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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Columnist: Al-Hassan, Osumanu

The Same People

The accident involving the President?s convoy last year didn?t fail to generate a whole lot of interesting debates and comments, including those who believed it was an assassination plot by the President?s enemies, or perhaps political opponents?

The accident also generated debate over the neck-breaking speed at which the presidential convoy travels. One is compelled to wonder whether the President is so much in a hurry or just that the drivers of the convoy enjoy unleashing all the horse-powers of the vehicles they are driving.

Those who are familiar with some of the routes that the President takes on his way to the castle or home have no doubt witnessed how drivers, especially commercial drivers scuttle for space to park whenever the police siren blared to announce that the President of the Republic is on his way.

If we cast our minds back, perhaps not in the too distance past, we will still recollect government official convoys being involved in fatal accidents. Whenever these accidents occur, the debate over whether the speed at which these convoys travel is appropriate rises up.

If a convoy is on a long journey and happens to be on an empty and quite road in the countryside, that should be alright but in the middle of the city and on populated streets, the speed limit should be less than what we are witnessing at the moment. Shouldn?t these cars adhere to the speed limit where there are any? Or course, there may be hundreds of reasons why the Presidents convoy should speed, however, whatever the reasons are, they are not worth losing the life of any person, and not in the least that of the President.

Surprisingly, before President Kufuor?s infamous car crash, we witnessed a number of accidents involving convoys of New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidates, some of which were fatal. For instance, two people reportedly died in an accident involving presidential aspirant and former Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyeremanten.

Not long before that accident, the Vice President, Aliu Mahama?s convoy was also involved in an accident during which one of his bodyguards died. Comments that followed this accident forced the vice-president to go to court after some newspaper publications accused him of sacrificing his bodyguard for his presidential ambitions.

Going back to the question I posed earlier, does the president?s convoy needs to travel at the speed it does for a journey of only about three or four miles from his residence to the castle? Certainly not if you ask me, because traffic will make way for the convoy anyway, so why that speed?

I have heard analysis and comments on the president?s accident which I find very interesting. The first was why the president?s convoy has to speed, which in the opinion of these analysts or commentators, is to prevent assassins from getting at him.

This explanation set me thinking, who wants to murder President Kufuor? Or is the ghost of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah haunting our presidential convoys, after all, he was the only Ghanaian president who experienced assassination plots that were witnessed by more than two persons.

I imagined that if there were any assassins after JAK?s blood, the accident would have offered them the perfect opportunity.

"These assassins", since nobody really know who they are and what they look like, every citizen walking the streets becomes a potential assassin, so the speeding convoy is simply trying to avoid these assassins, right?

How easy could it had been for any would-be assassins to deliberately cross into the path of the speeding presidential convoy to deliberately cause an accident, because at that neck-breaking speed the likelihood of an accident should be the most effective weapon to pop one in the president.

We were all relieved and thankful that the accident did not claim any lives. It, however, painted a vivid picture of how the speed of the presidential convoy could be used to easily kill any person driving in it.

The accident also brought out questions on the manner the dispatch or motorcycle riders ride ahead of the president?s convoy. Dispatch riders performing antics ahead of the President?s car, especially during occasions, is permissible in my opinion, after all people who usually line the streets to cheer and wave at the passing convoy need to be given some form of entertainment.

However, it appears as if President Kufuor?s riders compete with each other in order to show who amongst them has the best antics, because at even quite places like the road from the liberation circle to the Osu Cemetery traffic light, these dispatch riders while signaling vehicles to make way for the President also find time off their duties and alertness to the surrounding environment to perform antics for non-existing audience.

Was it therefore strange that barely a week or so after the president?s accident one of his dispatch riders reportedly grazed the road when he lost control? I wonder whether he was not displaying his antics!

These riders should have their fan when occasion demands it but they must also know that when duty calls, they should stick to the job and leave the fan for another time.

After that accident President Kufuor acknowledged that people (perhaps the very same people his convoy was speeding away from because they could possible be assassins) are the ?very same? people who turned the vehicle unto its wheels and helped him out.

Before he became president, Mr. J.A. Kufuor would not miss an opportunity to interact with the citizenry and tell them what he would do for them when he becomes the President. After becoming president, Mr. Kufuor believes the very citizenry he was running after when he needed their thumb prints have become assassins wanting to take his life?

Is this not the same scenario we are witnessing when Ghanaians hit the streets to demonstrate against the ruling government to better their lots because there is too much suffering?

The very same people that came out in their numbers to match with the NPP on the "Ku me preko" demonstration have suddenly become such nuisance that their mere presence on the street is a threat to national security?

Let us visit what happened at Tamale for a minute. The security agencies refused to provide protection to the demonstrators because allegedly they did not have enough men to put up, for what in their opinion is a futile venture.

Regardless of that, the demonstration went ahead albeit peacefully until some of the security agencies appeared on the scene and tried to disperse off the demonstrators by causing major chaos with an army helicopter.

It was surprising that there were not enough officers and logistics to accompany the demonstration but hours later, a helicopter could be flown from miles away to attempt to cause disorder in ?Tamale?, a place known and accepted to be very volatile, for which the police allegedly attempted to halt the demonstration in the first place?

Has the NPP government forgotten overnight that these were the same people who hit the street together with them when the current ruling party was in opposition?

Our politicians forget too soon that people they stood shoulder to shoulder with to oppose another government are the very same people who would also stand against them when their government fails to perform to expectation.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is today riding high on the support of the masses as if there was never a time when it did everything possible to prevent these same people from demonstrating against its government. Of course the masses have chosen to forget what they suffered under the previous government in order to concentrate on the government in power. I hope years from today these same people will not become nuisance when they take to the street to protest against an NDC government.



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