It is interesting how Brand #JohnMahama has completely overshadowed the 63rd Independence message of the President to the people of Ghana.
Or there was really no message, judging from the zeal with which social media hounds of the government and some news outlets chose to focus on the publication of a supposed empty seat of the former president at the Kumasi event.
Some government workers including a media officer at the Presidency, Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe, and supporters of the ruling party have tagged me in their posts of the supposed empty chair. Truly, I am still trying to understand what their concern or interests are, because their boss, Nana Akufo-Addo, does not like it, in fact, he hates the idea of #JohnMahama’s presence at events and programmes he attends.
1. It is a statement of fact that President Mahama is not required to be at each and every event he is invited to. And the same applies to the President. That is why the Vice President(VP) Bawumia and other ministers have and continue to represent him at various activities he’s invited too, and often after the invitations are accepted. Was the President at the annual 28th February Crossroads shooting incident and the Milo- sponsored State Award for School Children? Are these indicative of him acting childishly and leaving these roles for the VP?
2. In Tamale last year, was former President John Agyekum Kufuor there? And is the government suggesting that by his absence he did not act as a Statesman and therefore petty, knowing the seeming discontent among some of his loyalists within the system?
3. Was President Rawlings at the Friday event in Kumasi? And why was his chair not labeled supposedly and photographed and circulated?
4. Now, it is important to point out that in Tamale last year, both Rawlings and Mahama were packed into a corner row in the stands, not among or along the VVIP row, for the ceremony. That’s obvious, isn’t it? Why are photos been released of a supposed chair on the same row with Nana Addo and claiming that’s his seating place?
5. Was it not at the Tamale Independence event that Ghana Television, which was providing the live feed, was instructed not to capture the arrival of John Mahama, and throughout the ceremony, he and his delegation were cut out of the coverage? Was that not because the President was uncomfortable with his presence, and he was not even acknowledged when he arrived and sat down for the ceremony? So what is Akufo-Addo’s beef today, if he could not make it for yet another ceremony?
6. Let us remember that while President Mahama had and still demonstrates a great sense of oneness and respect for all, and has demonstrated it wherever he is and with all including political opponents, same cannot be said of Mr. Akufo-Addo. He crowned his abhorrence of Mahama’s presence with him at events with his embarrassing outing in September 2019 during the Kofi Annan International Forum. So why would Mahama’s absence at Friday’s event be a matter of concern to him and his people?
7. Now, are the ceremonial staff of the State Protocol Department telling us that their established norm is for the printing of huge name placement tags, splashed in the manner it was done, and the event brochure dropped on a VVIP’s chair, in the manner the photo depicts?
8. Are the ceremonial staff of the SPD working with the Political Protocol from the Presidency saying that the former president would have sat alone without even a seat for his ADC and/ or Aide/ National Chairman of the NDC behind him, given that the seats behind him were all occupied? Or in the haste to execute a political propaganda, these basic protocol facts escaped you?
9. Are the Ceremonial Staff and Presidency Protocol saying that they would leave a chair for a former president at a time, they have for hours not spotted a member of his Advance and Protocol team, which is the basic SOP, and will leave a supposed seat even after the VP has arrived, the President has arrived and the SGH has arrived and the programme commenced?
10. Is the Presidency claiming that there were no officials of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the event, representing the former president and leadership of the party, the leader of which they should have given Mahama’s seat to?
11. Are they also claiming that they did not see and deliberately pushed the NDC delegation into a ‘corner somewhere’ away from the cameras and refused to even acknowledge them, a similar thing they would have done if Mahama had attended? So why are they really worried?
12. Be it as it may, whatever made it impossible for the NDC leader and former President Mahama to be present for the 63rd Independence Anniversary Parade, President Akufo-Addo should obviously be a happy man for it. Because it meets his desire not to have John Mahama at events and programmes, he is also attending. This is a man who complains to even international organisations about Mahama’s invitations to their programmes and forums and opts out if Mahama is attending. Lots of examples and he knows it.
13. So why the baseless propaganda that not attending this years parade is a ‘sin’ and insult to Asanteman? Was Nana Addo’s absence from the 28 February Crossroad Shooting incident an insult to the Ga People? Is Nana Addo’s absence without information from three editions of the Anlo HogbetsotsoZa intended to be an insult to Anlos and Ewes generally?
14. Since when did it become mandatory for leaders of political parties and also by extension former presidents to be present at each and all state organised events? What about the ones that they are not invited to?
15. President Mahama and the NDC were adequately represented at the Kumasi event, and the NDC is well known as a party of consensus building, national unity and diversity than the NPP, and that fact cannot be changed.
16. In the full glare of Otumfuo the Asantehene and the PM of Trinidad and Tobago, was the national parade not turned into an NPP fun fare and party rally? Is that reflective of a party committed and desirous of a united country?
17. Obviously, the President’s address was empty and John Mahama is selling far and better than the message, so continue to push and promote the Ghanaian Brand, #JohnMahama.
1. Did I hear that the male GTV commentators for the day actually claimed and stated so boldly, twice without correction from the Military Summarizer, that this was the first that the Ghana Armed Forces was holding a rappelling display at an Independence Parade? Really!! That’s false and the Commentators must expunge their false claims from the historical records.
2. The above is my personal view, as Stan Xoese Dogbe, and my contribution to the on-going discussions. They are not the views of or a statement from any Office I am associated with or the political party I belong to, the great NDC.