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General News of Thursday, 26 February 2015

Source: The Republic

Osafo Maafo's tape: Ken Agyapong takes NPP on

The recent tribally discriminatory statements made by Yaw Osafo Marfo, a former Finance Minister and a leading member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has drawn a sharp division through the NPP as those in support of the statements are up in arms against those who have “disassociated” themselves from it.

In the forefront of the supporters of Osafo Marfo’s tribal bigotry statement is Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, the NPP Member of Parliament for Assin North, who described the main opposition party as “Idiots”, “Foolish” and very “stupid” for dissociating itself from Osafo Marfo’s controversial statements.

“…they listen to the media…they are very stupid. They are foolish; stupid people. I don’t know why I belong to that political party. They are idiots,” a visibly peeved Ken Agyapong fumed on Adom FM on Wednesday.

Last week, a secret tape reportedly containing the voice of Mr. Osafo Marfo making serious tribally divisive statements was made public. He was heard inciting a group of NPP members to challenge the status quo for what he perceived as an unfair treatment of certain tribes (particularly the Akan tribes in Ghana) by the current government.

The unguarded statements apparently caused a huge embarrassment to the main opposition party, which called a crunch meeting on Tuesday, after which they publicly disassociated themselves from Mr. Osafo Marfo’s statements.

But Ken Agyapong fumed at the party’s decision to condemn the statements; “They are always eager to disassociate themselves from their members who get into trouble” They have done that to Osafo Marfo too…,” he charged the NPP in Twi, citing the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) as having a lot more camaraderie than their main opposition. “If it was an NDC member who made those comments, you will not get anybody [from the NDC] to make any [disparaging] comment on that.”

According to him, the apparent lack of cooperation within the NPP is part of the reasons why the NPP has remained in opposition for several years now “…That is why we are in opposition.”

He claims there is discrimination “in the highest level” in the NDC government, citing key national positions currently being manned by non-Akans.

In the tape, the voice allegedly belonging to Mr. Osafo-Marfo was heard complaining about a perceived unfair distribution of resources to deserving ethnic groups in Ghana, saying that even though about 90 percent of Ghana’s natural resources are concentrated in mainly Akan-speaking regions of the country, it is people who come from regions without resources –particularly from the Northern part of the country- that are governing these resources.

The tape is said to have been secretly recorded during a recent meeting between the former Finance Minister and the NPP’s Council of Elders in the Eastern region.

The voice, which mostly spoke in the local Twi language, was heard saying: “…You have all the resources, but you have no say in the management of your resources, and that is what is happening. Your development depends on the one who has no resources,” the voice said.

“We should protect ourselves, we should protect our income. No one who is the source of income, the source of revenue, the source of resources allows another person without those resources the chance (to rule over them). It’s never done anywhere in the world. In the world over, it is the group with the most resources that rules and not the other way around,” He continued.

“86.5 percent of resources in Ghana come from five regions: Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern, Western and Central. This is where 86 percent of the resources of Ghana come from… And the oil was also discovered in the West. It will change the formula to about 90 percent. We cannot ignore these five regions. We should not,” the voice on the tape added.

However, the fiery Ken Agyapong, who have been condemned in the past for making similar caustic tribal statements, said he did not see anything wrong in Mr. Osafo Marfo’s outbursts; “...what is wrong with someone saying he is proud to be an Ewe, Ga or Northerner? However, if i go to say I am proud to be an Akan [it becomes a problem]. Do we have a problem in this country, why, aren’t Akans human beings? Why are we behaving like this in this country? The Akans are even afraid to say they are Akans and are quick to disassociate themselves from people who are bold to confront the reality,” he questioned.

Already, key members of the NPP including the party’s former scribe, Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy and Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe have condemned Osafo Marfo for his ‘unguarded’ statements bordering on tribal sentiments. Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe claims he was possessed by an evil spirit.

Even though the party has officially dissociated itself from the controversial tribal statements, the flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, who has also received massive public flak over ethnocentric statements he had made in the past, has been mostly quiet on the issue.

Dr. Tamakloe and Dr. Arthur Kennedy claims this posture from Akufo Addo can only mean he is in support of such statements. For opponents of tribal politics in the NPP, such tribal statements similar to Osafo Marfo’s can cost the party the 2016 presidential elections.

The NPP is mostly seen as an Akan party, and its top hierarchy is dominated by ethnic orientations from the Ashanti and Akyem part of the country.

In the past couple of years, the party has tried very hard to diffuse the perception that it was ethnocentric, however, actions and statements made by its leading members have convinced critics that its house-cleaning measures to appear ethnically unbiased were just ‘Smoke-screens’.