I have observed with keen interest the arguments about Abraham Attah’s appointment as ambassador for the free Senior High School (SHS) policy by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Is it necessary to have an ambassador for it? He is not even schooling in Ghana so why is he appointed as the ambassador for the free SHS? All the arguments on social and traditional media are around these questions.
Social media has given users the space to express their grievances about issues in the state. It is one of the greatest opportunities for the unfortunate to have a voice. To the owners of the popular social media networks, we are all indebted.
I would want to share my opinion on why the Abraham Attah’s appointment as ambassador for free SHS programme is a laudable idea. This ambassadorial role seeks to achieve two aims; to convince students to go to school and to magnet investors (both national and international).
It is no news that the Ghanaian economy is suffering. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) countered the NPP when it (NPP) started campaigning with the free SHS as its flagship campaign promise arguing that they (NPP) would not be able to undertake it. One of the reasons given by NDC was that the NPP would not get funds for this ambitious programme. The NDC was in power when it said this. That makes such statement from the NDC heavy!
Winning the 2016 general elections, the NPP has been looking for smart ways to undertake their campaign promises and run the economy in general. They have confirmed that the economy is broke beyond what they anticipated. All the revelations about the deep-seated corruption in the previous administration is to convince Ghanaians that there has been some level of create, loot and share in the previous administration so the monies left are not enough to embark on their highfalutin campaign promises.
Ghana’s debt-to- GDP ratio is the highest amongst the country’s peers. “Ghana is broke, we don’t have money. Let’s call a spade a spade. Whether we embellish the status of the nation with figures or words, the reality still remains that the country is broke” Director of Operations, Dalex Finance, Mr. Joe Jackson said in February 2017. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in March 2016 said Ghana is broke and the Bretton Wood institution expressed concerns over the deteriorating debt situation in the country. The total public debt stock as at December 2015 stood at GHC 97 billion representing 72% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Winning the ‘Marcello Mastroianni Award’ for ‘Best Male Lead Young Actor’ for his role in ‘Beast of no nation’ movie, Abraham Attah undeniably is an international figure now and has a compelling brand across the world. News about him is of interest to both the national and international media. His ambassadorial role alone has attracted the national and international media’s attention. Before the NDC left power, there were attempts by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to appoint Abraham Attah as a Tourism Ambassador but that never saw the light of day. This further confirms how attractive the Abraham Attah brand is to the leading political parties in Ghana. Scoring 4.0 grade point average and receiving Scholastic Improvement Award by Chershire Academy, that feat attracted oodles of media coverage. Returning home for his summer holidays, Abraham Attah donated 10,000 pairs of Toms shoes to children in Northern Ghana. That also attracted the national and international media’s coverage. Simply put, his cough could even attract the media’s attention.
If anyone has a smattering of how foreign media profile a personality, there is not a little detail that is spared when a star/celebrity is profiled. As ambassador for the free SHS, the programme could be sold to potential national and international investors with ease with Abraham Attah’s well endorsed brand. The ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ movie cast, Abraham Attah as it stands now is the best choice for this ambassadorial role than any child-star in Ghana. No national or international media would interview Abraham Attah without asking about his free SHS ambassadorial role. That alone is a mega advertisement for the programme.
Obviously, Abraham Attah is not currently in the Ghanaian education system which makes his ambassadorial appointment quite questionable. Nonetheless, who should be an ambassador goes beyond who is currently in the system and who is not. One of the main aims of appointing a brand ambassador is to drive sales. The first question management ask is, who can drive our sales up?
The association of the English Footballer David Beckham with Hennes & Mauritz (H&m) gave it an overwhelming rise in 2012 second-quarter pre-tax profit. It is reported by The Sunday Times UK that “Pre-tax profits reached SEK7.1 billion (£647 million), compared with SEK5.8 billion for the same period last year (2011) and analysts’ forecasts for SEK 6.6 billion.”
Even though Nike had a harsh 2016 by being the worst-performing Dow 30 stock, making it the first time in five years that Nike had performed that badly, Hookit reports that, “Cristiano Ronaldo delivered $500 million in value for Nike during 2016 through his massive social media network.”
In May 2016, the Australian government advertised online for brand ambassadors for their National Broadband Network (NBN) programme to educate consumers on the NBN roll out as well as attracting investors to the sector.
As at press time, this Reporter could mention numerous brand ambassadors of a popular alcoholic beverage in Ghana. Amongst some of the ambassadors, I could mention one who does not drink alcohol but is made a brand ambassador for the alcoholic beverage. Indeed, he is currently not in the ‘alcohol system’ but he is a brand ambassador for the product. Till date, people who are close to the said star jovially ask him “how many bottles you suck today?” This further affirms that ambassadorial role goes beyond who is currently in the system and who is not.
Another school of thought is arguing that Maame Serwa, the Kumawood child-star is a better choice considering that fact that she’s still in Ghana. Indeed it would not be a bad idea to include her but if the Ministry of Education is to settling just one famous child as ambassador for the programme, Abraham Attah towers. Maame Serwa’s appeal has not reached international yet, even though she is still pushing her way to that height, Abraham Attah has a readily available international brand that the government could bank on to sell the programme to potential national and international investors. Governance is not a trial and error endeavor to be experimenting since most projects are time-bound. If there is an already existing spring board to launch a project, why waste a limited 4-year space to be experimenting?
Author: Nana Kwesi Coomson (www.233times.com) @nkcoomson on Twitter