Jon Benjamin swoops in to stifile anti-Mahama bad press


Another attempt to divert attention from an event that should project the image of Ghana has been foiled. This time it took the intervention of British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin.

“The way the issue has been reported is a bit exaggerated and overstated. The gay issue came up but I can’t give you details, it was one of many issues that was discussed. President Mahama spoke in a large reception room which was full. From what I saw, everyone applauded President. I think we are spending much time on what was a non-issue at all,” he told Starr FM’s Morning Show Host, Nii Arday Clegg.

He probably was surprised at social media posts which went viral on Thursday night alleging that Scottish MPs had disgraced the Ghanaian President by boycotting his visit. It triggered sharp ridiculous responses accompanied by a picture of the President, his wife Lordina, Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Tetteh, Ambassador Victor Smith and few others among Ghana’s delegation.

I was particularly intrigued by the reactions as I read what people had posted on their face book pages and on other social media platforms. It was obvious a section of the public were just interested in taking advantage to embarrass the President by spreading falsehood while others sought to neutralize it.

Ato Kwamena Dadzie, a News Editor at Accra-based Joy FM posted this message, “I love this picture. And to think that he was so excited to be going to Scotland for ‘international recognition’ and that useless doctorate degree. I bet he can’t wait to rush back home”

Senyo Hosi, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors shared this, “I am not anti LGBT nor pro LGBT. I am a firm believer in equal and fair rights for all. I do not recall when an LGBT was last jailed for his or her sexual preference”

Aspiring MP for Tamale North, Alhaji Alhassan Suhuyini wrote, “It is only wizardry or witchcraft that will make one ridicule OUR PRESIDENT because some foreigners disrespected him for OUR COLLECTIVE stand against Gay Rights. I expect outrage. How dare them!!!”

And this was what Manasseh Azure AWUNI also of Multi Media splashed on his wall. ‘As we are angry at how our most important personality was treated outside, we should also learn from what has happened. The Gurune (Frafras) say if you drag your fat goat to Bolga market and price it cheaply, the buyers will act on the price tag of your goat and not its size”.

Comments that followed each of the comments was influenced by personal interests. On some platforms, the discussion was reduced to insults and it exposed how shallow minded we seem to be as a people.

I reflected on Manasseh’s post and juxtaposed that with the 59th Independence Day ‘Brochuregate’ and it was obvious we [Ghanaians] are fast losing our sense of pride, the need to protect our image as a people and Ghana as a sovereign state.

It first started as a brief story posted on the BBC world service website captioned, ‘Holyrood applause for Ghanaian President, John Mahama’, The report suggested Ghana’s President, was received ‘polite applause by MSPs despite controversy over our country’s human rights record’. It mentioned gay rights, violence and child abuse as key issues raised by Independent MSP John Finnie who claimed that President Mahama had given his “full support” to “discriminatory laws and relentless persecution” of LGBT people in Ghana.

And that the Scottish Human Rights Commission said it expected the Scottish government and parliament to “show leadership protecting and promoting international human rights standards.”

First of all, none of the issues raised reflects Ghana. There is no official sanction of a deliberate effort to persecute gays and lesbians. Majority have spoken against attempts by some Western nations and activists to push Ghana to accept them.

Even Queen Elizabeth II has openly said “Marriage should be for Man and woman only” and has declined to approve same sex marriage, so what is our beef?

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Why can’t we as a nation protest about such incidents? Why are some happy it happened? Was it hatred for John Mahama and the First Family? Those who sought to push a propaganda on social media may not understand the implication because no matter what, even if it was to score cheap political points, it exposed how parochial minded they were. The ‘Put Ghana First’ mantra was completely swallowed by politics, hatred, wish for failure and ignorance.

But I strongly believe President John Mahama is not the first to have encountered such protests on international trips.

World leaders like George Bush, Vladmir Putin and Tony Blair just to name a few have faced much more bigger ones elsewhere.

Manasseh Azure wrote again that “the president going to Scotland completely unaware that he could face such ‘embarrassment’ is yet another sign that he needs more than an honorary doctorate degree. A little homework would have alerted everyone in this picture that this trip was not worth it. But having allowed some other world leaders of little consequence to address our parliament, I guess ‪#‎IncompetentMahama felt he deserved some pay back”.

Sad again. Because his colleague earlier used the word ‘useless’ to describe this honorary degree. But since when did people conclude such honorary degrees are useless? I saw a reply by Eric Ahianyo a former News Editor of Metro TV asking him ‘when such awards were instituted’ and who the ‘past recipients were’.

At least in Ghana I remember all former Presidents and their wives, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, prominent Church leaders like Mensa Otabil, business tycoons, and the list goes on.

The trend of events gives me a strong feeling the incident, the initial reportage and how others tried to skew matters on social media was an agenda. To take away the purpose of the visit and what President Mahama said.

It probably was another attempt to embarrass the Presidency after the Independence Day brochure fiasco.

But it failed. British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin stopped them. Kudos Jon and all the well-meaning Ghanaians who tried to resist it.

But the Scotland incident is not peculiar. I have witnessed protests organized by Ghanaians in New York, Germany and few other countries President Mahama has recently visited. Those may be politically motivated but has anyone thought about the wrong signal it sends to the international community about Ghana?

I seize this opportunity to challenge each and every one of us to see Ghana first and remember when we sink our reputation, we shall struggle together to build it. Britons would never have forgiven Ghana if this had happened to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, neither will Germans, Americans, the Chinese or citizens of countries within our sub region.

Today I give thumbs up to Lawyer Ace Ankomah. He shared this message, “I feel offended at what some Scottish MPs did or sought to do yesterday. Some TV footage is making rounds on social media. That behavior was cheap, low, crass and not right. The President did not pass the laws on homosexuality. He has no power to repeal them. That power is for parliament. And for the information of these dummies, those laws were first written in official statues here by the UK, the country to which they, the Scots, technically and happily remain a colony”.

I rest my case. Let’s respect the Presidency, protect Ghana’s image and be proud of what we cherish. God bless our homeland Ghana!

-tv3network


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