OF COURSE, the whole world knows that Ghana has only one President, who lives and serves the country from the Flag Staff House, the nation’s Presidential Palace. His name is President John Dramani Mahama, who took office on July 24, 2012, following the death of the then incumbent, Professor John Atta Mills. Prior to his emergence as President, Mahama, who turns 58, this November, had served as Professor Mill’s deputy between 2009 and 2012.
However, the president I’m introducing to you today rules and reigns in a territory called Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, less than two kilometres from where President Mahama calls the shot. Unlike Mahama who comes from the Northern Region, this president is a Ga from Accra. And although Mahama is fighting one of the biggest battles of his political life to renew his mandate in November, the president at Nkrumah Circle reigns in perpetuity. He has no term limit. And he is the only president in the whole wide world who is identified by a single name.
Call me “Buddy”, he ordered me during my first contact with him, on phone, on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. “My name is President Buddy. But my fans call me Hustler.” But he wouldn’t tell you his jurisdiction as ‘President’ nor his vocation. He left that hanging until we met face-to-face a week later and I discovered that he is the King of Area Boys (as we call them in Nigeria) in that part of Accra that is a perfect mimicry of Oshodi. This is the President who summoned me, last week, for a “very important message.”
Let me digress a bit and give you the prelude to all these. On Saturday, May 18, 2016, I had gone to CHISCO park at Kwame Nkrumah Circle to make an inquiry. It had rained cats and dogs almost all day; and all
the known flood plains of the city had vomited water in million barrels, fuelling fears that another calamity might be brewing.
Since Wednesday, June 3, 2015, when killer floods and thunderstorm-ignited fire claimed 200 lives in this same area, people are usually apprehensive anytime the clouds are gathering. It was double jeopardy for me that Saturday because not only did it pour virtually non-stop, traffic stood still everywhere. And my car had sucked so much water that its air-conditioning system gave up. I had no other choice than to wind down the front windows.
Ten minutes later, I was taught an unforgettable lesson. A young man sitting on the median in the rain suddenly shouted: “Boss! Boss!!” Thinking he was trying to draw my attention to something happening to the car, I turned to ask what the matter was. He replied me with a guttural laughter. By the time I returned my gaze to the car and the gridlock in my front, my Samsung J7 and Techno Phantom phones had disappeared. I never saw the hand that took them. Everything happened in a jiffy.
I was dumbfounded. I was angry. I was angry at myself for being so foolish to leave my phones in the open compartment around the gear lever where they could be easily picked. I punched myself for being so dumb to think this could only happen in Lagos and never in Accra. In my anger and confusion, I looked round to see if any of the motorists in the traffic snarl could say something to me. After all, the wise is touted to have answers to questions asked by fools. I got neither answer nor sympathy. Only cold stares. Blank faces that increased the intensity of my anger.
At a point, I wanted to jump down and waddle through the flood to a police patrol unit under the bridge but I couldn’t. What
if the traffic starts moving now? I asked nobody in particular. I sat back to lick my wounds, breathing heavily, cursing under my breathe. With no phones and all my important data gone, I became like fish out of water. By the time I got home, two hours later, and used my son’s phone to call my numbers, they had all been switched off. I only got back my two Ghana lines two days later from the service providers. I flew out of Accra that night, still brooding over my loss.
On Wednesday, May 25, however, the improbable happened. Jimaima Chime, a former staffer of The Sun Publishing Ghana Limited, called my Nigerian GLO line and someone answered, asking if she was the owner. She said ‘No’, and the voice instructed her to tell the owner to call him. Jimaima called me in a jiffy. Few minutes later, I was on the line with the anonymous caller. He told me he had nabbed the thief who stole my phone and had deposited it with the Good News Police Station at Nkrumah Circle. He instructed me to call him as soon as I return to Accra.
I did so as soon as I got out of the terminal building at the Kotoka International Airport last Monday. Finally, I met President Buddy at about 2p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, in front of Vodafone Office, as he had instructed. Unlike your typical Lagos Area Boy, who is usually scruffy with eyes blazing like thunder, President Buddy is well dressed. He looks so neat and chubby you would almost mistake him for an office worker. That’s until he begins to speak his incoherent English, belching alcohol.
I shake and hold his hand firmly in a sign of friendship as I step out of the car. He shakes his head, saying: “We are going to drive to the police station.”
‘Why?’ I ask him, genuinely puzzled. ‘Why can’t you give me my phones here and let’s get this done with?’
“Boss, I no dey do my business like that,” he says firmly in broken English. The fierce look on his face tells me to comply without questions. He sinks his bulk into the passenger’s seat beside me and directs me on the way to go. I don’t need any seer to tell me I’m driving a ‘VIP’. “Presido!” “Buddy!” “Hustler!” people hail him all the way to Good News Police Station, a station the size of a 14-foot container. Even officers address him interchangeably as “Buddy” and “Hustler.
Once he hands me to the station officer, he steps outside. After about 10-minute interrogation, one of my phones, the Samsung Galaxy J7, is released to me. I ask about the second. “That’s all we retrieved from the boys, sir,” the officer tells me without looking up. I thank him and show appreciation. Now motivated, the officer begins a lecture on how to avoid robbery attacks at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. I thank him and leave.
President Buddy is waiting for me on the car’s burnet. “How much did you give them?” He asks me magisterially as he enters the car; and we drive out of the station. ‘I only appreciated them,’ I reply. “For what, Boss? They didn’t do anything. I did the whole job. Anyway, my money is 100 Cedis!” he says firmly. ‘100 Cedis (about N8, 000)? I have 50.’ I beg him as I flash a 50 Cedi bill at him. He grabs it before flying into a tantrum. I play the dumb. He calms down. Then, he drops this hint as he opens the car in front of Vodafone Office, our take-off point: ‘As long as I live, nobody fit steal your thing in this Circle. If it ever happens again, call me.’
Before I could say ‘Thank you’, President Buddy hops out of the car and dissolves into the milling crowd.