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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