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Opinions of Friday, 15 January 2010

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

A “Better Ghana” promise turns to A “Better Volta” Agenda

In recent times, many a Ghanaian have written about the dangers of ethnicity and tribalism in the Ghanaian media networks, but it seems all the pieces of advice given by these writers have fallen on death ears of the powers that be. As Conelius Cacho opines; “tribalism directly affects the quality of governance, is conducive to corruption, negatively impacts the availability of investment finance, prevents thousands of skilled indigenes from returning home and encourages many who are trained in the country to emigrate”. In a nutshell, tribalism could lead to civil wars which consume resources, slaughter people, destroy infrastructure, discourage investments and consequently inhibit economic development. Taking Conelius advice into consideration, it behoves on any patriotic citizen to do his utmost best to shun tribalism in any form, at any day and at any point in time. It is therefore ludicrous to see the silence on the part of Ghanaians on the Mills’ political appointments with regard to the gradual ethnic superimposition in our body politic which the erstwhile Kufuor government attempted to bring under control. A cursory examination of the appointments made by the president over the past 12 months reveals that over 50 personalities in the Volta Region alone have been assigned to almost all the sensitive positions in the economy to the neglect of other regions.

But Ghana, like most countries in Africa is multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. The 2000 population and housing census puts Ghana’s population at 18.4 million and the predominant group is the Akan with a population of 8,562,748 representing 49.1%. Out of this figure 14.8% are Asantes, Fantes (9.9%), Brong (4.6%), Akyem (3.4%), Akuapem (2.9%) with Denkyira, Nzema, Akwamu, Ahanta, Kwahu, Sefwi, Aowin, Wassa making the rest of the percentage. The Mole-Dagbani comes second with a population of 2,883,931 representing 16.5%. Then comes the Ewe, together with Nkonya, Tafi, Logba, Sontrokfi, Lolobi and Likpe with 2,212,113 people representing 11.7%, the Ga-Adangbe with 1,387,217 (8.0%), the Guan with 758,779 (4.4%), the Gurma with 678,681 (3.9%), the Grusi with 490,379 (2.8%), the Mande-Busanga with 193,443 (1.1%) and the others with accumulatively 269,302 (1.5%) members of the population. (Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) 2000.

Fellow compatriots, permit me to quote one of the ‘VAT free’ promises of President Mills in January last year to substantiate my argument. “Our success in accomplishing the agenda for change will be measured by the extent to which we realise the vision for a better Ghana where opportunities are available to all our people and where Ghana’s prosperity will reach all and not just a few”. (President Mills’ Inaugural Speech to Parliament on January 7, 2009). It was therefore the expectation of all and sundry that the above data, the president’s promise as well as Article 79 (1) of the 1992 Republican Constitution would guide the president in his political appointments to ensure that there was not only regional balance, but also ethnic and religious balance to reflect the entirety of Ghanaian multi-ethnic society. However, one could logically attest to the fact that the current NDC administration is dominated by one particular tribe and this is a resemblance of the 19-year dictatorial rule of J.J Rawlings which made Ghana’s economic progress suffer for nearly 20 years. But as to whether Ghanaians are behaving like cowards or deliberately turning a blind eye on this very delicate issue is still a mystery for all of us to unravel. It is in the light of this that I produce below a list of the Ewe appointees from the Volta Region for public consumption. In this way, readers could form their own opinions on the partiality/impartiality of the man who had prophesized to be the so-called ‘father of all’ Ghanaians.

1. Gbevlo-Lartey – National Security Co-ordinator

2. Kofi Awoonor – Chairman of Council of State

3. Victor Smith – Chief of State Protocol

4. Kofi Portophy – National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO)

5. Victor Gbeho – Chief Advisor to John Mills

6. Koku Anyidohu – Head of Communications Directorate

7. Yaw Donkor – Head of Bureau of National Investigations (BNI)

8. Sylvester Mensah – Chief Executive of National Health Insurance Scheme

9. Kwame Ampofo – Managing Director of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR)

10. Akua Sena Dansua – Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs

11. Joe Gidisu – Minister of Roads and Highways cum Chairman of Road Fund Board

12. Juliana Azumah-Nelson – Minister of Tourism

13. Brigadier Gen. Partington – Head of Army

14. Squadron Ldr. Clend Sowu – Chairman of Electricity Corporation

15. Justice Amegashie – CEO of DVLA

16. J.B. Kwabla Aheto – Chairman of National Media Commission

17. Ludwig Hlordze - Minister of State at the Presidency

18. Capt. Beatrice Vormawor – Head of Maritime Safety Division

19. Brigadier Gen. (Rtd) Wallace Gbedemah – Special Assistant to the president

20. Commodore Christian Edem K. Dovlo – Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre

21. Brigadier Gen. Martin K.G. Ahiaglo – Gen. Officer commanding the southern command of the Ghana Army

22. Sallas Mensah – CEO of the School Feeding Programme 23. Naval Capt. (Rtd) Kwadjo Buta – Chairman, Trade Fair Company 24. Biadelah Mortey Akpadzi – Executive Director, Serious Fraud Office 25. Regina Mawusi Yovonoo – State Insurance Corporation 26. Sylvia Ahulu – Ghana Supply Company

