So the president travels abroad for a few days. He has been away for just about four days. Upon his return, there is a whole retinue of ministers, special assistants, presidential aides and protocol officers waiting at the airport to welcome him.

Why should government officials – including the vice president – drop everything else they are doing to go to the airport to welcome the president who has been away for just a few days? Or don’t they have anything better doing? Even if they didn’t have much to do, wouldn’t they be better off spending their time relaxing at home rather than going to the airport to welcome the returning president?

For years, we’ve seen our government officials wasting hours at the airport just to receive our returning president. But as I read the story in the newspapers about President Mills’ return from the useless NAM Summit in Egypt, I asked myself: what’s the point in having the national security co-ordinator, the interior minister, the vice president, the national security co-ordinator and several other government officials and hangers-on at the airport to welcome the returning president?

A few days earlier, I had seen pictures of President Obama returning from his tour of three countries (including Ghana). There wasn’t a retinue of government officials at the airport to welcome him – only a helicopter to fly him from Maryland to the White House. The director of the CIA wasn’t there. The secretary for homeland secretary wasn’t there. And his vice president was at home.

We waste a lot of time doing a lot of unnecessary things in this country. Since President Mills promised in his sessional address that he’s going to pursue new ways of doing things, I think he should tell his ministers to stop wasting time coming to meet him at the airport after he has been away for only a few days.

In the same vein, they should not follow him to the entrance of the plane just to wave at him when he is going away.

The ministers can spend their time usefully doing better stuff – like, in the case of Avoka, exercising in the gym to shrink his fast-growing pot-belly. Even if they do not have any serious official duty to perform, they should just stay home and sleep. Or spend time with their families – or girlfriends and concubines.

Trooping to the airport to see off the president or welcome him back doesn’t show loyalty. It doesn’t show respect. And it simply doesn’t make sense. I pray this practise ends with President Mills. When he travels and returns, only his limousine and a few of his aides and protocol officers should be at the airport to welcome him. The ministers (and the vice president) can see him later and brief him about what has happened in his absence.

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