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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Columnist: Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang

Ethnocentric statements; My take

Former Deputy Minister for Agriculture, William Quaitoo Former Deputy Minister for Agriculture, William Quaitoo

The backlashes against the Member of Parliament for Akim Oda, who doubles as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Hon. William Quaitto for his degrading and demeaning statement on Dagombas in particular, and Northerners as a whole is a clear indication of our collective resolve to do away with stereotyping and any form of tribalism.

Tribalism, no doubt, has devastating effects on peace and development and therefore, it is not out of place for any rational being to condemn the statement made by the Dep. Agric. Minister and call for his resignation from his position.

Whilst supporting the clarion call for his removal from office by HE, the President, permit to also commend Hon. Quaitto for the timely retraction of the statement and the unconditional apology rendered. That is the way to go, because to err, they say, is human. It is thus expected that those who have been emotionally hurt by this unguarded statement from the Dep. Minister would have a special place in their heart and forgive him since he has shown remorse.

Moving forward, I would like to make the following proposals:

• First, all Ghanaians, especially politicians, must desist from making ethnocentric statements henceforth.

• Those who make ethnocentric statements must suffer the penalty for it. For instance, if the person holds a public office, he must be forced to resign.

• No ethnic group should sit back or put up defence when other tribes are being attacked just because the person making the reckless statement is one of their own. In other words, we should have the same courage and voice to fight those who make ethnocentric statements in our political discourse.

For instance, if people calling on the head of the Dep. Minister today could have mastered the same courage to condemn the following personalities when Asantes and other tribes were previously attacked, I believe Hon. Quaitto would have thought twice before opening his mouth.

1. “Every shameless act related to politics comes from the Ashanti Region. They have gained more notoriety when it comes to politics. Every ill-fated political demonstration is coming from them and nothing good seems to come from the region. Had it not been for their recognized and well-respected King, they would be insulted all the time” - Solomon Nkansah, Communications Director of NDC - (June 24, 2015).

1. "Our brother Aliu Mahama was Vice President for 8 years. I was Vice President for 3 and half years. For almost 12 years, we have tasted vice presidency. It's no more exciting. It's no longer what we want. If the NPP wants to win here, they should make Bawumia their presidential candidate and let the two of us contest and then they will get something from here" - John Dramani Mahama (at a mini rally in Zualerugu, U/E Region - 10th Nov, 2012).

2. “…there is an Akan proverb which says, no matter how nice the dance of the fowl is, it never impresses the hawk – when the fowl dances for the hawk, the hawk never finds it beautiful…don't let this deter us because for you in Kumasi, even if we construct roads tarred with gold, you will still say we've done nothing.” - President Mahama (May 6, 2014 in Kumasi)

3. "Mr. Samuel Sarpong, may I know from you if other ethnic groups, particularly those from the Northern and Volta extraction are safe and will be safe under your tenure as the Ashanti Regional Minister" - Haruna Iddrisu, MP for Tamale South and Minister of Labour & Emloyment, 13 February, 2012 during a ministerial vetting).

4. "Politics is polarised and ethnically divided and that the Great Ashanti project is terrifying. President Kufuor is an ethnic Ashanti, as are many at the top levels of his government. He would try to hold the country together, but the time comes when the people you lead take over" - John Atta Mills, Wikileaks report in 2011).

5. "Because John Agyekum Kufuor is an Ashanti and does not come from the coastal area, that is why he has built all the best cold stores in Kumasi. He does not care for coastal fisherfolk" - John Atta Mills, September, 2008 in Central Region).

6. "If today I come to you as president, it's because you made it possible. Indeed, this region is my second home" - Prof. Mills (on a three-day visit to the Volta Region in April 2009).

7. "No individual with an Akan name will be allowed to register here. Odododiodio is for Gas so anyone with Akan name could go to his native area to register" - Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuije (during the March-May 2012 Biometric registration).

8. "Sir John reminds me of a typical 'Kookooase Kuraseni'. I mean he stayed in Kumasi too long, he is in Accra now, and he should broaden his horizon. Whenever he comes from Kumasi he should take a different touch or else he would be lost and now he is telling us he is lost…he should shed that image and look at things from a broader perspective" - Kobby Acheampong, (18/10/10) on his reaction to Sir John's disagreement with Grade B given to Atta Mills on his performance as president).

9. "The NPP is a tribal Ashanti Party, not even Akan Party anymore. The Ashantis are just fulfilling the agenda of those who truly founded the party. It's an Ashanti agenda. I'm so surprised that the Northerners, Ewes, and Gas in the party would sit unconcerned and pretend this is not an issue and would come out to defend it" - Benjamin Akyena Brentuo, NDC Communications Team member (on Ekosii s3n programme, Asempa FM; August 11, 2012).

10. "Ashantis are deliberately sabotaging the purpose of the family planning programme. They are producing children with the sole aim of fuelling their population for political purpose" - Jerry John Rawlings, (August 1985, Accra).

11. "The source of Asante wealth is as result of thievery and corruption" - Jerry Rawlings.

12. "Volta Region deserved a change because we have not fared well at all. In the last 8 years, we were made to feel like 2nd class citizens - Togbe Afede, April 18, 2009.

13. “Thank you for your patience and tolerance. Let me take this opportunity to assure all Voltarians that every effort will be made to ensure your safety so far as the NDC remains in power". John Mahama at a Ceremony in Volta Region to initiate €40m Urban Management project, August 6, 2012).

14. "We have a president who is our brother and our father, we have a president who grew up in Tamale, and rode bicycles through Nobisco, to Tamale Senior High School and actually Ghana Secondary school which I also attended. So you see he is very passionate not only about the developments in Ghana but issues affecting Northern region. It is not as if he is bias because he is from the North but because he knows when he retires he will come home, and that is why it is incumbent upon us to vote for him, sometimes when you say this people think you are being partisan and political, when I was growing up I realised that we Northerners don’t like each other". - Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North - July 26, 2016

Let's all say no to tribal politics and ethnocentric statements.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Nana Akufo-Addo!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang

Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri

"Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success"