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Opinions of Sunday, 20 March 2005

Columnist: Asare-Donkoh, Frankie

Who is Victor Smith?

I read with much shock and anger the story headlined ?Veep Issued Ultimatum To Clear The Air?, which was published on the Ghanaweb General News of Friday, 18 March 2005.

The intro of the story was: ?Vice President Alieu Mahama has been issued a deadline to disclose the identity of an official of the University of Development Studies, whom he allegedly instructed to scuttle a congregation to honour former President Rawlings.?

The story quotes Mr Smith: ? I want the Vice President to swear on the Quran and tell Ghanaians that he did not make a phone call to some prominent person of the university advising him to cancel the event. He put in a phone call; I put it to him that he called a highly placed person to cancel the event. I WANT TO GIVE HIM TIME ACTUALLY TO TELL THE TRUTH (emphasis mine), the truth has to be told, there is no good reason for what happened because what the chairman is saying now is untenable?

My first impression was that President Kufuor has ?issued? that deadline. But to my surprise the deadline, according to the story (credited to Joy Online) was given by Mr Victor Smith, who titles himself as the ?aide of the former president?, a position which has no recognition as far as the constitution of the Republic of Ghana is concerned. Who is Victor Smith, anyway?

Where else in the world do we find ?the aide of a former president? allocating to himself so much powers that sometimes, he tries to place himself at par with or even above ministers of state and members of parliament who have been duly elected by the people?

Since President Rawlings left office, Mr Smith has allocated to himself some formality in that position he created for himself and used all kinds of language on some national officials. He has even usurped some powers of the National Democratic Congress, which has legitimacy to express some of the concerns of its leader and former head of their government (the NDC Government).

Unfortunately, the Ghanaian media have unconsciously helped the man to grow wings in that self-created title by unquestionably echoing all the fowl language. Freedom of speech, in my view, does not imply disrespect for authority of the high offices of our land. I think it was time Mr. Smith was told that in the Ghanaian scheme of things, politically or socially, there is no such position of ?aide of a former president?. How many presidents have Ghana had before President Rawlings? And how many ?aides of former presidents? do we have?

I am not sure Mr. Smith could have used the same language he has used at Alhaji Mahama Alieu at Prof. John Evans Attah Mills, the former Vice President when he was in office or even now that he is out office. Smith needs to be thought how to use some decorum in his language, especially in reference to the office of the President or Vice President. And it was time he stopped wasting our ears with this ridiculous title he has created for himself and allow the legitimate officials of the NDC to perform functions for the former President.

The Ghanaian media must also know better by refusing to swallow any of such self-created titles and offices which have no legal or official standing in the scheme of affairs of the nation.

We need to grow our democracy, but we can only do that when people like Victor Smith begin to respect the high offices of the nation and accord their occupants the respect due them.

I was so appalled by the cancellation of the intended conferment of an honourary degree on President Rawlings, because in my view, the former president deserves that award from that university, considering his personal commitment to its birth. But I do not think Victor Smith should have that audacity to address a sitting vice president in the language that he used. The story does not say what the response of the interviewer was, and if there was none, then I would say the Joy Online interviewer could be as guilty as Smith and both need to apologise to the Vice President.

And a word for President Rawlings. Your Excellency, I belief strongly that you have a place in the history of Ghana, and it was time you realised that and began to cherish that place instead of allowing people like Victor Smith to stain that reputation. Please, take a little break and let the nation give you all the respect due you as a former President and the longest served Head of State of our dear nation. I hope you would give a thought to what you might consider a childish suggestion of mine.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.