The speech that sparked an uproar!

Wed, 14 Aug 2013 Source: Adjei-Kyeremeh, Nathanael

Ghana is such a lovely country; there is hardly a week that passes without an incident. The stinking corruption at GYEEDA and the P.V Obeng committee still hasn't died. In fact we don’t expect it to die soon considering the extent of corruption that the report uncovered. But something we can be sure of is that like the Woyome scandal, this too shall die a natural death.

So what was the interesting incident?

I saw on Facebook a video of the Deputy Minister of communications, Miss Victoria Hammah. The video captured her addressing a group on cybercrime in Ghana and government’s approach to tackle it. Then in the middle of the speech, with frustration written over her face, she paused and asked “where is my edited speech?” She went on to explain how she painstakingly edited a speech and her aides failed to give her that speech but rather the unedited one.

Many have called this gaffe a public speaking disaster whilst some have downplayed the act, commending her for such an honest admission and have called to attention to terrible work some speechwriters in the public service do.

Some even have tried to make it a call by chauvinists against a very hardworking young woman.

I have pondered over these few questions 1. Who wrote the original speech 2. Where really is her edited speech 3. How was she prepped on such an important issue 4. How are ministers coached on the art of public speaking? 5. What happens to ultimate responsibility?

It goes without saying that the original speech was drafted by somebody else. What effective aides would have done was to go over the speech with her and factor in her inputs.

After such is done, the speech should be edited retyped and the minister reviews again. From my experience with several secretaries you always have to be sure that corrections are made where you want them to be.

Whilst waiting to deliver the speech she could have gone over it, if not everything, where the major corrections were made.

But if none of these were done, she could have gone over to read the speech without the drama. A good public speaker would have proceeded with the speech extempore, the audience would have noted that, but she would have earned the respect of many.

That is where I side with those who think the Deputy Minister acted quite jejunely.

But alas she has realized that her actions were unfortunate, and admits she should have guarded her reaction. (See myjoyonline.com). She however thinks the issue has been extremely sensationalized and employed as a “pretext to re-enforce prevailing prejudice on my character and capabilities to the Ghanaian public”.

She however assures her fans and Ghanaians that she will remain focused because she is not “alien to this development which is deeply rooted in chauvinist, misogynic, ageist and similar reactionary tendencies since entering public life.”

For me I have always thought that she would have been better placed at a more non-technical ministerial position than where she is now. I still stand by that. I don’t think this recent gaffe has influenced my position. I don’t think this incident should warrant a sack but it should tell appointing authorities that we may need her somewhere else.

Ghana is seventh in the world and second in Africa as far as cybercrime is concerned. This has a potential negative influence on business. It is therefore unfortunate that a speech to assure the Ghanaian and the global community of Government’s resolve to end cybercrime ended this way. Unfortunately we didn’t even get to know what the assurances were, very unsurprisingly the media decided to just focus on the gaffe.

I know she will not be sacked, I know we will forget about this very soon. But I think she has learnt her lessons, I pray investigations will be conducted and whoever deliberately put the young Deputy Minister into this quandary be punished. It is a lesson for all who speak in public.

©Dr Nathanael Adjei-Kyeremeh.

Columnist: Adjei-Kyeremeh, Nathanael