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General News of Thursday, 27 August 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Stranek-Africa kicks against ethnocentric comments by political actors

Nii Tettey Tetteh, Executive Director of Stranek-Africa Nii Tettey Tetteh, Executive Director of Stranek-Africa

Executive Director of Stranek-Africa, Nii Tettey Tetteh, has condemned the recent upsurge in ethnocentric pronouncements in public discourse by various political actors.

In a statement copied to GhanaWeb, the executive director called for a cease-fire between political parties and rather urged them to focus on issues that affect the majority of Ghanaians.

According to him, recent political discourse has been fueled by ethnocentric comments likely to polarize the state.

These ethnocentric comments by individuals, especially politicians, he believes will compromise national security and peaceful coexistence among Ghanaians.

Nii Tettey Tetteh also indicated that his outfit together with other CSOs “will set up a monitoring mechanism to name, shame and even consider legal action against anyone who engages in any act of ethnocentrism or tribal bigotry”.

Below is the full statement

CSOs LED BY STRANEK-AFRICA ON THE DANGERS OF ETHNOCENTRISM TO GHANA’S UNITY, STABILITY, PEACE AND SECURITY ADDRESSED ON 26TH AUGUST, 2020 AT THE GHANA INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE, ACCRA

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, we welcome you to this important press conference, and would rely greatly on you to pass our strong message across to government, our chiefs, religious leaders and statesmen on the looming dangers of acts of covert and overt acts of ethnocentrism that threaten to undermine the peace, unity, stability and security in Ghana.

We deem it important to call this press conference because the silence of those who must speak and act to condemn the creeping acts of ethnocentrism which has the potential to plunge this country into conflict and derail our progress.

Ethnocentrism is a major cause of conflicts in Africa. You may recall that one of the devastating conflicts in Rwanda in 1994 between the Tutsi and Hutus resulted in the massacre of 800,000 people mainly Tutsis.

One of the unique things that set Ghana apart from other countries is our ability to live together in peace and harmony despite our ethnic and religious diversity. The beauty of this is that we have lived together in harmony, attend churches, mosques, and school to the extent that there is a high rate of intermarriages among citizens.

It is not for nothing that the framers of our Constitution, in article 35(5) states that (5) The state shall actively promote the integration of the peoples of Ghana and PROHIBIT discrimination and prejudice on the grounds of place of origin, circumstances of birth, ethnic origin, gender or religion, creed or other beliefs.

(6) Towards the achievement of the objectives stated in clause (5), the state shall take appropriate measures to:

(a) Foster a spirit of loyalty to Ghana that overrides sectional, ethnic and other loyalties.

(b) Provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout Ghana.

Ladies and gentlemen, contrary to the provisions in article 35 of the constitution certain individuals, especially prominent politicians, continue to harbour and occasionally, publicly make statements that spark ethnocentric agitations.

Ghanaians will recall that in 2016, the former Finance Minister under the erstwhile Kufuor administration, Yaw Osafo-Maafo was accused of making ethnocentric comments on a leaked tape.

On the said secret tape, while addressing a meeting on the NPP council of elders in the Eastern Region 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,”

“You can’t say this openly,” he cautioned the Council members, but added that they are at liberty to talk about it among Asantes.

“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,” the voice said.

In the estimation of the voice, “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 added.

The utterances were greeted by a massive demonstration by people of Tamale. When it was so obvious that the utterances on the secret tape was his voice, he attempted to cover up by claiming that his voice was doctored. He never accepted responsibility for this statement let alone apologize for such dangerous, nation-wrecking and divisive comments.

Today Hon. Osafo Maafo is not just a Minister but the Senior Minister at the Office of the president. Many prominent personalities such as chiefs and the clergy failed to condemn this utterance.

Friends from the Media, not long ago, the Hon. William Agyapong Quaitoo, the Member of Parliament for Akim Oda Constituency was forced to resign as Deputy Minister of Agriculture over derogatory comments against people from the north. The Honourable Member for Adansi Asokwa, K. T Hammond also made very frightening, deeply disturbing comments by saying that Togolese and people of the Volta Region are of the same tribe and so they walk into Ghana but they are not Ghanaians.

We have listened to the ethnocentric comments made by the Honourable Minister for Ashanti Region, Hon. Simon Osei Mensah against people from the north and find condemnable and completely unacceptable. The Honourable Minister for Ashanti Region indicated, and with the greatest of respect, that Northerners are bereft of sense and added that Northerners destroy everything they touch. Hon. Simon Osei Mensah even ran down the influence of Northerners with regards to decision making by questioning the percentage of total votes of Northerners in Ghana in times of public elections as well as public referenda.

Unlike Hon. William Agyapong Quaitoo who was forced to resign and he did the same, the Ashanti Regional Minister remained comfortably at post.

During the just ended voter’s registration exercise, we were all witnesses to the state sponsored acts of national disunity and systematic marginalization of non-Akan speaking Ghanaians.

We saw the sponsored efforts to prevent a section of the Ghanaian population from registering to vote in the just ended registration exercise conducted by the Electoral Commission of Ghana. These were acts of discrimination.

Rather than challenge prospective registrants who are perceived to be unqualified, as provided for under C.I 94, there was physical use of violence to prevent such Ghanaians from registering as happened in the Eastern border of the country.

As a Greek school of thought opines, tribesmen are people that look at everything from the point of view of their tribe. They are people that believe in only their tribe and see the rest of the other tribes as lesser citizens. Could the Greeks be right about the description of tribesmen since the cap fits perfectly on Hon. Simon Osei Mensah per his ethnocentric cum tribalistic comments on the Northern people of Ghana?

These developments are very dangerous and they represent the greatest threat to our national unity, stability, peace and security project. As the youth of this country, we shall be the worst affected when anything untoward happens. We have waited patiently for our moral voices to speak against these ills. Unfortunately, most of them remain silent.

We collectively condemn ethnocentric comments. Comments like these create chaos and danger and are highly unacceptable.

Let us as Ghanaians come together, shun and chastise people who make such comments because we are one people. No tribe is superior than the other and that is why Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution provides every citizen of Ghana equal rights no matter the race, place of origin, colour, religion, creed or gender.

The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, must not hesitate to ask Hon. Simon Osei Mensah to reign or cause his dismissal to show his abhorrence to divisive comments that are inimical to our unity as a country.

Going forward, STRANEK together with other CSOs will set up a monitoring mechanism to name, shame and even consider legal action against anyone who engages in any act of ethnocentrism or tribal bigotry.

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