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Opinions of Friday, 24 September 2010

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.

Who Is In Charge of President Mills' Wardrobe?

President John Fiifi Mills’ ongoing trip to Beijing to borrow money and saddle Ghanaians with yet more debt has brought to the fore a serious problem regarding the president’s ceremonial habiliments. Let us put aside for a moment the $3 billion dollars that Ghana is attempting to borrow from the Chinese for the development of the economy. Irrespective of one’s anger toward the government for this perpetual cycle of indebtedness from which Ghanaians may never recover, future oil money or not, every Ghanaian must be concerned about how the president is often presented to the outside world by his aides.



President Mills has often appeared in public wearing ill-fitting, oversized or poorly designed suits. Why, if I may ask? This issue has nothing to do with political ideology – I expect a non-partisan approach to the discussion – but has everything to do with our pride as Ghanaians. Fiifi Mills is the sitting president of Ghana, so he represents all Ghanaians – whether they are based in Accra or London, Dubai or Rome, Atlanta or Johannesburg.



In a rather conspicuous photo that was splashed on the pages of Ghanaweb.com on Monday, September 20, 2010, in which John Fiifi Mills was seen shaking hands with the Chinese premier, Hu Jintao, Mills’ suit appeared creased, especially around the shoulders; was ill-fitting with the top button open, a no-no in an official setting; and looked cheap. Conversely, Hu Jintao’s suit appeared crisp, custom-made, and properly buttoned, with the Chinese premier’s overall appearance superior to Fiifi Mills’.



I certainly hope that someone at the presidency is responsible for the president’s wardrobe; if not, we need to hire a fashionista immediately to save us from future embarrassments. The suit Mills wore during his first public appearance with Hu Jintao in Beijing on Monday, September 20, 2010, should embarrass all Ghanaians who take pride in their nascent democracy and the symbolic nature of the presidency. Without a doubt, Mills’ suit looked like something an aide grabbed from the hand-me-down clothing line at Agbogbloshie Market – and that is clearly unacceptable! Or was the five-foot-ten John Mills manhandled by his former boss, six-foot-four Jerry Kwasivi Rawlings, shortly before the sitting Ghanaian president met with Hu Jintao? Okay, the preceding was just a joke!



Now, we need to be careful as a nation when we go to others with a bowl in hand, because the Chinese, in particular, are very crafty! With China’s consumption of oil at an all-time high in contemporary times, that nation’s leaders are determined to “take over” as many of the world’s oil fields as possible. If in doubt, we simply need to look at how the Chinese have turned Sudan into a “protectorate,” turning a blind eye, in the process, to all the abuses perpetrated by Omar al-Bashir and his Janjaweed mercenaries against their fellow citizens. This writer is certainly not against doing business with the Chinese, but Ghanaian leaders must protect the interests of the nation, by making sure that they study very carefully the fine print of each document before putting pen to paper. We have mortgaged our children’s future enough already, and we need to learn to avert further damage, going forward.

And why the violation of protocol by the Chinese government when it sent Deputy Foreign Minister, Zhat Jin, to meet President Mills at the airport? International protocol holds that a host president must always meet his/her visiting counterpart at the airport, unless there was a germane explanation as to why that would not be possible!



Written and submitted September 22, 2010.



The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master's degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.