27. Thomas F.K. Senya – State Housing Company Ltd.

28. Nancy Ampopfo – Agricultural Development Bank

29. James Avedzi – Chairman, Parliamentary Select-Committee on Finance

30. General (Rtd) Arnold Quainoo – Special Assistant to the president (MOD)

31. Doe Adjaho - First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Head of Appointments Committee

32. Bridget Katsriku – Public Service Commission

33. Brig-Gen. E.C. Quist – Director Gen. Personnel Administration

34. Col. J.K. Kloblodu – Dir-Gen. Plans and Development

35. Col. B.K. Klu – Dir. Gen. Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

36. Commodore Biekro – Chief of Staff at General Navy Headquarters

37. Air Cdre C.G. Gamadeku – Chief of Staff at Air Force Headquarters

38. Chris Kpodo – Dep. Minister of Foreign Affairs

39. Seth Tekpeh – Dep. Minister of Finance

40. John Gyetuah – Dep. Minister of Trade

41. Kofi Wampah – First Dep. Governor of Bank of Ghana 42. Alex Sebgefia – Deputy Chief of Staff

43. Fiifi Kweetey – Dep. Minister of Finance 44. Dzifa Aku Attivor – Dep. Minister of Transport

45. Samuel Okudzeto – Dep. Minister of Information 46. Togbui Afede – Head of Castle Finance Committee and member of BOG

47. Ford H. Kamel – Dep. Minister of Lands and Forest Resources

48. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah – Dep. Minister of local Government

49. Hannah Bisiw – Dep. Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing

50. Joseph Amenowode – Volta Regional Minister

51. Col. (Rtd) Cyril Necku – Dep. Volta Regional Minister

52. J.J Rawlings – Founder of National Diabolic Congress (NDC)

53. Kwabena Adjei – Chairman of National Disappointed Congress (NDC)

54. Albert Fiadjoe – Chairman of Constitutional Review Committee

Ladies and gentlemen, I must stress that the list is inconclusive so do not exhaust your patience. Currently the Armed Forces, the Prisons Service, the Immigration Service, the Fire Service, the civil and public services are all being packed with the people from the Volta Region at the expense of other regions. Besides, a significant number of Ewes in the diaspora have been secretly advised to return home to occupy some positions in the country. The ‘Kwaku Vis’, the ‘Efos’, and the ‘Daavis’ are now being given red carpet treatment whilst equally, other full-blooded and qualified Ghanaians are being sidelined. Therefore the question I pose is; for how long should we tolerate President Mills’ politics of tribal and ethnic discrimination whilst the ‘ecomini’ continues to deteriorate under his nose? Is it a question of Ghana lacking quality human resource to the extent of leaving her destiny in the hands of ‘bootlickers’, novices, arrogant and uncouth guys like the Kweteys, Anyidohus, Okudzetos, Larteys and Smiths? “Y3noaa no s3n na amene”? Could somebody honestly tell any positive contribution(s) of the above-named individuals to the development of the country? Where are the competent administrators, technocrats, tried and tested politicians, professionals and scholars from the other nine regions including the Central, Upper West and Brong-Ahafo and why can’t we find such names in the national football teams – the Black Starlets, the Black Satellites, the Black Meteors and the Black Stars? To give meaning to his tribalistic sentiments, President Mills declared the Volta Region as his second home during his so-called ‘thank you’ tour in the region. He further told the self-imposed ‘Kingmakers’ that he had appointed Joe Gidisu as Minister of Roads and Highways to ensure that all roads in the Volta Region were given a facelift. As I write this piece, the Volta Region has been earmarked for the construction and implementation of a number of development projects such as a public university, Nurses’ Training College, an airport, among others. What about the other regions like the Western, Eastern and Brong-Ahafo? In addition, most of the stolen imported cars are being distributed to party functionaries in the region. To me, there is no problem in putting up the above-mentioned projects in the Volta Regions. My concern however, is the way the national cake is being shared. Ghana as we all know is sustained by agricultural wealth and mineral wealth. This is clearly symbolised by the colours of the national flag – Red, Gold, and Green with the Black Stars at the centre. It is the; cocoa, timber, coffee, foodstuffs as well as gold, diamond, manganese and bauxite that sustain Ghana’s economy but not ‘Keta school boys’. The big question is; which regions in Ghana produce the bulk of our wealth? Is it the Volta Region or the Western Region? And has the president been fair to the people of Western, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern, Central Regions and the three Northern Regions in terms of the distribution of the national cake? “Mpanin se, nea wapoto amono afe no, onkyiri s3 ode bomu bi”.

