As I was going about my usual daily activities of wandering around looking for someone’s issue to poke my nose into, I heard of some stories from Opanyin Kwaku Dompe’s radio while I was passing behind his window this morning. Well, as expected, I eavesdropped on the discussion that ensued between Opanyin and his Son, who has just returned from the city, after they had listened to the issue of missing cars.
The issue concerned a purported revelation by the government that the erstwhile administration has stolen, appropriated, converted, taken, amassed, thieved…..in fact, used and refused to return more than two hundred cars from the Presidency. In other words, the government cannot locate over two hundred cars at the Presidency. When I heard this, two things amazed me; firstly, what at all are such numbers of cars at the Presidency being used for? A transport business? Secondly, this is Ghana, not a nearby African country where a whole flight can get lost in an airport; thus cars do not evaporate. After all in this village, we spend nights looking for our strayed ‘newcomer’ livestock who do not have animus rivertendi.
I have listened to experts, analysts, commentators, journalists and lay‘uninitiated’ people like me talk to the issue. Whilst some are of the view that the past government intentionally took these cars, others are of the view that the current government is only using this as an excuse to buy new fleets of cars. My take is that, the government does not need to create such an atmosphere if indeed it wants to buy new cars. Infact, as a matter of necessity, the president must buy new cars.
It does happen, of course not openly, that automobile companies sometimes support or align themselves with the campaigns of political parties so that when these parties come to power they will purchase, at least, greater percentage of their cars from such an automobile companies. Well, without any evidence, we know that the Kufuor administration was very comfortable with Chrysler cars and the erstwhile administration was also comfortable with Toyota cars. Beyond this seemingly potent speculation, I am of the opinion that getting to use new cars as a President is actually a matter of urgency.
Central to governance is security. Technological advancement has made security matters extremely complex. Nowadays, pens, erasers, buttons, etc, are more than what we know them to be. There is always the greatest potentiality of security breach at anytime. I conceive that the vulnerable state of everyone is not only when we are asleep, but also when we are in a car which is on top speed. How comfortable will anyone be if we are to use the exact cars our opponents who vilified us, vowed with every drop of blood and indeed did all they could to make sure wedo not get to where we have gotten to, used? Will we not need clear mind, comfort and confidence of safety to work when we are occupying the position that we have fought for and for which our opponent had to be relieved of it with enormous pain? We need to practice some empathy here and examine ourselves in that situation in all sincerity, what will be our decision?
The use of new cars by the President goes beyond luxury to a necessity. Let me ask this question, should the President change, if there is, the ‘state mattress’ used by the former President? We will say Yes, right? We may have no problem with that because mattresses are not expensive as V8 cars. Perfect, but the principle is the same. The government can auction some of the existing cars (with value for money), use the money to purchase new ones exclusive for the President’s own use. Buying brand new cars does not mean there should be a fleet of new cars, but the ones to be used for the protection of and the use by the President should not be more than 20 in number. If we need to auction 100 old cars to buy 20 new ones, so be it. Ghana does not need such number of cars as we are witnessing. Indeed, any state that has as much as over 400 cars at its Presidency is definitely not a serious one. As a way of reducing this, the government should re-think what to do with some of the cars available and use the money to get new oneswhich are far lesser in number.
I am of the impression that president Akufo-Addo’s use of the 2007 car is not because there is no car at the Presidency to be used. The fact is that, it might not be a wise security decision for the President to just sit in any car and move around with it. What is if has been massively bugged? What if the exclusive cars for the President have been tempered with? The pivotal issue for me here is safety, security, and trust. If there is any agency that needs it, then it is the presidency. Nobody, no matter who you are, can impose undoubted trust in their opponents especially when the profession is politics. Afterall, the United States v. Nixon is a good lesson of how not to underestimate your opponents. I know one may ask whether the same doesn’t apply to the flagstaff\jubilee house, as well as the possibility of new cars not being bugged for instance. Well, the answer lies in trust and for us to reckon that it is more acceptable to believe that there can be life on mars, than to believe that there can be life on mercury.
We need to look beyond the sensationalism, politics without telos and non purposive criticism and face the fact. The President must buy new cars and indeed use new cars. Well, facts are simple, opinions are free. This is the village talkative.
Author: Kow Kwegya Amissah Abraham
Lecturer (UCC), Exc. Dir. (CEPRAT)