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Opinions of Monday, 12 December 2016

Columnist: Abdulai Rashid

Where was our first lady?

By Abdulai Rashid

It was a sober speech carefully delivered for an occasion that was not expected. The message was clear - history shall judge the legacy the President has defined for his presidency. The atmosphere was understandably tense with cemetery-silence. To cheers, no jeers, a few tears! Faces were gloomy and eyes returning deep into their sockets.

One thing was not clear. The Romeo did not have his Juliet in this solemn night. A night when he needed her the most. I am not going drip blots onto an otherwise nobility and graciousness of our outgoing President but Ghana is a democracy where freedom of speech is an integral element of the Rule of Law. Unlike elsewhere in the world, in Ghana we seek answers.

Where was our First Lady when the President was delivering the historic concession speech in an emotionally filled night? The President was not without enough good and trusted company. But none could fill void of the First Lady’s absence.

She has been a mother to our nation and represented us abroad with high reputation. The nation has looked to her for inspiration and was looking out to her for comfort in a moment of difficulty.

You stood shoulder to shoulder to the President when he was ascending to the throne some four years ago. This symbolized your readiness to stand by our nation through thick and thin. Why has thy forsaken us at a rather sad moment?

The personal, psychological and emotional support for the President, your husband and sympathizers of the party he represents is a convention in Democracies that ought to be upheld. I can give a couple of examples in Ghana and around the world.

In 2013, When Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo delivered his concession speech after the Supreme Court ruled the outcome of the 2012 elections in favour of President John Dramani Mahama, his wife was standing by him.

Six months ago, when David Cameron lost the famous Brexit Referendum, which finally defined his regime as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, his wife stood next behind him as he delivered his last and resignation speech at No. 10 Downing Street.

Last month, when Hillary Clinton delivered her concession speech to Donald Trump in an unexpected lost, her husband, Bill Clinton stood next to her with his eyes soaked in tears.

If during victory and moments of happiness, the First Lady would stand next to the President, we expect nothing short of this during defeat and moments of sadness. This gesture is not a personal decision but an obligation to the nation that addressed you as “Her Excellency”.

Failure to uphold this obligation raises questions of loyalty and open floodgates for conspiracy theories. I am not going to open this can of worms but I believe that the nation’s expectation from our First Lady and mother last night was clearly unmet.