Many Ghanaians have been reacting to recent comments by President Nana Akufo-Addo at a gathering where he was addressing chiefs, and people of areas in the Volta Region affected by recent dam spillage that has left about 12000 displaced.
The part of the speech by Nana Akufo-Addo which has been largely described by some as insensitive, and unnecessary is as follows:
“When I took the oath of office as president I took the oath of office as president of every single individual of Ghana, of all the peoples in Ghana, all districts, and whether they voted for me or not, once I have taken the oath of office, I am the president of all the people.
So Togbe, you and your elders, I want you to understand that when something like this happens and the government acts, the government is acting for Ghanaians, all Ghanaians.
I came here because Ghanaians are having difficulties and are suffering, and it is my responsibility to try and help. If it is the question of counting who votes for me and who doesn’t vote for me I shouldn’t be here because you don’t vote for me but that is not my concern.
I came here this afternoon to express my sympathies and to commiserate with all the people in the Mepe area, I chose Mepe because this is the area that has been most affected.”
The part of the speech that has ruffled many relate to the president referring to “votes” and reminding the victims that they do not vote for him and his party. The sentiments have generally been that it was not a time and place to do so, since victims are facing a humanitarian crisis and require more than a political talk.
Political analyst, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast, Dr. Jonathan Asante Otchere has particularly said the President’s gaffe is unfortunate and one unbefitting of a President.
“Is quite unfortunate that our President will make some kind of mockery of the devastating condition that the people in the Volta region are facing. I think that it is a costly joke and such gaffes of the President or statements, to me, do not appear to be presidential.
You have not even been around for some time and you come back, your main opponent has been there and as President of the country, what we expect you to say was to commiserate, with the people. That is not the time for a joke,” he said on TV3’s Ghana Tonight programme.
Many users on X(formerly Twitter) have expressed their opinions on the video since its inception, while many feel some part of the president’s speech is needless, others see nothing wrong with it, citing nuance and context in that regard.
Full context or not, it was highly unnecessary to highlight their voting patterns at a dire time like this. https://t.co/RxXDuFELHJ
— Sean (@SeanReezy25) October 16, 2023
A big "IF" starting the statement, with a clear "BUT THAT IS NOT MY CONCERN" ending it.
But woe unto thee that point it out. That it is an assumption first, which is then dismissed. You don't care. You are defending him.
But it is the mob on the street that is unreasonable 😂 pic.twitter.com/YugoFWwwr5
— Stoichkov (@akwasi_stoich) October 17, 2023
The Member of Parliament for the area, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has equally described Nana Akufo-Addo’s comments as unnecessary, and at the saying time calling for pragmatic actions for victims.
He is also demanding compensation for victims from the Volta River Authority (VRA), the agency responsible for the Akosombo and Kpong hydro-power supply plants.
“We are still waiting on the Volta River Authority to announce their non-negotiable plans for full compensation of all victims of their unprecedented spillage from the Akosombo and Kpong dams.
This large-scale devastation of biblical proportion was totally avoidable if the VRA management had put in place the right safety precautions and adequate community engagement. We demand nothing but justice!” he wrote on X.
The over-weeklong spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams has led to floods in many parts of the lower Volta basin (south, central, and North-Tongu districts), submerging homes totally, and leading to power cuts.