The absence of Ex-President John Mahama from Ghana’s 63rd Independence Day celebration at the Kumasi Sports Stadium and the circulation of an empty chair with his name embossed on it to ridicule him has taken away the beauty and shine the event would have brought.
But in the end, neither the messages of President Akufo-Addo nor his Special Guest of Honour, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, are on the lips of Ghanaians and even the media, except the absence of Mr. Mahama, who is going into a third contest for the Presidency with Akufo-Addo, after their 2012 and 2016 elections which they each won.
Since Friday, when the national event took place in the Ashanti region for the first time, all discussions have been about ex-President Mahama and not the beauty of the ceremony which saw students, traders, military, police and other state security agencies, as well as professional bodies, marching in a full-to-capacity stadium under the scorching sun.
The absence of the former President, sparked mixed reaction with some largely members of the NPP, accusing him of not showing statesmanship, while others in his party the National Democratic Congress (NDC), insist he was right in not attending because he had not been accorded the needed respect by both the President and his appointees.
Some cited the unfriendly handshake from President Akufo-Addo to his predecessor at the Kofi Annan Forum sometime last year, insisting things were not right.
It is not exactly clear what caused the failure of the former President from attending the function. But Photos of an empty seat labeled with the name John Dramani Mahama flooded social media amidst suggestions he deliberately refused to attend.
The picture in circulation had former President John D. Mahama, printed on a chair next ex-President, John Agyekum Kufuor. The chair had the event brochure on it.
While some people looked straight into the camera used to take the picture of the empty chair with some wearing a smile, ex-President Kufour, appeared to be showing his disapproval, as he had his head bowed. The chair was later occupied by the National Chairman of the NPP, Freddie Blay.
Interestingly, although Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, was not a ceremony, the chair was seen of him labeled, empty and with brochure like that meant for Mr. Mahama, suggesting the label and picture was meant to embarrass him.
But a former Director of Communications at the Presidency under the erstwhile Mahama administration, Stan Dogbe, has intimated that the presence of former President Mahama at functions with President Akufo-Addo often irritates the latter.
Stan Dogbe, the close working staff of the former President, wondered why members of the governing NPP, appear to be showing inordinate interest in the absence of Mr. Mahama from the 63rd Independence Anniversary parade
However, Mr. Dogbe, believes the talk about the absence of his boss is selective and mischievous.
“It is interesting how Brand #JohnMahama has completely overshadowed the 63rd Independence message of the President to the people of Ghana. Or there was no message, judging from the zeal with which social media hounds of the government and some news outlets chose to focus on the publication of a supposed empty seat of the former president at the Kumasi event.
Some government workers, including a media officer at the Presidency, Charles NiiTeiko Tagoe, and supporters of the ruling party, have tagged me in their posts of the supposed empty chair. Truly, I am still trying to understand what their concern or interests are, because of their boss, Nana Akufo-Addo, does not like the idea of #John Mahama’s presence at events and Programmes he’s also at” Stan Dogbe wrote on Facebook.
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