President Mills secured 630,899 and 479,749 votes in the Volta and Ashanti Regions respectively in the 2008 presidential elections. This was an indication that, without the Ashanti votes (2nd highest), there was no way the hitherto four time-defeated presidential candidate of the National Disappointed Congress (NDC) could hold the highest office of the land. As the adage says, what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.

We cannot sit down and fold our alms whilst Ghana teeters to the verge and brink of collapse all because of bad leadership. The time has come to change the shape and direction of this dear country of ours in terms of managing its affairs and have a capable and a visionary leader that will lift our aspirations and ensure that there is equitable distribution of the national cake, taking into consideration individual regional contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ghana is a country with inspiring history and every effort should be made at all times to preserve her corporate, sovereign, cultural and political heterogeneity and composition. It is our dearest nation and nothing should dissuade or discourage us to tread along the path of natural justice. We are all Ghanaians and we all have equal rights and responsibilities to protect our beloved nation against false ideologies and disruptive forces without any ethnic superimpositions. The ear of the leader, according to Woodrow Wilson, must ring with the voices of the people. It is thus imperative for the captain of ‘Team B’ to overhaul the current appointments and replace them with the ‘Team A’ to make our lives better in the coming years. Ghana with her 22 million people should not be used as a laboratory for conducting unnecessary experiments. As Peter Drucker puts it; “there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”.

I am by this piece appealing to all Ghanaians, especially the civil society, the media, Parliament, the Judiciary, NUGS, the labour associations, public and civil servants, traditional and religious leaders, farmers, traders, businessmen, political parties and professional associations with the exception of the Council of State, to intervene to save mother Ghana from further polarization along tribal lines. In fact, my appeal excludes the Council of State led by Kofi Awonoor simply because it will be a waste of my precious time as this important body has proven to be a ‘toothless bulldog’ which only barks but cannot bite. Where was the Council of State when a sitting Vice President - the late Mr. Kow Nkensen Arkaah was subjected to severe beatings by Mr. J.J. Rawlings at a cabinet meeting in the late nineties? Again, where was the Council of State when His Excellency, John Agyekum Kufuor awarded himself with a state medal in 2008? And where is the Council of State at this present time when human rights abuses are on the increase to the extent that people are being stripped naked and made to parade on the principal streets in Bawku whilst teenagers are being raped by security officers, where political opponents are being harassed and intimidated? Is this not sickening? Is this not a national shame? Is that how a Professor leadership should be?

The patience of majority of Ghanaians has been stretched to its elastic limit and there is no spare room to accommodate the use of tribal card of public office holders to satisfy their whims and caprices. We cannot pretend to ignore the fact that the domination of one particular ethnic group in the key sectors of the economy for 19 years did not only propel Ghana to opt for HIPC initiative in the ensuing yea,r but also the taxpayer’s money was shamefully spent on convicts like the late Victor Selomey, Dan Abodakpi, Tatsu Tsikata etc in the prisons for wilfully causing huge financial losses to the state. The stolen money by these thieves and economic murderers could have been used for the construction of at least three public universities or the Keta Sea Defence wall and Aveyime Rice project which were only made possible by the NPP under H.E. J.A. Kufuor. Have we forgotten so soon how Togbe Afedi, who has been made what he is today by President Kufuor had the gut to show his ingratitude to the NPP government after his people had enjoyed all the pro-poor policies implemented by the NPP? Similarly, the position of Doe Adjaho as the Head of Appointments Committee in Parliament legalised a significant number of ‘mediocre’, ‘sycophants’ and more importantly ‘greedy bastards’, (courtesy J.J. Rawlings et al) into positions of trust and the negative effect of this error of judgement is there for all Ghanaians to see. So why do we have to repeat the same mistakes to make Ghanaians suffer? Once bitten twice shy, so goes the adage.

In winding up, I would advise President Mills to ensure that he keeps the nation as unified and strong as when the political baton was handed to him, if indeed he has no better economic policy to improve upon the legacy of the NPP under ex-President Kufuor. The truth must be told regardless of the consequences and as Noam Chomski posits, “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies”. This, I believe I have done and will continue to do as an intellectual until equal rights and justice are entrenched in the country. The so-called “better Ghana” promise should never to be seen to favour a particular region or tribe as Ghanaians are witnessing at the moment. We all have the talents and it is incumbent on the president to give all Ghanaians equal opportunity to make a positive contribution to the socio-economic development of mother Ghana. Together we stand, divided we fall. God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Hull. UK 07944309859