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Opinions of Thursday, 2 January 2014

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Is the NPP, a Truly Akan Party?

In my attempt to unravel the mystery behind the NPP's electoral defeats in 2008 and 2012, the issue of tribal politics became synonymous in almost all the reasons assigned by readers and those I engaged in private conversation. To them, the National Democracy Congress (NDC) has since 1992, used tribal card as an electoral tool, thereby deepening tribal tensions in the country. Knowing that it cannot match the NPP on competence, vision, the capacity to deliver, the NDC's available weapon is to shamelessly play on tribal sentiments.

Strategically and dangerously, the NDC has even managed to set all the Akan tribes against the Asantes and no wonder, it is winning in Brong-Ahafo, Central and Western Regions. Initially, the NDC Communicators tagged the NPP as an Akan Party, and later Asante-Akyem Party, or sometimes Asante Party. Unfortunately, the NPP seems not to have an antidote to this deadly propaganda, thus leaving residents of Ashanti and Eastern regions to their fate when it comes to the fair distribution of the national cake, including political appointments.

But, is it true that the NPP is an Akan party, and if it is, is there anything wrong with that? In fact, it beggars belief that as an Akan party, the NPP lost both the presidential and parliamentary elections in Brong-Ahafo, Central, and Western with Akan Candidates in Election 2012. Equally, it is difficult to fathom why the NDC, which abhors anything Akan, to garner over 600,000 presidential votes (representing 30% of valid votes) in Ashanti Region without an Akan Candidate. The NDC again won four (4) parliamentary seats in a region it considers as pro-Akans. If a cursory look is taken on the composition of the NDC's leadership prior to Election 2008, - Prof. Mills (flagbearer), Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (1st Vice -Chair), Spio Garbrah (2nd Vice), Asiedu Nketiah (Gen. Secretary), and Yaw Boateng Gyan (Organiser), you wonder how the NDC's propaganda machinery works among the electorate.

It is in the light of this that I have decided to bring to the attention of readers the genesis of tribal politics in Ghana. This, I hope, would go a long way in 'killing' the Akan tag which has been a bane of NPP's electoral victories in recent times. These include, but not limited to the following:

• "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).

• “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).

• "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 Trade and Industry, February 13, 2012 at a ministerial vetting).

• "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).

• "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).

• "The people of Central Region are you listening? I'm one of your own so remember me when casting your vote. "Adze wo fie a oye" - Prof. J.E.A. Mills on his campaign tour in the Central Region in 2008).

• "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).

• "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 Lamptey Vanderpuije (during the March-May 2012 Biometric Voter Registration exercise).

• "Sir John reminds me of a typical 'Kookooase Kuraseni', (villager), 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 to Sir John on October 10, 2010.

• "If any member of the opposition criticises the Mills-led administration, if you can slap him, do so" - Kofi Opoku Manu, former Ashanti Regional Minister (January 6, 2009 at the Prempeh Assembly Hall in Kumasi.

• "The NPP is a tribal Ashanti Party, not even Akan Party anymore. The Ashantis are just fulfilling the agenda of the 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).

• "Anytime you buy Apino Soap, you indirectly give money to Appiah Menka to enable him fund his political party. I expect Ghanaians to stop patronising it and we shall see where he would get the money to sponsor coup makers" - Jerry John Rawlings, (September 1987, Kumasi).

• "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).

• "If you want the Kumasi Shoe Factory to be revived, then stop eating "kawuro" (hides)" - Jerry Rawlings to Ashantis in June 1988).

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

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

In spite of the above tribal statements, Jerry Rawlings masterminded the killings of three (3) High Court Judges, and two (2) former Heads of State all of Akan decent, particularly Asantes between 1979 and 1982. Today, Ashanti is the only region out of the 10 in Ghana that has been chosen for the NDC's Capitation for the healthcare delivery. Though, the so-called Capitation was a one-year pilot scheme, the piloting is entering its 3rd year with no sign of making it operational in all the regions. The Capital, Kumasi, which was once an envy to other West African cities has lost its fame as the Garden City. This is because, several development projects left by the previous NPP government have become white elephant. The former City Hotel, Jute Factory, Affordable Houses at Asokore Mampong, and Sofoline Interchange are clear cases in point. The Kejetia Terminal is an eyesore, the Kumasi-Accra Trunk road has been abandoned, not to talk about the Kumasi airport.

Fellow citizens, these are the hard truths which the NPP needs to point out to Ghanaians. The choice of a Flagbearer from the North in itself would not be sufficient to remove the Akan tag on NPP. We need to be more accommodating to all tribes, especially in our actions and speeches; we need to nurture the young ones to take responsible positions in our party. The current situation, where the highest bidder is given the nod is killing the ambition of brilliant, but poor young guys from other tribes.

In conclusion, I urge all Ghanaians to shun the NDC's tribal politics. The ordinary 'kayaye' (head potter), iced water seller, or truck pusher, who out of ignorance, votes on tribal lines is the one who suffers most when an incompetent and visionless government fails to solve their problems. I, for instance, have stopped passing through the Kejetia terminal after seeing countless of vulnerable girls sleeping in front of stores and pavements with their babies in the night. Couldn't the monies wasted in the name of SADA, GYEEDA, SUBAH. Akonfem, Woyome, Waterville, CP etc be used to remove these innocent girls from the streets? I pray that Ghanaians would vote for a competent and visionary leader without regard to his/her tribal allegiance, come 2016.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri (Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: ( 0202471070 : 0264931361 : 0547851100