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Opinions of Sunday, 25 November 2007

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Lessons From The President?s Accident

The accident last week accident which nearly took the precious life of the number one citizen of the country, the president His Excellency John Agyekum Kufour has great lessons for all of us. It tells us about the blatant disregard for traffic rules and regulations on the part of some drivers.

As a nation we are not usually proactive in doing things. For instance, it took an accident on the Accra-Tema Motorway in November 2000 that cost the lives of body guards of former president Jerry John Rawlings? body security for the unapproved entry routes on the motorway were sealed (don?t worry, they have all since re-opened and new ones too). It took the May 11 disaster in which more 140 people lost their lives at the Accra Sport Stadium before emergency evacuation procedures could be drawn for all sports stadia in the country. It took the crippling and debilitating effects of the 1998 energy crisis to establish the Takoradi Aboadze Thermal Plant and finally the 2006/7 energy crisis to get the work started on the Bui Dam Project.

Back to the accident involving the President, we ought to thank God Almighty for sparing the life of the president. As a Ghanaian I am happy that our president emerged from the accident unscathed. I think his Excellency has every right to join chorus and verse with R. Kelly to sing ?You Saved Me?.

Touch wood, but in the event that the president had perished in the accident, do we know how much it would have cost the state economically, socially and politically? Again, I say let us be thankful that our president is alive. When President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated on November 1963, the New York Stock Exchange and Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed. The accident should serve as a clarion for those who have been entrusted with the task of presidential security seriously. Sometimes out of limited insight we hear people saying that the number of vehicles in the presidential convoy is too many. I could have spared time to debate with such people if we were living in Cuba or Soviet Union in the 1960?s. Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of responsibility. All Ghanaians are responsible citizens, but some must be more responsible than others by virtue of their public or their private position, their role in the family or community, their prospects for the future. May be it appears that in this country we have taken things for granted and likewise the president?s security. The first question is: why was it that there was no dispatch rider to block the adjoining road that led to the 37 Military Hospital dual carriage road? If the driver of the Mercedes Benz who caused the accident had explosives in the car (as is a daily occurrence in Iraq or Pakistan) then he would have succeeded in taking the life of the president. Alas!

Secondly, if there was an intention to take the president?s life it could have happened as bystanders graciously decided to get the president from the overturned car they could have done so. The security detail to me did not do well in allowing people to get to the scene of the accident. First if there was anything that could have helped in the investigating, getting people coming to accident scene could have destroyed on-site evidence. Secondly, in getting the president from the car someone could have thrust a knife or gun to the president. Or if the Benz contained some explosives which failed to detonate a fellow conspirator could have gone to pick it from the Benz leading to interference with crucial material evidence. The bystanders who went there have not been trained to get people out from such a situation. Postmortem reports inform us that most of the people who die in lorry accident or accidents are as results of the way bystanders who have no formal training in handling casualties in motor accident handle some of the injured. I am not saying that people should not give assistance like that when the needs happens but better still, there should be ready professional help when these happen.

I do understand that the security detail had a tough time in controlling the situation at the site of the incident. Do we know the one who killed Oswald Lee Harvey-the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy? It as Jack Rugby who killed him whist the assassin was standing between the crowd of police officers and reporters. Someone could have taken advantage of the ?accident scene disorder? and further perpetrated chaos.

LESSONS At least now, there is no doubt about the need for the presidential palace. There are still some people who still see the presidential palace under construction as a waste of public funds. I think they need to re-think this stance. One of the theories of classical approaches to management by the Gilbreths? is that the reduction of movement at job sites increases productivity. In the UK the Prime Minister Gordon Brown lives and works at the same at the Number 10 Downing Street. Like in the US the President has the White House as the office and official residence. This accident also tells us the need for rescue or reinforcement helicopter to keep track of the presidential convoy ? just in case there is an emergency which requires medical evacuation or otherwise. If the accident had happened in any rugged and remote part of the country precluding quick access, how would we have taken the president out from the scene of the accident?

Another lesson here is that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) should get helicopter ambulances ready on stand by to air lift accident victims on major highways. I think we need some for the Ghana 2008 Tournament. But this is Ghana, will anybody listen, let alone take action?

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance and speech writer and the president of Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: e-mail; appiahkusiy2k@yahoo.com,

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.