Never has the innermost circle of the President Nana Akufo-Addo Government been as sharply divided it has now on the subject aforementioned; my deep throat source on the corridors of power indicates.
Suddenly, everybody who had hitherto been silent on sensitive national matters
sprang to live and mounts a spirited defence for or against a casual comment that was made rather loosely in a brief moment of levity. Passions and emotions are beginning to cloud judgements and the President brilliantly breaks the bubble by saying, “I’d ride a horse, if we can’t agree on which vehicle make to drive in”.
But citizens, I can tell you on authority that the debate is still on and very feisty too.
Citizens, please put on your imaginative abilities as I take you on a virtual simulation of what lied in the heart of the rather heated debate. And please, for once, do not be a spectator but a good citizen, for after all this subject is devoid of the proverbial GDP, inflation, exchange rate, foreign direct investment, depreciation, additional budget funding and all the other wild economic jargons that are normally bandied around just to scare the innocent Ghanaian. Say something and shame the devil.
The Kantanka Proponents
The thrust of the argument as advanced by the proponents of the motion is that the President, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo has always been a firm advocate of the abilities of the Ghanaian.
Indeed, everything is his upbringing and life story gives credence to that assertion. His close followers and family are not new to what became known as the BIG movement. And BIG stands for Believe in Ghana. To them, the Kantanka proponents, no speech can be so illustriously written as a bold demonstration of leadership by example. No plagiarism software known to man even in the Silicon Valley can flag a Kantanka design.
The propaganda value, sense of nationalism and the boost to the can-do spirit of the Ghanaian entrepreneur and the African story by such a move is immeasurable. To them, a drive in a Kantanka vehicle on such an important day in the history of Ghana would carry the boldest statement that Ghana is open for business. The President at a point during his run for high office sat in a public vehicle, popularly called Trotro. The proponents of the novelty strongly believe that, if the ramshackle vehicle from the Gold Coast colonial era could not inflict bodily harm on the then candidate Akufo Addo, then a robust and state of the art Kantanka vehicle is more than safe to transport the President.
They made lucid financial analysis to back their claim too. By their analysis as advanced, the cost of just one modified vehicle purchased abroad can build three modified Kantanka vehicles built and assembled in Ghana. They argue that in the light of Gh₵ 7 billion undisclosed expenditure made by the previous Government, purchasing a new fleet of vehicles from abroad could upset the national purse.
They concluded on a rather light-hearted note that, considering the penchant of some government appointees for taking home state vehicles, albeit unethically as we are experiencing now, the call to fall on the Ghanaian Engineer, Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo’s design couldn’t have come at an appropriate time.
This they claim is because the Kantanka vehicles can be programmed to respond to a central human command. And so if the current 208 missing vehicles as reported by the communications bureau of the Presidency were of Kantanka make, Eugene Arhin would just have had to call the missing vehicles by their chassis numbers and they would have responded and reported back to the Presidency. End of story.
The Nay Sayers
The strongest argument advanced by the anti-Kantanka vehicle group was that of security. They argued that the first Gentleman of the land cannot be used as a test rabbit in a populist display of needless bravado. Indeed, they concede that President Akufo-Addo has driven in a Kantanka vehicle before but that was when he was a private citizen. To the naysayers and many of their colleagues even on the other side of the debate, Nana-Addo is not like any other President; he is a President on a mission. They would not risk seating a 72-year-old President in a homemade vehicle that responds to clapping and shouting on no other day than 6th March 2017 when even the death and damp will be shouting and clapping. They acknowledged that the Vice President of the immediate past administration took delivery of two of the Kantanka vehicles and added them to the Presidential fleet of vehicles but cannot vouch for their security clearance for such an occasion.
Timing is the next excuse of the nay Sayers. The opined strongly that special envoys had as part of the advance preparatory team gone to the USA, Germany, and Japan to arrange for special vehicles that befit the status of our President on our 60th birthday as a nation enjoying independence. We cannot park a Mercedes or a BMW only to drive in a Kantanka Obrempong especially when the suggestion to embark on such a populist experiment was made barely a month to such a historic occasion, they said.
“Nobody should misconstrue our objections or the reasons for which we object the use of the Kantanka vehicles on Ghana’s 60th birthday. We are not against Ghanaian or even African ingenuity‘’, they said. The glorious day will come when a Ghanaian President will drive safely in a homemade vehicle even on a historic occasion, but certainly, that day cannot be 6th March 2017, and definitely not President Akufo-Addo. This is how they ended their submission.
The alarm on my phone went off and woke me up from my deep sleep just about the time both debating sides were preparing to rebut the arguments advanced by their opponents even on this powerful circle of influence at the Presidency. It was only then done I realise that I had been dreaming all this while. What a dream! I was left disappointed initially on my old HTC phone but this disappointment quickly turned into a strong disdain towards one of the sides of the debating teams in my dream. I gasped for breath and sat down to type quickly lest I forget.
Was my disdain justified? And at which of the debating sides, please? You choose. Maybe and just maybe, what you say as citizens and what we witness on 6th March 2017 would give us a fair idea of which side won the debate in my dream. Thank you and God bless our homeland Ghana.
The author is a Research Fellow at the Danquah Institute.