Vintage John Dramani Mahama

“The task of managing African nations is difficult and not for the faint-hearted,” this statement was made by Osagyefo Amotia Ofori Panin, Okyehene during a Thanksgiving Service for President Akufo-Addo at Kyebi last Sunday.

I agree with Okyehene that running a government seamlessly and competently in Africa is not a child’s play, and beyond all sense and reason there is the need to applaud H.E. John Dramani Mahama for managing Ghana for over four years without any major negative incident. If it is wrong to give honour to JM, then I don’t want to be right.

A flutter of excitement welled up in my heart during the swearing-in ceremony of President Akufo-Addo a few days ago. The programme was very colorful and well attended; and the speech of our new president was racy. But I cringed, when his speech was taken over by a coughing fit, and I wondered why his handlers did not make some water available.

As if this blooper was not enough, the speechwriters of our president brought shame on us by plagiarising portions of US President Bill Clinton’s first inaugural speech and that of Presidents Bush, J.F. Kennedy and Buhari.

Furthermore, in  paragraph 4 of the inaugural speech, our  president thanked Ouatarra for his “excellent speech” before the Ivorian president even delivered his speech. That was sad; more than sad. More like pathetic!

Tears  blurred my vision as many international media tore the image of H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo and that of our country into shreds for plagiarism and gross incompetence.  In fact,  I felt antsy, and totally flaked. I jones for the sacking of those inept speechwriters who hard a whole month  to prepare Nana’s inaugural speech.

I think my desire for their removal is justifiable. After all, the Deputy Director linked to the plagiarism of Obama’s speech  in President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech when he launched the “Change Begins With Me” campaign was  sacked instantly. Kikikikiki, perhaps, we are going to have a reshuffle of appointees in the first week of President Akufo-Addo’s government, which will possibly be a record in the history of Ghana.

What happened is unforgivable because plagiarism is unethical and has damaged the reputation and credibility of some great people.

Hungary’s President Pal Schmitt resigned after he was stripped of his doctorate over plagiarism.

A young author,  Kaavya Viswanathan wrote  a popular book and DreamWorks signed a deal with her to make it into a movie. Unfortunately, it turned out that  Viswanathan had plagiarised portions of a book of  another author, Megan McCafferty.

Viswanathan’s publisher stood by her, saying that any similarity in wording was unintentional and unconscious, but soon,  it was discovered that more than 45 sections of the book had been lifted from McCafferty’s work. Viswanathan’s publisher cancelled her next book contract and DreamWorks tore up the movie deal.

The ripple effects of Viswanathan’s plagiarism included a huge mark of dishonour for her publisher, which no doubt cost them in terms of securing future book deals with reputable authors.

Even though Viswanathan graduated with honors from Havard University, her future endeavours were met with skepticism.

I believe one major reason why President Mahama lost the 2016 election is that the expectations of  party activists were not met. Most of them felt neglected and therefore, did not vote. I see the new NPP government having serious problems not only for making incredible promises to the electorate, but for raising the hopes of their supporters too high.

No president can meet the expectations of all  his or her supporters in his or her first term. It’s impossible. Perhaps much inroads could be made in the second term if the president is lucky to scale that wall.

As I watched the Invincible Forces of the NPP taking over public offices, tollbooths and toilets on TV, I swallowed over a knot of fear and said to myself, “Our President is in trouble!” The painful truth is that not everybody can be employed or appointed, and so, many people are going to be disappointed. For example, my research shows that in  most districts, an average of 27 people per district are lobbying for the post of DCE/MCE in this current administration, but interestingly, only one person can occupy that position in each district.

These are the stark  realities faced by presidents especially those on our continent. But in all these, President Mahama stood tall. If our new President and his handlers could cause such unpardonable blunders minutes within taking office, then I can’t agree more with President Akufo-Addo that former President Mahama is an extraordinary leader. He deserves to be called Vintage John Dramani Mahama, and I also believe that history will be his judge. Ghanaians will miss him soonest.

Anthony Obeng Afrane

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