Ghana President Akufo-Addo caught in plagiarism scandal

Photo credit: BBC News
Photo credit: BBC News

New Ghanaian president, Nana Akufo-Addo, has begun his administration on a rather embarrassing note after being caught plagiarising former American presidents during his inaugural speech on Saturday.

Mr. Akufo-Addo, 72, was sworn in alongside his Vice-President, Mahamudu Bawumia, at the Independence Square in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, promising not to “let the people of Ghana down”.

Vigilant citizens quickly spotted stark similarities in excerpts of his speech and those delivered by two ex-presidents of the United States decades ago.

The two American presidents, Bill Clinton and George Bush, delivered their inaugural speeches in 1993 and 2001, respectively.

Mr. Akufo-Addo first lifted a portion of Mr. Bush’s January 20, 2001 speech where he said: “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”

The new Ghanaian president said: “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character,” without attribution.

Similarly, he also used quotes from Mr. Clinton’s speech delivered on January, 20, 1993.

“Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us,” Mr. Clinton said at the time.

Mr. Akufo-Addo then carefully tweaked the speech to read: “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us.”

A composite video showing how Messrs. Bush and Clinton read their respective speeches and how Mr. Akufo-Addo plagiarised it had since gone viral on the Internet, marking the latest embarrassment for West African leaders.

Mr. Akufo-Addo’s communications director, Eugene Arhin, had since apologised for the speech, describing it as “complete oversight and never deliberate.”

“I unreservedly apologise for the non-acknowledgement of this quote to the original author,” Mr. Arhin added.

The scandal came five months after President Muhammadu Buhari apologised for plagiarising President Barack Obama’s 2008 inaugural speech.

Mr. Buhari, while launching the “Change Begins with Me” campaign to rein in “immoral” behaviours of Nigerians, said: “We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long. Let us summon a new spirit of responsibility, spirit of service, of patriotism and sacrifice. Let us all resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but one another.”

A THISDAY Newspapers columnist, Adeola Akinremi, quickly identified instances of plagiarism of Mr. Obama’s speech in which he said: “Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. “Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.”

Following heavy backlash from Nigerians, Mr. Buhari said an “overzealous” official responsible for the speech will be sanctioned, but there’s no evidence that this was ever done.


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  • SALONS in Sambissa Forest

    Buhari should release the Chibok girls, and the the world be dazzled as it learns of the grand conspiracy and deception relating to the kidnapping of the girls. How possible is it that 200 girls were in the forest with no water, electricity and medical assistance and whenever they are released their skin is free of insect and mosquito bites? EVEN THEIR HAIR IS CAREFULLY STYLED……………….Is the Nigerian govt saying that Boko haram terrorists have hair dressing salons in the forest? With no electricty? Haba! 200 million Mumus! Why are Nigerians quiet?

  • Otile

    This is scandalous. They shouldn’t have allowed Buhari to attend Nana’s inauguration. Buhari did the (Change Begins With Me) plagiarism and got away with it, now Nana followed suit.

    • K_Kenechukwu

      Goat like you l am sure you are one of those who managed to pass your school exams bcos you always copied from your mates. You should have gone to ghana and prevented Buhari from attending the inauguration na mumu.

      • Otile

        Omo Odua what is your point?

  • Sir Louis

    It pays to be original. These cases of plagiarism are too much. Its time our people start to learn to think and make do with their thoughts.

  • Mind your business

    Copyright laws allow people to use other persons work 70 year after their death without quoting them.
    The statement was first used by Woodrow Wilson who died over 70year now. Bush used it in 2001 without crediting him, so it is not wrong for president NANA to use without a credit . by law it is not plagiarism. According to the Copyright Law Woodrow can’t be credited since he died over 70years ago. Like it’s stated earlier Bush didn’t acknowledge him and he isn’t the originator.

    • Otile

      So because some one is dead you can help yourself with his property with no regard to him or his kin. This is the mind of a thief.