Opinion: Presidents Cannot Get Enough Security – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo/Photo: Presidency

The story was deftly and sensitively and, I guess you could aptly say, responsibly written, even if its caption left much to be desired. I am referring to the story in which an elderly Akufo-Addo admirer or supporter was shown on a videotape being decked to the ground in an unidentified location, because he had ventured too dangerously close to the President. The story accompanying a still-picture of the videotape capturing this rather unfortunate situation was sensitively written, because it aptly highlighted the fact that such occurrences run riotous and rampant all over the world and thus was not in any way unique.

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Anyway, I decided to opportunely weigh in on this subject, which has generated a bit of sensation because on Wednesday, August 1, I took a long-planned trip to Jubilee House, the seat of Ghana’s Presidency, the first in my life, with my wife and our two boys to pay an informal courtesy call on President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The children wanted to meet and shake hands with this biggest cheese of their late grandfather’s Kyebi Clan, as they put it. And boy was I impressed with the Byzantine maze of the security network that we had to cut through to get into the capacious and well-appointed Office of the President of the Democratic Republic of Ghana.

At one point, I had a little disagreement with one of the security personnel at the first post who politely but firmly told me that I would not be able to bring along my well-worn and weather-bitten I-Phone 6 mobile phone, with which I intended to take a selfie with the President. That was my boys’ idea. A moment of deafening, spine-chilling and brooding silence ensued. Nothing doing. That was the vehement and abrupt response from the first security guard we encountered. My wife’s I-phone 7 mobile phone and that of the relative who had driven us to Jubilee House were promptly handed over to the quite buffy middle-age-looking man and promptly slipped into a large padded envelope, after which a small yellow slip for identification upon our return was passed to us in return.

I pleaded with the officer, against my better judgment, to let me keep my phone, because the whole point of my visit was to have my family take a selfie with Nana Akufo-Addo; and, that the President of Ghana was a blood relative and a personal hero whose security could perhaps be better guaranteed with me than with any paid security personnel. But I also promptly acknowledged, almost apologetically, that the sort of airtight cordon apparently established around the President was one that I could not be prouder of. As far as I was concerned, I told Sgt. Bullshitsky (not his real name, of course), it was precisely what the proverbial doctor ordered. Of course, I knew I was being a patent and inexcusable “ass in the butt,” as New Yorkers are wont to say. Inexcusably absurd, as my wife let me know in clear and uncompromising terms, later, when we were well out of earshot.

As always, I stuck to my guns, lest I should lose my inviolable and inalienable familial pants-wearing status. After all, I didn’t sweat it out profusely all these nine years, writing and publishing reams of passionately pro-Akufo-Addo articles and catching partisan flack for the same, in the face of serious threats from both political opponents and internal rivals, only to be given third-class security clearance where it matters the most. I shall, in due course, be taking up snippets of this most personally historic and eventful experience for discussion in some of my “post-Ghana” columns. But before I do so, I should like to acknowledge with profound gratitude the yeomanly work of Presidential Aides like Mr. Eugene Arhin, the Director of Communications at Jubilee House, who made my access to President Akufo-Addo possible and, of course, the President himself, as well as all those whose names I cannot readily remember. All these people work symphonically and tirelessly around the clock to make the epic work of moving the nation ahead seamless and flawless; they, literally, make our dear nation great and strong every single day; and not only great and strong, but also prosperous and worthy of the envy and respect of the rest of the proverbial International Community.

I also think that some sustained form of public and civic education by the operatives of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) needs to be launched across the country to forestall such an unfortunate experience as reportedly endured by the unidentified elderly Akufo-Addo admirer and/or fan. The fact of the matter, though, is that not everybody who comes within an arm’s length of any President or Head-of-State, for that matter, can be facilely presumed to be a friend or benign admirer. Some of such people in the past have proven to be lethal, and even deadly, to the subjects of their deftly feigned admiration, as once happened to the legendary African-American human rights leader and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Harlem, New York, when a woman who had managed to get close to him in a heavy crowd plunged what looked like the blade of a kitchen knife into his chest.

Indeed, the surgeons who operated on MLK would later say that had the globally renowned victim as much as sneezed while the blade of the knife was still stuck in his chest, prior to him being operated upon to have the deadly weapon removed, MLK would not have survived to forgive his would-be assassin, let alone moralize and sermonize about the same.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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