Though not enough leave days, I was highly elated to hear in the news on May 10, 2018, that the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has taken a one-week annual vacation.
I was disappointed though with some aspects of the announcement contained in a release from the Communications Bureau of the Jubilee House.
The release indicated that the leave was for one week. I wondered why such a short leave after a non-stop busy schedule. The communication also said that he would be holidaying in the UK? Did I hear correctly?
Five working days leave is not enough for the CEO of Ghana Incorporated who has worked back-to-back for 16 months running. At most, 10 working days would have been ideal.
And why a holiday in the UK? I was waiting to clap my hands for an announcement of a relaxing holiday at Peduase Lodge or any of our holiday resorts to explore the destination’s domestic tourism offerings.
But come to think of it, the President’s leave was less than a week. He reportedly took up speaking engagements at Oxford University and the London Business School.
All the same, the decision for a break by the President gladdened my heart solely because a personal request of mine had been answered. On Saturday, 28th April, I made a request through my column in the Daily Graphic for the President to take his long overdue annual leave.
The President’s annual leave may or may not be related to my article which was entitled “Chief of Staff – President’s annual leave is overdue”.
However, I am honoured with the outcome two weeks after the publication was out. Indeed at the time of the publication, I received comments from some concerned Ghanaians who thought the President needed a break. Similarly, I have received comments to the effect that I have been vindicated.
I saw the President a week before his annual holiday. This was at the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony and Gala Dinner held on 2nd May at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra. Sitting a few tables away from me, I thought the President did not look himself.
Uncharacteristic of Mr President, he was slightly late for the Gala dinner. Due to his consistent strict adherence to time, my friend and I made it a point to arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the advertised time. Though he was on time for the main course, he left just before the dessert was served.
I noticed the delivery of his speech lacked the vim that I am used to seeing in the President. Shortly after a few pleasantries, he left before some of us could have had the opportunity of a presidential handshake. That day, I saw the tiredness in his eyes and his demeanour gave him away. Some people on my table observed it too.
The Chief of Staff did well to have signed off the President’s leave form even though she should have given him or insisted on 10 days off. Had he taken 10days off, he could have perhaps given Meghan Markle the moral support as she and Prince Harry tie the knot at Windsor on May 19. Nonetheless, though a short leave, one expects that he would return to his desk with some renewed energy.
It is said that it is always better late than never. So, as the leave culture has started at the Presidency, one hopes that Mr President would clear all his outstanding leave before the end of the year and certainly before he ushers in his third year in office. While the iron is hot, one expects to see the Vice President taking his vacation next as his boss returns to the office and he hands over to him.
The leave cycle should not stop with the first and second gentlemen alone. Our Ministers should be taking turns to go on their annual vacation as well. Luckily, almost all the Ministers have deputies with some even having two.
It is time for us to inculcate the habit of annual leave in the life of all our high profile office holders.
The wheel of governance must run and it must run with healthy and energised officials. A break from their hectic schedules would help relax and refresh them for the task ahead.
Mr President, while you were away and in case the hand over notes and other briefings do not capture it, I am pleased to inform you that the rains came down. We even had a 12-hour downpour last week. The drains, as usual, vomited all the choked plastics and other solid waste onto the streets.
I immediately saw a threat to your wish to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa.
The good news is that Accra did not witness major cases of flooding and fatalities as a 12-hour downpour sometimes brought us. We also have been lucky with some bit of a cool weather in the evenings.
We gathered however that in the UK airconditioners have been turned on as they welcome glamourous sunshine in their backyard.
For now, with a gladsome mind, we welcome the President back from the first lap of his annual holiday. Akwaaba from a short but a long deserving holiday Mr. President.
Columnist: Reality Zone with Vicky Wireko