Feature Article of Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Columnist: COSA

President Akufo-Addo will not withdraw his inaugural speech


On Saturday, 7th January 2016, Ghana recorded another milestone in its democratic forward march. The induction ceremony Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo which had in attendance many heads of states from the African continent and followed by several democratic watchers around the world was epic. The pomp and pageantry, and gusto that accompanied the investiture demonstrated the rich Ghanaian culture and the expectations of Ghanaians from the new government of the New Patriotic Party. President Akufo-Addo delivered one of the most inspiring and energizing speeches that has set the tone for a new national consciousness of the Ghanaian people to be citizens, not spectators.

One issue which has generated a lot of controversy both in the mainstream and social media days after the ceremony is that parts of the President’s speech contained statements that have supposedly been made by past presidents of the United States and Nigeria but were not appropriately acknowledged. It is important to state that the Acting Director of Communication at the presidency, Eugene Arhin has shown a level of responsibility by apologizing to the good people of Ghana for this mishap.

The Committee for Social Advocacy (COSA) is of the conviction that this faux pas was avoidable and is condemnable. However, we find it highly objectionable and irresponsible on the part of the minority caucus in parliament to demand a withdrawal of the President’s invigorating inaugural speech because of the failure to acknowledge statements of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Muhammadu Buhari contained in the speech. Indeed the posture of the minority in parliament smacks of double standard and can only be described also much ado about nothing.

We recall how the National Democratic Congress, then a majority in parliament vehemently opposed calls by a section of Ghanaians and the NPP for President John Evans Attah Mills to retake his oath of office after he groped by missing lines and mispronouncing words in reciting the Oath of Office of the President in 2009. The NDC together with its member of parliament, many of whom are still part of the current parliament mounted a strong defence for the late President Mills.

This incident happened on the floor of parliament and still remains in the archives of the parliament. How can the same people who justified and accepted President Mills’ mistake on the occasion of his inauguration make a quick U-turn to demand that President Akufo-Addo withdraws and resubmits a new speech because it is wrong for the mistakes in the speech to remain the archives of the same parliament? Indeed, the mistake that was committed by President Mills was even more serious because it bothered on the breach of the constitution of the Republic of Ghana. We want to believe that the minority has chosen to engage in this frolicsome triviality because there is not much parliamentary work to be done at the moment.

Indeed we expect the minority caucus to get serious, be responsible citizens and offer responsible opposition in parliament. They must begin to recognize and accept that Ghanaians are no longer interested in unnecessary distractions and drawbacks. There is a new focus, a new shift, promises to deliver and work to be done.

The members of the Committee for Social Advocacy shall remain responsible citizens, not spectators!


James McKeown

Lead Advocate – COSA