General News of Thursday, 5 October 2017
Scores of students who lined the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway Wednesday to usher in President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s two-day working tour of the Upper East region were dealt a heavy disappointment as their great expectations— a direct interaction with the President, for the first time since a regime change 10 months ago— crashed.
The students, whose school authorities reportedly had been notified by executives of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the Commander in Chief would stop off on the highway upon arrival to address them, did not even see a presidential wave as the convoy, with acrobatic dispatch riders in front, breezed past them and their teachers.
Holding miniature national flags and looking splendid in their school uniforms, the students stood in the sun from around 10:30am to about 2:00pm. Starr News captured many of the fatigued students on camera whilst they were fast asleep in dry gutters by the road after they had waited much longer than the ideal time.
The reactions written on the faces of the frustrated-looking students and their authorities, after the President had passed, were described by observers in more ways than just one. For some, it was anger. Others called it wrath. But for another pack of observers, to label the tone of a fury that tore through the air everywhere as anger or wrath was an unqualified understatement. They called it furore.
A student from the Bolgatanga Girls Senior High School, whose face burned like a furnace, told Starr News: “The President did not even wave. Look at the way we are sweating. We were hungry. Common water, we didn’t get.”
Another student ranted by a crowded roadside, “We came here around 10:30 this morning. It’s now 2:15pm. We would have had about 4 lessons during the four hours we have wasted here. 2020!”
But the Principal of the Bolgatanga Technical Institute, Thomas Amare, who was also spotted waiting it out in the sun with some teachers, is calm despite the twist of events. “We only got the information and they brought mini flags to us. I even stood there up to almost 2 o’clock. But this should not be an issue. If the President didn’t stop, do I have to force him to stop to talk to the students? I was there throughout,” he told Starr News.
President’s tour does not include stopover— Information Minister
The Minister for Information, Mustapha Hamid, who is among key government officials accompanying the President on the tour, justified what the angry students said was a “snub”.
He told Starr News in a telephone interview President Akufo-Addo would have had no option but to stop on the way to address the students if such arrangement had been part of his itinerary.
“Normally, there is a programme before the President goes to every town or village or wherever in Ghana. And if the programme doesn’t state that he would do a whistle-stop at Bolgatanga Girls Senior High School, definitely nobody would stop. The regional executives should have done the programme and said, ‘whistle-stop at Bolga Girls’. Then, we know that there is a stop.
“But as for students lining the streets to wave the President, it happens everywhere. But that normally is not an indication that the President has to stop. People waving at the President on the streets, that one is normal practice in our country. Tomorrow morning, I will talk to the regional executives and see what remedy we can effect. I will deal with it tomorrow,” Mr. Hamid said Wednesday night.
The NPP’s Upper East Regional Secretary, Cletus Ayambire, who said he handed the miniature flags to the schools ahead of the President’s arrival, regretted after the students’ expectations were dashed.
But he hinted at a possible sympathy visit by President Akufo-Addo Thursday to a woman at the Upper East Regional Hospital who gave birth to triplets— two boys and one girl— but lost the two boys shortly after delivery.