President of the Creative Arts Council, Mark Okraku Mantey has mounted a spirited defense for Shirley Ayorkor Botchway following the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration minister’s dig at the National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary candidate for Ayawaso West Wuogon, John Dumelo.
Madam Ayorkor Botchway on a political platform in the constituency last week mentioned that parliament “is for serious-minded people and not people who have done some movies and think they are popular.”
In her quest to canvass votes for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate, the minister asseverated that “It is a serious place; I will tell him; the laws of the country are enacted in parliament. If our President can continue his job very well, he needs Lydia Alhassan in Parliament to do the job so that all you need as a constituency will be easily given to you.”
Her comment has elicited reactions from some persons in the creative industry. They have argued that the statement is an affront to the arts, demanding a retraction and an unqualified apology from the government appointee.
But making a submission on Peace FM’s Entertainment Review over the weekend, Okraku Mantey said Ayorkor Botchway has been taken out of context. He expounded that the comment was targeted at actor John Dumelo contrary to the suggestions it sought to cast a slur on people in the arts.
“There is a perception that John Dumelo is riding on his popularity so she was commenting about John Dumelo who is contesting Lydia Alhassan. Lately, John has done some interviews, he has shown his weakness in state governance and politics. Some have misconstrued her, they think she was taking a dig at creative persons but I’m saying she never made a generic statement,” Okraku Mantey clarified.
Citing examples to back his claim, the astute music producer noted that “Kojo Oppong Nkrumah [Information Minister] is from the media which is also a creative space. Nobody labels Kojo Oppong Nkrumah ‘weak’ or ignorant and that is because he knows what he’s about. This is to juxtapose that there are people who have shown they know what they are about and it must be noted that if you have a shortfall, around this time, it will be used against you. So Shirley noticed John has not been following governance but wants to be an MP.”
He motioned that Ayorkor Botchway’s interest in the arts is immeasurable hence, will not utter words with the motive of smearing the arts with mud. According to Okraku Mantey, Ayorkor Botchway who is being crucified for supposedly disrespecting the arts has on countless occasions demonstrated that she holds the sector in high esteem.
“She was the chairperson for the 2016 creative arts manifesto team. That is an indication she knows our space. She does not devalue us in any way. When we went to Cabinet as regards our Creative Arts Bill, the parliamentarians said they were tired so it should be postponed. She was the one to say no, she has an interest in creative arts,” Okraku Mantey averred.
Prior to Ayorkor Botchway’s dig at John Dumelo, the actor had been criticized by a section of the public for exhibiting what they termed as ‘gross ignorance’. They cited his failure to seek permission from the Assembly before dredging a gutter in the area, and his claim on live television that the NDC government never sold the Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) when indeed it did, as the basis for their argument.