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Opinions of Thursday, 6 April 2017

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Renunciation of citizenship for what?

By: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe

I have not had the chance to view any of the parliamentary vetting sessions. But from my readings of the media coverage of these vetting sessions, I must confess that their apparent frivolity convinces me that I have made the right decision. The nature of a remarkable percentage of the questions posed the candidates, from my readings of the coverage, appears to have more to do with the personal hang-ups, petty jealousies and insecurities of some members of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC) than anything else.

But what intrigues me more than all else, is the apparently perennial inability of the average Ghanaian journalist to differentiate between the verbs “denounce” and “renounce,” particularly whenever the citizenship status of a candidate known to have resided or to have been residing abroad comes up. You “denounce” your foreign-acquired citizenship when you envisage it to be an act of criminal disloyalty to your country of birth, in which case it becomes an act to be disdained with utmost horror; or the subject of such foreign-citizenship acquisition deems the same to have been forcibly imposed.

On the other hand, you renounce your dual citizenship, especially your foreign-acquired citizenship because the circumstances under which such citizenship was acquired no longer prevails. Oftentimes, such circumstances may entail an unhealthy political climate in one’s country of birth or bleak economic circumstances or a combination of both political and economic circumstances.

What has struck me as rather quaint is the facile alacrity with which candidates with dual citizenship who have appeared before the PAC have demonstrated their willingness to “renounce” the same. I personally feel that rather than frivolously launch into tired and boring biographical narratives of the rich and famous parents of some of these vetting candidates, the focus ought to be on the circumstances under which such acquisition of foreign citizenship was contracted or acquired. For some of us, the choice of dual-citizenship acquisition was strikingly akin to the metaphorical imagery of a rock and a hard place.

And the process of dual-citizenship renunciation may not be that simple, especially where what such a process entails does not necessarily translate into improved status, either socioeconomically and/or politically. What needs to be foregrounded is the input which the candidate with dual-citizenship status brings to the new appointment, or ministerial portfolio, in the critical context of the employer or hiring government’s development-policy agenda.

But it is also quite amusing how academic distinction is often erroneously associated with a comfortable livelihood, even by those in the mainstream of Ghanaian politics who ought to know better. Which is why I couldn’t help falling off my chair with laughter when I came across the following news headline: “Prof. Adu-Boahen ‘Was Broke as a Historian’.” In the case of the legendary Ghanaian historian and thinker, the exigencies of the time, to wit, the inclement political climate, necessitated a sacrificial stepping up to the plate, as it were.

In other words, had Prof. Adu-Boahen gone into sojourn like Kenya’s Prof. Ali Mazrui, for just one example, and availed himself of prime opportunities in the more “civilized” West, he almost definitely would not have ended up as “broke” as he is reported by his son, Mr. Charles Adu-Boahen, the newly appointed Deputy Finance and Economic Planning Minister, to have told the members of the PAC recently.

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