The decision by state officials to label a seat for former President John Mahama at Ghana’s 63rd Independence Day celebration at the Kumasi Sports Stadium has been questioned by the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The party claimed that was deliberately done by the State Protocol with a possible connivance of some New Patriotic Party (NPP) officials, to portray Mahama, who is seeking to regain power in the 2020 presidential election, as unpatriotic person.
Mahama has come under criticism for not attending the national event in Kumasi on Friday and the 2020 State of the Nation Address by Nana Akufo-Addo last month.
Some critics, particularly from the NPP, argue his failure to show up at the independence day parade smacks of disrespect for the Asante people, a claim the NDC has rejected and described as unfortunate.
Appearing on TV3 news analysis show, The Key Points on Saturday, Communications member of the NDC, Brogya Genfi said it was unfortunate that the State Protocol would conduct itself in the manner it did with the former President.
He admitted that although Mahama was duly invited to attend the programme, he indicated to the State Protocol that he would not be able to attend the event because he was going to be out of town on March 6.
“And so we were all surprised when they labeled a chair in his name and captured it when the State knew he was not going to be there,” Mr Genfi stated.
He added: “That’s very unfortunate that the state protocol of our nation will, maybe in connivance with some party officials, will do something to try to tarnish the image of the former president”.
He did not understand why the State Protocol will do something like especially when former President John Rawlings who was also absent at the event, was not given a labeled chair.
“Former president Rawlings was not there, I didn’t see his empty chair labeled and a picture taken… I’m telling you on authority that the state knew former president Mahama was never going to be at the event. So why do you provide a seat for him, put a tag [of] his name on it and then take a picture of it and start to troll him on social media. It is very, very unfortunate,” Mr Genfi protested.
Also, he has rejected claims that the National Democratic Congress boycotted anniversary parade, saying “there were many members of parliament from the minority side at the event. The regional executives of the NDC were highly represented by the Regional chairman and other executives so we didn’t boycott the event”.
Commenting on the matter, a senior lecturer at the University of Education in Winneba, Dr Ahmed Jinapor raised concern about the level politics introduced into the celebration over the years.
“I think generally, the way it is organised and done looks overly political,” he stated.
Though he also raised concerned about the chair given to Johm Mahama as against what was assigned to former President John Kufuor, he said that was not to say the latter got preferential treatment.
“Look at the chair that President Kufuor was sitting on, look at the chair that is labeled Mahama and look at the other chair, you can see that it is not the same,” he said.