People no longer respect the presidency – Sam George

Presidential staffer, Sam George is not a happy man. He is in pain because, “people no longer respect the presidency.”

This state of affairs, according to him, “is completely unacceptable.”

“I think there is so much disrespect in our society; so much disrespect especially for the highest office of the land;…We cannot [live in] a country where anybody at all can just wake up and pass whatever comment about the office of the president or the presidency and justify it,” he told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host Kojo Yankson on Monday.

Sam George was speaking on recent debates over the propriety of comments made by some celebrities in expressing their frustrations about the power crisis being endured by Ghanaians.

The presidential staffer, who himself has had to apologise severally in the past for comments deemed distasteful and rude, said he had to unlearn what in Ghanaian terms appears abrasive posturing which he acquired growing up in Nigeria.

He said arguments by Lydia Forson – whose open letter to the president ruffled a lot of feathers – that she didn’t insult the president are untenable.

He said if Lydia Forson’s argument is stretched, then comments by a former presidential staffer, Alhaji Halidu Haruna, likening the actress and fellow Yonne Nelson, to prostitutes, are equally not an insult.

“If we are asking that we should have respect for citizens, citizens must also have respect for authority. As a people we need to come to that place where we are more tolerant in our discourse, more tolerant in our discussion, in our choice of words,” he stressed.

Sam George does not believe the refrain that public office holders are paid with taxpayers’ money and, therefore, can be subjected to wanton criticism is a particularly bright argument.

“It is [common] to hear people say ‘we pay you with our taxes and so we can say whatever we want to say. I mean who doesn’t pay taxes? Even those who get paid with the taxes…those taxes are not exempt our taxes,” he asserted.

Commenting on a May 16 #dumsormuststop vigil being organized by some celebrities, Sam George said government had no interest in frustrating the event.

The organisers have had a few challenges mainly regarding venue for the vigil.

Originally, they announced the University of Ghana as the venue for the event but the university’s authorities issued a statement saying they were not hosting it there, compelling the celebrities to look for an alternative.

They chose On-The-Run near the University, but managers of Total Ghana followed the example of the University and refused to host it.

At the weekend, some Ga chiefs petitioned the police to stop the vigil, arguing it may violate their ban on drumming and noise-making.

Government played no role in these developments, Sam George insisted.

“They are free to have their vigil if they properly organise it, nobody is going to stop them, in fact, government is not interested in stopping them,” he said.

Sam George said he has faith in the ability of the president to deal with the power crisis.

“Whether you like president Mahama or yes, there are people who do love him, there are people who do believe in him. I trust President Mahama to fix the problem,” he stated.

He said the president was given a four-year mandate to fix the country’s problems and he – who voted for the president in 2012 – is convinced that by the end of the four years, “he would have fixed the problems I asked him to fix.”

Even though some people might have lost faith in the president, Sam George said, “the president still has his supporters; the president still has people who believe in him and so long as people believe in the president and people support him, they will not sit down and allow his personality [to be] dragged in the mud by people who, unfortunately, may be misguided or miseducated.

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