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The Longman Dictionary of contemporary English defines TURNABOUT as “a complete change in someone’s opinions, ideas, or methods”.
The sudden denial by Pastor Mensah Otabil that he had condemned the free SHS proposal by the opposition NPP clearly fits into the above definition.
The General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Dr. Mensah Otabil, had made scathing comments, criticizing the one-point campaign promise of free Senior High School by Akuffo Addo if he is (touch wood) voted into power in 2013.
The tape recording, predictably, went viral in the media on Monday.
Barely 24 hours later, however, the ICGC issued a statement, signed by a Senior Associate Minister, Rev Kofi Okyere, claiming that the tape was nothing but a “collection of thoughts edited from a message shared by Pastor Otabil several years ago and pieced together to create the impression that he is taking a stand on the current political debate on the issue of education”.
This shameful turnabout seems to question the moral standing of a man generally held in high esteem in spite of his open political bias towards one political party.
We on the Ghanaian Lens newspaper strongly subscribe to the principle of separation of church and state. We revere Dr. Mensah Otabil and, for that matter, other leading members of the clergy who are spearheading the spiritual crusade of this nation.
But it is equally incumbent on us to challenge any Man of God who veers off into national political discourse and ends up betraying the basic principles required of any rational human being.
The argument that that tape is a “collection of thoughts edited from a message shared by Pastor Otabil several years ago and pieced together” is not only laughable but a clear case of playing mischief.
If Pastor Otabil and his spokesperson Rev. Okyere believe that this is a fabricated tape, then we challenge them to make an official complaint to the criminal investigations department and also produce the original tape of each of the various tapes from which these “thoughts were pieced together” from.
By his statement, Rev. Okyere has put Dr. Otabil’s integrity on the line. Those who were present when Dr. Otabil gave that sermon and therefore know that the tape in circulation is not a doctored or fabricated tape would forever be asking themselves whether, going forward, they can depend on the teachings of Dr. Otabil.
Truth is that, on tape, Dr. Otabil, who is the Chancellor of the Central University College, believes “Education can never be free. Somebody is paying for it… You see, when they come to you and say things like fee-free education, you are happy; take your children to school. Government is good.”
He continued “I don’t believe in free education. I said pay me well my due and let me have the joy of paying my own child’s school fees so that my child is not a property of the state. He’s my own child and I have the dignity of a father to pay for my own child. When my child grows up I say I paid your fees.”
He said those who believe such untruths that fees will be free do not understand what goes into fees paid by students. “Nothing is free, you are paying for it. Only you are being told you didn’t pay. How do you pay for it? Through taxation. Who pays the taxes? Me.”
Dr. Otabil, through Rev. Okyere, is now claiming that this was a message he was sharing “several years ago”. He is not telling the nation what this “several years ago” means.
Is Dr. Otabil and Rev. Okyere telling us that what was said “several years ago” is irrelevant today? If so, will these Men of God continue to preach the gospel based on teachings that Jesus Christ gave over two thousand years ago?
If it is still relevant today, then what is this whole attempt to distance Dr. Otabil from what he said?
Another question: Has Otabil’s views changed since these SEVERAL YEARS? If yes, why is he not stating it now?