I am really not surprised to learn that Prof. Richard Amoako-Baah, the retired Chairman of the History and Political Science Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, is having quite a difficult time gaining access to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, although Prof. Amoako-Baah also informs his audience that he has met with First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and that the latter both assured and encouraged the staunch and active member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) that, indeed, he could readily gain access to Nana Akufo-Addo (See “Akufo-Addo Says I Should See Him But ‘Powerful’ Gatekeepers Won’t Allow Me – Amoako-Baah” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 12/11/19).
Now, I readily confess upfront that I know little to absolutely nothing about the relationship between the plaintiff, who once ran for the national chairmanship of the NPP – then in opposition, if memory serves me accurately – but I am also almost certain that his apparent frustration from gaining personal access to the President may very well be tinged with some unspoken but palpable modicum of vindictiveness, especially since it well appears that this very public expression of frustration comes on the heels of Prof. Amoako-Baah’s direct contacts with all the bigwigs and the relevant bureaucrats in the presidential chain of command. It also goes without saying that the President is extremely busy even on what may be aptly termed as “very slow-traffic days.” For instance, when I finally got the chance to meet him in his office on August 1, 2018, when I was last in Ghana, it was very close to midnight, although my appointment on that day had been scheduled for sometime/somewhere around 8 pm. But I was still not the least bit perturbed because it goes without saying that the highly sensitive nature and the fraught daily schedule of the most powerful democratically elected official of the land, perforce and naturally, makes access to the President quite understandably difficult.
But, of course, it equally goes without saying that Prof. Amoako-Baah is no ordinary Ghanaian and no ordinary member of the New Patriotic Party. In any case, the protocol point person for my prescheduled visit to Nana Akufo-Addo on August 1, 2018, he shall remain anonymous, kept his cellphone off and out of service for most of the day, well after my appointment with the President had been tentatively firmed up and only needed a final confirmation. I perfectly understood the situation because my scheduled visit coincided with the very day on which Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa, the current Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, was being officially inducted into her present portfolio at Jubilee House. Then also, the newly elected National Executives of the New Patriotic Party, who had just been elected by a party congress in Koforidua, the Eastern Regional Capital, were also being sworn in that same evening at The Presidency. As well, earlier that same day, the President had traveled to the sprawling campus of the nation’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana, Legon, to conduct what turned out to be an elaborate induction ceremony during which a new Chancellor was named to replace the recently deceased Mr. Kofi Annan, Ghana’s sole Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization (UN). I must quickly add that Mr. Annan was alive at the time.
Now, my quite well-informed suspicion here is that the “gatekeepers” at the Presidency have listened to what the plaintiff has to relay to the President, even as Prof. Amoako-Baah himself hints at the same in one of the news articles that I read pertaining to his plaint, and decided, for whatever it may be worth, that the contents of the message that Prof. Amoako-Baah says that he wants to deliver to Nana Akufo-Addo may be best treated as a non-priority issue, which, by the way, is also part of the job description of the Presidential Chief-of-Staff and her deputies, as public relations filters for the “Giant Dwarf.” Which, in effect, makes it equally difficult to either impugn the professional judgment of the President’s Chief-of-Staff or that of Nana Frema Opare’s two young but quite savvy deputies. Still, it was also inexcusably offensive for Prof. Amoako-Baah to have so cavalierly presumed to liken the Akufo-Addo presidential staffers to the patent circus acts that were the Mahama presidential operatives, for the most part.
The stark fact of the matter is that the Mahama Presidency had absolutely no comparative coequal with that of the latter’s successor. In other words, Prof. Amoako-Baah trivializes or frivols with the significance of his purpose for seeking urgent audience with Nana Akufo-Addo by drawing the preceding facile and gratuitous comparison between his case and that of the widely alleged Mahama freeze of Mr. Alban SK Bagbin, the longest-serving NDC parliamentarian, out of the former’s presidency (See also, “Asenso Boakye Clarifies His Meeting with Amoako-Baah” Peacefmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 12/12/19).
Ultimately, what can be said about the clearly byzantine bureaucratic chain-of-command at the Akufo-Addo Presidency is that it could definitely do with quite a good dosage of some finetuning, if it is to function more efficiently than it presently appears to be doing. For, it goes without saying that absolutely no human institution or establishment is picture perfect or thoroughly devoid of any kinks or creases. There is always room for improvement. And that also means that Prof. Amoako-Baah deserves to be afforded democratic access and a hearing by the President, even if it is just for the temporal space of five minutes. By all means, in this particular instance, the President’s Chiefs-of-Staff should let Nana Akufo-Addo himself decide the value, worth and weight of whatever message Prof. Amoako-Baah may be poised to delivering. The unsavory practice of routinely alienating staunch members and supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party by some of the key operatives of this otherwise most efficient and progressive governance machine ought to be the exception, not the rule.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
December 12, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]