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Defending plagiarism, an open letter to the NPP

President Nana Akufo- Addo
President Nana Akufo- Addo

Dear NPP supporters, sympathizers, members and soon-to-be appointees…the day you’ve been waiting for has arrived. After 8 long years of being a formidable opposition, God and Ghanaians finally heard your call. Congratulations.

The inauguration of the President was beautiful. I especially loved the speech by H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, and I pray you remember his solemn pledge to protect the public purse.

The speech itself had everything you would expect from the accomplished lawyer and statesman. All the initial reviews I saw were positive. After all, Nana Addo gave us a firm indication during the campaign that when it comes to speeches, he’s one of the best there is.

So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up after a quick nap on Saturday, January 7, to find the world telling me that the esteemed orator had quoted former US Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton verbatim without acknowledging them.

I mean, how?

After all the heightened expectations for the incoming government and the inauguration day, the plagiarism was like pouring sand in my delicious gari.

As discussion around the blunder played out, I latched on to a statement made by my senior journalist, that the Communications team of the President can cure the mischief by a reasonable reaction, which in this case will mean an apology, withdrawal and correction in the online publication of the speech.

I must admit that I doubted this will happen. I mean, this is Ghana politics for you. Even people caught on tape making the most unfortunate statements can go scot free and be celebrated by their party rank and file.

My fellow Technocrat and engineer turned communicator, Eugene Arhin (who runs the Communications Bureau at the Flagstaff House), however proved me wrong by issuing an apology within hours of the gaffe.

The man immediately earned my respect because honestly speaking, he didn’t need to apologise.

All he needed to do was to pretend it never happened and leave the party rank and to file to defend it as they are known for.

Worst case scenario, the issue dies a natural death after next big story comes up. But Mr Arhin bit the bullet and took the blame, even though I suspect he didn’t write the speech.

Classic move, you will go places sir.

Now to the many Ghanaians out there who have decided to bear Mr. Arhin’s cross when he has obviously not contracted you, I have a bone to pick with you.

Instead of you people to accept the wrong and echo the apology, you have begun defending like John Mensah in his prime. Now I normally have no qualms with a healthy political debate, but I think the one you are stoking is needless.

This is why.

First of all, the man you were trying to defend has already accepted his wrong. Your arguments remind me of a Ugandan lawyer who recently sued the Jewish people for unlawfully killing Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, when the man accepted the punishment with no complaints.

Mr. Arhin says he made an oversight, he has shown readiness to endure the teasing and blame for the wrongdoing, and you are here trying to explain the blunder.
Why?

Secondly, this government is still in its honeymoon phase.

Most new governments have a period where not much is expected from them because they are considered as warming up to their roles.

During this period, the euphoria from the electoral victory is still high and so it’s easy to brush such issues under the carpet.

I have followed most of the critique on social media particularly, and it seems to lack the venom often directed at a non performing government, which has frustrated citizens with similar lapses on many previous occasions, and in many different sectors.

After all, even the law courts are mild on first time offender.

Thirdly, the standards the NPP set for itself in opposition, requires them to be extra careful when dealing with the sensibility of the average Ghanaian.
This is a party that boasted about having competent men and women who will deliver quality leadership, sufficient to change the standards of living of the people of Ghana.

They also bemoaned the impunity and insults often used by then government communicators and labelled them as power drunk.
After pointing out the mistakes of now opposition NDC, the Elephant fraternity was quick to assure Ghanaians that they will do much better.

Is this the better we were promised?

So let’s take another look at this defence you put up.

First you argue that the quotation from the GW Bush speech is not plagiarism because it was initially made by Woodrow Wilson over 70 years ago, and plagiarism does not apply when the 70-year period has elapsed.

This is nauseating. In Ghana’s copyright law, Woodrow Wilson has a moral right to be acknowledged by President Akufo-Addo. The 70-year rule applies to his economic right, which will not even be necessary in this case because H.E. is not gaining a profit from the quotation. And even if it had been a correct argument, do you think the 15 heads of state sitting there care about Ghana’s copyright law?

Did you really think Ghanaians will accept this half-baked attempt at a defence?

You then tried to equalise by citing the mistakes made by the Mahama administration, particularly during the ‘Brochuregate’ scandal on Independence Day. This is saddening. Is this not the same government which was labelled incompetent? Why use their mistakes to justify this one? If citing previous examples makes this error less serious, why didn’t Ghanaians listen to the then NDC government when they said the Kufour era also had dumsor? Please, this culture of equalisation is becoming outmoded as Ghanaians are becoming more aware oh. Yooooo…

Now to my brothers and sisters in the NPP, I know it hurts to see such a beautiful ceremony marred by what seems like a minor blunder.
Seeing your NDC counterparts gleefully chewing on this bone doesn’t help matters either.

But going into defence mode will not help your case. It only extends this debate and leaves a longer impression in the minds of Ghanaians about your party.
I think it will profit you better if you spent your time hailing Eugene Arhin’s quick response.

My humble advice is for you to curb your enthusiasm and forget about trying to justify it.

In a few days, Ghanaians will find something new to talk about and the trolling will cease.

For the sake of God, Ghana and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, let it go.

Sincerely yours,

A citizen, who is not a subject.

By: Daniel Dadzie