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Friday, June 14, 2024

‘ESCAPADES OF KWEKU ATTA, ESQ.,’-An African President

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Norman Goodman Misserial’s

www.ghanareaders.com

 

The List and the Transport

Kwaata was looking at the television in anger. It had been several hours since his Press Aide Ralph Bonsu had issued a statement that he, the President of Ogyakrom, was about to travel to Belgium as a Special Guest at the swearing-in of the new Prime Minister, but the news, both television and radio, was full of the troubles at Nabadoge. Worse, some ‘Talking Heads’ on radio and television were actually condemning him for travelling when tribal war had just broken out in some parts of the country. Chief among the critics, of course, was Kwesi Anopoma, his longtime critic and a loyalist of Alhaji Efovi Zubaida, his Arch Political Nemesis.

Kwaata’s mind diverted to the long and implacable opposition of Anopoma to Capitalist Inheritance Party (CIP). Anopoma, the journalist, had been a one-time political ally of CIP. Originally a member of the Independence Peoples Party (IPP) led by the legendary political Maradona Kwame Nkrumah, Anopoma had allied with elements in CIP to oppose the military misrule of J.J. Rawlings, a military dictator who had managed to take over Ogyakrom with a single AK 47 rifle and a violent look.

Anopoma had assumed that his loyalty would be returned by CIP, until it was flagrantly betrayed. Since then, Anopoma has dedicated himself to the undoing of CIP, even to the extent of supporting Zubaida’s SP, which was originally founded by Anopoma’s Arch-Enemy, JJ Rawlings. The irony of things often left Kwaata with a rueful smile.

He turned to the list on his table submitted by Ralph Bonsu. Somehow, even before Ralph Bonsu had issued the press release on the journey, information had leaked at the big house, and many of the fresh appointees were clamouring to be in on the trip to Belgium. So far, the list had exceeded thirty people and climbing rapidly.

Kwaata was annoyed. Ogyakrom owns three presidential jets, but the first one, a DC 10 bought forty years ago was just too old and was used as a troop carrier internally. Anytime Kwaa heard that it was flying, he prayed to God to be spared a story of dozens of troops dropped over hundreds of yards. The aircraft was deservedly called a Flying Coffin. That left the two latest presidential jets, a Gulfstream G650 and a Dassault Falcon 7X. The first has a maximum capacity of 18 passengers, and the second a maximum capacity of sixteen passengers. That brought the total capacity of the two Presidential Jets to about thirty-four, counting pilots and staff. So it was either that some of the party had to be dropped, or new transport had to be found.

For a moment, Kwaa thought of dropping some of the people who had suddenly found themselves on the list. Among them was his Chief of Staff and her retinue, the acting Foreign Minister and her retinue, the Trades Minister and his retinue, the President and his retinue (including the incomparable Yaa Ponko). Altogether, not counting security personnel, that brought the list to thirty-four people. Indeed, a larger jet was required. He hit the intercom, and a moment later, Ralph Bonsu was standing in front of his desk.

“I thought I told you that I needed a small delegation,” he said.

“Yes, but as soon as word got out, all the rest thought that they should be on board,” Ralph Bonsu replied.

“They should be on board, they should be on board,” grumbled the President. “Everything they should be on board. What does the Chief of Staff believe she needs to be in Belgium for?”

“She says this is her first opportunity to be in Belgium. She has never been,” replied the Press Aide.

Well, that’s a good reason, thought the President.

It was popularly known that one of the favorite pastimes of current President was traveling. Indeed, he said in an interview with a foreign journalist that his best moments were spent on any continent apart from Africa. The interview almost became his political undoing. He had to spend money bribing the foreign correspondent and his network, as well as some internet search-engine operators, before the matter could be amended online. After that interview, he took more care when speaking to journalists from out of state media. As for the local ones, they could always be bought or threatened to see reason.

“Hmm, okay, so how do we get all these people to Belgium?” he wondered querulously.

“Well, I was thinking we should hire a jet,” Ralph said, thinking of the gentleman and lady even now sitting in his own office. They were representatives of an international aircraft hiring agency, who, upon hearing of the trip, had immediately journeyed to the Big House to see him.

Ralph dropped a brochure he was holding onto the desk, and the picture on the cover immediately caught the attention of the President.

He asked in a voice only louder than whisper, “Are they selling it?”

Ralph smiled at the top of the bowed head, “No. it is for hire.”

The President flipped through the pages. The brochure revealed a Boeing BBJ MAX 7. Called the Opus concept, it has a customisable layout that can include open meeting spaces for working, a bathroom with stand-up shower, and lounge areas with long sofas. There’s also a kitchen and bedroom, as well as a crew lavatory and rest area. All the colours were in blue, grey and gold. Imagine, a shower in the sky!

It was a huge aircraft, and Kwaa whispered, “Can it take up to forty passengers?”

Ralph swallowed. He was almost about to conclude a deal with the people in his office on this one. He knew that he had the man in front of him sold on this one, if he could play his cards well.

“I will speak to them. But if not, we can send one of the smaller jets ahead with the supporting staff, so that the President and Ministers ride in this one,” he said, not adding that he would also be in the same jet.

Kwaa nodded, too awed to speak. Imagine, him, Kwaata of Mpasaase, needing two aeroplanes to ferry a retinue.

It did not for a moment occur to him that he was leading one of the poorest nations on the planet.

To be con’t.

(You can follow stories in the Daily Searchlight on www.thedailysearchlight.com or Daily Searchlight on our Facebook home page. Write to us on searchlightnews@yahoo.co.uk).

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