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General News of Saturday, 8 February 2003

Source: Network Herald

NPP Chairman Upsets Dead MPs Family

The occasional unguided effusions of (NPP) chairman Harruna Esseku (pictured)- obviously a source of worry to government and party stalwarts since he assumed office close to two years - seem to have been given another dimension with what is being described as an insensitive statement by him on the death of Mr. John Achuliwor, Deputy Minister of Communications and Technology and MP for Navrongo Central.

The family and the people of Navrongo have been angered by Mr. Esseku’s political games and call to the family and electorate in the constituency to regard the retention of the constituency in the name of the ruling NPP as the greatest tribute they can pay to the memory of the late MP.

A family source told yours truly in an interview “it is an insult to our custom and traditions for people to talk about succession while even the date for the funeral rites have not yet been fixed.”

The family’s position is that Mr. Esseku was violating the norms and practices of the people he was addressing by considering a successor to a throne or any position of a deceased for that matter, whilst the family is yet to fix a date for funeral arrangements. ”It is unacceptable for a party that our brother had served dutifully to forget him so soon and rather fight for the booty, if any.”

Another family member questioned whether the “ NPP chairman is mourning with us or interested in the seat,” and stressed that the electorate voted for the late MP as a candidate and not the NPP per se. His advice to the party was to “allow the family to mourn the death of the light of the family.” It is alleged that the NPP chairman in a statement to express the party’s condolences on the sudden death of the MP urged the family and the constituent to retain the seat for the party as a tribute to his memory.

This has apparently touched raw nerves among Mr. Achuliwor’s family in particular, some NPP Executives in Navrongo and a cross section of Ghanaians who have condemned the statement and called for a retraction. The family in particular noted “the chairman has demonstrated a high sense of insensitivity, disrespect for customs and insulted the sensibility of the family.”

The family has also expressed concern about moves by the party to turn the solemn funeral which has been fixed for March 1, 2003 into political rally to demonstrate and test the party’s popularity in the areas and then launch the campaign to recapture the seat. The family source said high-powered party executives both from the national and regional offices had called on the family with attractive packages for the funeral ceremony and have requested that the family allow the party to play an active role in the funeral celebration.

He said, “Even as we mourn and grieve over his death, it is important to remind ourselves that we can avoid many of the unpleasant experiences we inflict upon ourselves, if we maintain discipline at all times and at all levels.” The MP died at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital on Wednesday, January 29 this year from injuries he sustained in a road accident last Saturday, January 25, 2003 while on his way to Bolgatanga. He was 49. The accident occurred a few kilometres to Ejisu, near Kumasi.

The driver of the vehicle conveying him to his constituency died on the spot while the Deputy Minister who fell into coma was flown in a helicopter to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. The third person who was in the car is still on admission at the hospital. Mr. Achuliwor, who is survived by a wife and four children, attended the Bawku Secondary School and Navrongo Saint John Bosco Training College.

He entered the University of Cape of Coast for a preliminary science course and obtained a Diploma in Education and a Bachelor of Science (Agric). Mr. Achuliwor proceeded to the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and obtained his Master of Science (Agronomy). He later obtained a Post-Graduate Certificate on Rural Poverty Alleviation from the University of Manchester.

He worked as a programme Officer with Reseau Ghaneen, a freelance consultant and later as the Programme Manager for Action Aid (Tamale Peri). Meanwhile Mr. Abdulai Otuti Achuliwor, a brother of the deceased, has expressed his thanks for the visit of the delegation. He said the family would meet to organise a fitting burial for Mr. Achuliwor about which the government would be informed.