There is something very wrong with deputy information minister, Baba Jamal. It could be that he suffers from a very bloated sense of his own intelligence or he thinks most Ghanaians are idiots. It’s a very serious disease and the earlier he’s cured the better for himself, his government and the nation.

He started exhibiting symptoms of the disease when he argued that the Embraer 190 aircraft government was ordering as a “military” jet could be used to clampdown on armed robbers.

Then he claimed that President Mills’ presence in Atiwa helped to bring the flooding in the area under control – because the president is a man of prayer.

Jamal: “A wondrous thing happened and I must say it. On Monday, the president decided to move and go there. He just didn’t go there to look around. When he raised his eyes up and brought them down, he said ‘Oh God, have mercy on us’. Then the stagnant water that had been there for a week was suddenly dry the next day and taxis were driving on the road again.”

Interviewer: “So the water dried up because the president was there”?

Jamal: The presence of the Lord was there; he came in and said ‘God have mercy on us’ and the waters receded within less than 24 hours.

When I heard his comments about the president and the floods, I started wondering what sort of powder Mr. Jamal had been using or whether he was suffering the side effects of inhaling fumes from some proscribed herbs.

But now, after hearing, for the first time, his address to staff of the Information Services Department, I have no doubt that whatever powder he’s been using is having a telling effect on him. It’s not a good powder. It’s neither talcum powder nor Korle Bu ‘dusting’ powder. And the herbs he’s been smoking are definitely not as harmless as the medicinal leaves of the ‘Acheampong’ plant.

Seeming very agitated and screaming into the microphone, Jamal practically told the ISD staff to go out of their way and lie to the rest of the world in order to portray the government in positive light.

“Yours is to make government look good, whatever the circumstance,” he said. “If government buys a sheep and gives it out as a gift, you are free to say it is a cow. If the colour is black, you can say it is white, colourful sheep or cow… We are going into elections next year. So the Municipal and district chief executives, any ISD staff who is going against his ethics or mandate, let us see him quickly before he sees us out.”

That speech was delivered two months ago. But I, like most Ghanaians, heard the tape for the first time on Tuesday. Now that the tape has surfaced, and coming on the heels of the recording in which he is accused of attempting to bribe journalists, questions are justifiably being asked about why he would so threaten staff of the ISD. His response is what makes me feel strongly that Baba Jamal thinks that we are all a bunch of fools in this country who do not know the difference between day and night.

Jamal claims that all he said on the tape was a joke.

In the audio recording of his speech to the ISD staff, you hear some people laughing – especially when he said “if government buys a sheep, you are free to say it is a cow.” It’s hard to tell those who were laughing. But I want to believe it was mostly the district chief executives present at the meeting who were laughing. I also believe that if the laughter was from the ISD staff, they might only have been laughing at the wrong sides of the mouths.

No professional laughs at the suggestion that he should go out and tell blatant lies – unless his job description clearly includes a mandate to lie every minute of every day. As far as I know ISD staff are not supposed to lie. Theirs is to inform people about government policy. This doesn’t include going out of their way to make a bad government look good as Baba Jamal suggested. So it’s hard for me to see the professionals at the ISD, laughing at threats from their boss who screams at them and tells them that they would be sacked if they do not tell lies to portray the government in good light.

If none of them is complaining, it is not because they saw Jamal’s speech as some sort of a ministerial a comedic gig. They took his threats very seriously and they are afraid that if they speak their minds, they would be sacked – as the minister threatened. If you are directed to tell the world that a sheep is a cow, it follows that when you feel appalled you should tell the world that you were regaled and that you’ve never felt better.

Atta Mills should be feeling very ashamed of Baba Jamal. But he’s not. Baba Jamal is doing exactly what he was appointed to do – roughing people up, needlessly ruffle feathers and engage in senseless propaganda. Even so one would have expected that he would go about it with a modicum of finesse. Now, he’s doing it like a thug – forcing ridiculous lies down our throats. With such behaviour, he is turning out to be worse than Asamoah Boateng. I suppose we all know how Asamoah Boateng helped the NPP to lose the last election. The NDC’s prospects of staying in power are not that bright but with the likes of Baba Jamal around, those prospects are dimming fast with every passing day.

I won’t say he should be sacked because he won’t. At the very least, he must be taken off whatever powder he’s been using and all his herbs taken away and burnt before he self-destructs.


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