The contents of a press statement read by Pastor Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church at a press conference earlier today has come to our attention.
We wish to place on record that we have deep respect for Pastor Otabil and are mindful of the enormous contribution he has made over the years towards the spiritual upliftment of Ghanaians through his inspirational messages. We also take note of the significant investments Pastor Otabil has made in education through the setting up of a University and other charities aimed at assisting the needy in society.
Though Pastor Otabil did not mention us by name, we are constrained to clarify a number of issues he raised in view of the fact that we are the only organization which has sponsored advertisement in which Pastor Otabil’s statements featured.
Education Watch is a non-profit organization committed to deepening public awareness of electoral issues. In light of the many promises that have been broken by both the NDC and NPP since 1992, we deem it necessary to encourage public scrutiny of campaign promises in this electoral season in order to ensure that Ghanaians do not fall prey to deceptive promises couched purposely for electoral victory.
A case in point is the Free SHS program being touted by Nana Akufo Addo. Upon careful analysis of the proposal we came to the conclusion that there are too many gaps and inconsistencies in that particular promise. We also believe that beyond seeking to capture the votes of unsuspecting Ghanaians, that promise will not resolve the many problems within our educational system. This explains why we have sponsored advertisements both on Television and Radio to expose serious inconsistencies in the figures put out by leading NPP functionaries relative to the cost of the program.
With regards to the Pastor Otabil tape, we note that Pastor Otabil did not state his position on Free Education at the press briefing. We however wish to state that Education Watch was not the source of the voice recording in question. In deed the existence of the recording was first reported by the media. Upon hearing the recording we took steps to obtain the full version which confirmed that the voice on the recording was that of Pastor Otabil. We were convinced after listening to the entire recording that it was relevant to the current debate on education in spite of the fact that it was made years ago. We then took relevant portions of his sermon to illustrate our position on Akufo Addo’s SHS promise as it would have been impractical to use the entire tape due to time and resource constraints. It is therefore erroneous for anyone to suggest that we have doctored his comments for parochial purposes.
Nowhere in the advertisement we have sponsored did we create the impression that Pastor Otabil’s comments were recent. In any event we are of the belief that the time that something was said is immaterial in this context.It is the import and truthfulness of the statements that matter. We are sure that based on biblical injunction Pastor Otabil has spoken out against wrongdoing such as murder, adultery and other sins. Is it to be understood from Pastor Otabil’s statement today that because the Bible was written two thousand years ago, his messages against sin founded on biblical injunction should be ignored?
On the issue of seeking permission before rebroadcasting messages which he preached publicly, we note that Pastor Otabil over the years has based his sermons on the Bible and we do not believe that before quoting relevant parts of the Bible to buttress his messages he seeks permission from its authors.
We are also at a loss at the suggestion by Pastor Otabil that by playing back his words in an advertisement, we have attacked his person or his integrity. Anyone who has heard the advertisement in question will bear witness that nowhere did we question or attack Pastor Otabil’s integrity or person. Also in putting out the advertisement we had not accused Pastor Otabil of any wrong doing. It can therefore not be described as defamatory, unethical, criminal, malicious, Machiavellian or evil as he puts it.
In fact the only thing that comes close to being defamatory, unethical, criminal, malicious, Machiavellian and evil is the falsehood which was spread by NPP operatives in 2008 to the effect that a hit list which had Pastor Otabil’s name had been drawn up by the NDC with a view to murdering such persons when it came to power. We recall that when this wicked lie became topical, Pastor Otabil did not find it prudent to condemn what was clearly an attempt to sow seeds of fear in the Ghanaian public for electoral advantage by a “marauding” and bullying force. Pastor Otabil stated at today’s press encounter that he kept silent on that matter. We wish to ask whether in keeping quite then he did not allow a sinister force, a force of impunity, a force of treachery and a force of evil to prowl our nation? Did Pastor Otabil allow evil to triumph in 2008?
We wish to express our disquiet at the veiled suggestion by Pastor Otabil that we are surrogates of President Mahama and therefore he should rein us in. We find that attack on President Mahama at our instance most unfortunate. How can President Mahama take responsibility for the actions of Education Watch which like Pastor Otabil is not affiliated to any political party?
We are equally alarmed at Pastor Otabil’s admission that he does not comment on matters arising out of our politics because he may be tagged when he does so. We are alarmed because to take such a position will amount to shirking his responsibility as a revered man of God to speak out against wrongdoing in society as did the early Apostles who at the peril of their lives spoke out against evil.
In conclusion we wish to make clear that we stand by our advert as we are of the opinion that Pastor Otabil spoke the truth. We will in the coming days pay for the entire message to be played on media outlets in order to settle this matter once and for all.
Agbezuge Kofi Doe-Lawson
Executive Secretary – Education Watch Ghana