like Napo will say this when he needs votes? Can one imagine? Even aside his political experience, that is not in his nature. He does not make reckless statements. Someone who has human development so dear to his heart like the Energy Minister? Never. It turned out that, given the stature of Napo in the NPP, especially in the Ashanti region conversation, his political opponents, intra and inter, wanted to weave something negative around him in the context of the Kumawu bye-election.
Another one was “Napo celebrates birthday in Monaco”. Others even said “Morocco”. The inconsistencies in this false narrative were so embarrassing. After the Daily Guide Newspaper led this reprehensible agenda, it is on record to have done the needful by apologizing to the venerable Minister. I believe they have learnt the latent and manifest lessons of that episode.
Some well-meaning Ghanaians argued that, the sinister agenda of the Manhyia South law maker’s saboteurs were so glaring that, he ought not to have responded to same. However, many including me, held the view that, it was important that the records were set straight. This for me, is buttressed by one of my favourite quotations by a Roman statesman and writer, Marcus Tullius Cicero – “So near is falsehood to truth, that a wiseman would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge”. In essence, falsehoods can bear the semblance of truth, especially in this complex political enterprise. It is therefore important that when the need be, chaff is separated, as it were, from the grain in the interest of the public. Those reputational malignances have since been dealt with to their logical conclusions.
His detractors are once again up in arms against him in his harmless and relentless efforts with key stakeholders at finding a potential strategic partner for the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). In a transaction, where no contract has yet been signed with negotiations still on-going, some, in a rather hasty and premature fashion, are alleging some mirage of wrongdoing on the part of the Minister whose only interest is to get the refinery back to work.
TOR Management and workers are on record to have acknowledged the numerous interventions the Honourable Minister continues to make to revamp the company, yet some people out of the desire to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it, have launched scathing attacks once again on the Minister. Leading this deliberate name calling is the discredited Captain Smart. Let the likes of Captain Smart understand that, the stone-age of journalism where people shouted on roof tops to attract attention is far gone. I challenge Captain Smart to point out exactly what the Energy has done wrong in this transaction. He doesn’t even understand the issues yet shouting. Is Captain Smart aware that TOR has a Board and Management that runs the refinery and, in this matter, dealing with the Attorney General and the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA)?
For the education of Smart, SIGA exercises supervisory functions over all SOEs and therefore a central stakeholder in the selection of a strategic partner for TOR. He only finds it convenient to smear Napo because in his mind’s eye he has a bright political future; one he so much detests. Indeed “Adasa p3 mmobro” to wit, detractors to not rest on their ores. Smart’s limited appreciation of journalism means he should use the benefit he has on the screens every morning to besmirch characters for parochial interests. For him it is an opportunity to attack people he does not like. Someone should tell him to get himself educated for once because his relevance and credibility is all but gone.
For those who cannot stand Napo for reasons best known to them, when a State-owned company with a Board and a Management, running the day-to-day administration of the company even encounters challenges in their service delivery, they resort to attacking him and calling him names. Another sad case in point was when in March 2023, Adakabri Frimpong Manso, host of Neat FM’s afternoon political show launched ferocious attacks on the sector Minister because the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) had some vending challenges. In his words “Y3redem no” to wit, we are insulting him. Such characters forget that, the history of this country is replete with a plethora of examples where Chief Executives and Board Members of State-owned Enterprises, who fall under ministries, stand trial and, in some cases, get jailed for wrongdoing without the sector Ministers facing same or similar fates. This sums up the preposterous nature of the position of Adakabri, Captain Smart and their ilk.
I can go on and on, citing examples of these recent onslaughts on the Energy Minister.
I have no scintilla of doubt, that more schemes in the nature of the ones mentioned above, are on fire cooking against the Minister whose performance as a public servant continues to receive resounding applause from objective minded Ghanaians. Many Ghanaians hold the strong view that, the magic wand he wielded as Minister of Education, leading the implementation of the vision of His Excellency President, the Free Senior High School Policy, won the NPP a second term in the 2020 elections.
In the same vein, it is believed that, his sterling performance and leadership as Energy Minister, keeping the lights on and ensuring the availability of petroleum products in the midst of global crises and its attendant economic difficulties will win the NPP a consecutive 3rd term victory in 2024. This is in the face of the irrefutable fact that, the NDC under John Mahama had been abysmal in the management of the energy sector between 2013 and 2016 plunging Ghana into a pervasive ‘Dumsor’. When asked about the Magic Wand he wields, that makes him so effective in every sector he leads, he mentioned “GOD”. Indeed, Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by God”
It is the above reasons evident in Dr. Prempeh’s resolve to serve diligently his nation, that is giving some people sleepless nights. It has also been said, that due to the proximity to political season, where crucial political decisions are likely to be made based on political risk variables such as reputation, among others, people who do not like Napo have resorted to Machiavellian maneuverings to malign him and to bring him down in the eyes of his constituents and Ghanaians at large. The good news is that, Ghanaians are so discerning and can decipher ill-will and malice. This is only but a pair trawling mission by his political ‘assailants’
Ghanaians say Napo has a certain energy that gave maxi-light to Ghana’s education and same is currently the source of the nation’s energy sector, hence “Napo’s energy at energy” has become the refrain of the ‘boys and girls’ on the streets. This is in total veneration and celebration of the sleepless nights, resilience, fortitude and hard work of the Minister.
Napo’s generosity knows no bound. He helps humanity without a blink. At a recent engagement with the YoLe Fellows of the UNFPA, the Minister when asked about one fun fact about him said “I love to help others”. This predisposition is inherent in his pathways in life; Medicine and Politics – welfare of the people. He comes from a background where public service is considered a sacred duty. This is what keeps him awake, as perilous as it may be. The testimonies by people in this regard will remain uncountable.
His altruism and humility, I am so sure, underpins the numerous positive predictions on his political future by people even outside his political party. Afterall, the governed will always crave for leaders who care about their welfare and this is the true nature of Matthew Opoku Prempeh. He continues to serve his nation with utmost fidelity
Napo’s crystal ball gaze will not be distracted. That hallowed philosophical statement at the onset of this piece, respectfully refers.
The writer, KOFI ABREFA AFENA is Political Risk Analyst. He holds an MBA in Corporate Communications Strategy & Brand Management, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science with Sociology and a Member of the Institute of Public Relations – Ghana