Ghana’s new president Nana Akufo-Addo was prepared for smooth sailing at his inauguration last Saturday until he delivered a speech that set off alarm bells and caused howls among social media users.
Prepared by speech writers, the new leader’s address contained word-for-word passages from speeches by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths,” intoned the new president. “Ghanaians have been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us.”
It echoed Clinton’s 1993 inauguration speech: “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. And Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. We must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who come before us.”
In another instance, Akufo-Addo said: “I ask you to be citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation.”
In his 2001 inaugural speech, Bush said: “I ask you to be citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”
The presidency’s communication director acknowledged the plagiarism and offered an apology.
“I unreservedly apologize for the non-acknowledgement of this quote to the original author. It was a complete oversight, and never deliberate,” Eugene Arhin said, according to the DPA German news agency.
The brouhaha over plagiarism has obscured other troubling issues. In a last minute action, the outgoing Parliament altered the terms of President John Mahama’s retirement benefits in order to allow him to retain the vice-presidential building where he now resides. “This is unacceptable to the broad masses of the Ghanaian people,” wrote Mauli Biaku in a petition at Change.org. “We urge the new NPP government to repeal this action by reversing this unwarranted giveaway of state property.”
Ex-president Mahama maintains that the terms of retirement were all agreed upon early in December. In addition to two “bungalows” (luxurious houses) for his home and his office, his pension was increased to 22,809 cedis ($5,309 US) from 15,972 cedis ($3,714 US), a nontaxable amount previously approved for presidents.
Mr. Mahama dismissed reports that Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was stranded, since his residence is being occupied by Mahama. He also dismissed critics who called his action to keep the house “illegal.”