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Opinions of Friday, 20 January 2017

Columnist: Oteng-Attakora, George

Permission to plagiarize

President Akufo-Addo President Akufo-Addo

A lot was said about Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the fourth Republic, fifth President of Ghana when he gave his inaugural speech borrowing from former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. This gave material to international news anchors and comedian, Trevor Noah to have a field day. The office of the President has since issued an apology for failing to make references to the former US Presidents.

I wish the President of Ghana had borrowed from President Obama. There would have been no retribution then. After all, Obama, some say stands for “Original Black African Managing America”. It wouldn’t have been a big deal borrowing from a fellow African. In his last News Conference before leaving office, President Obama on 1/18/2017 addressed the press and the nation in words that I encourage the President of Ghana to borrow from. By making reference to President Obama in this context, I have cited the needed reference and the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo and all African leaders are encouraged to use it freely and live by it:

This is what the leader of the free world, President Obama had to say to the press;

"You’re not supposed to be fans, you’re supposed to be skeptics, you’re supposed to ask me tough questions. You’re not supposed to be complimentary, but you’re supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here,"….. It keeps us honest, it makes us work harder. You (have made) make us think about how we are doing what we do and whether or not we’re able to deliver on what’s been requested by our constituents.

By these statements, its clear President Obama understood that the Presidency is a humbling position. It is a position to serve and be accountable to the people. It is not one of Kingship to be served. Historically, Ghanaians and Africans in general have been ruled by Kings and tribal Chiefs rooted in superstitious spiritual stool gods whose position have been one of Lordship. They are not questionable and are not questioned. (“Nana ka obi nkabi”). They are not held accountable because of their absolute power and authority. This culture of Kingship or Oga as is known in other places in Africa has become so engrained in our daily and political lives that African leaders, Ministers and even managers of corporations and institutions treat their positions in public office as chiefs; giving rise to corruption, favoritism, appointment of unqualified people, mismanagement and ultimately poor results. Such vicious cycle of master and subject relationship continues to perpetuate because in part most people in Ghana (Africa) surrender loyalty to the Kingship behavior and struggle to surrender to constitutional rule; a trait my good friend Kenneth Akuoko calls; the African DNA.

It is my hope that Presidents Obama’s statements become an encouragement to both ordinary citizens and leaders alike; that we make these statements our own, feel empowered to question and hold accountable the people we have elected into office. The National anthem of Ghana calls for Ghanaians to be bold to defend the course of Freedom and our rights. This call is not necessarily for war against foreign invaders, but that which takes away our freedom and right for good governance, prosperity and liberty.

To Mr. President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and leaders of Africa, it is hoped that you will be inspired by President Obama’s statement to be transparent and treat the office of the President as a job with deliverables for which you have been appointed by the people to serve. This is not a warrior position, one of a King or a traditional Chief, but that of a President for and by the people, interpreting the constitution, uniting the country, promoting law and order of which no one is above; allowing the judiciary to function, of sound economic policies, fiscal discipline and accountable to the electorate.

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