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Opinions of Saturday, 4 October 2014

Columnist: Amponsah, Kwame Kyeretwie

Persecution of Ashanti Businessmen Must Stop!

It has been 35 years since Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings first assumed power via a coup d’etat. He and his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) would hand over power to a popularly and democratically elected government of Dr. Hilla Limann. But 27 months later on the last day of 1981, Rawlings would return in another illegal coup d’etat and unleash a reign of terror on Ghanaians. Unfortunately, that reign also began a systematic targeting of mostly Ashanti business persons for persecution.

In addition to chronicling the times and individuals in which this systematic persecution has resulted, this is also to serve notice that the new generation Ashanti will not sit down and tolerate this persecution. Ashantis by nature are known business persons whose entrepreneurial advances have created hundreds of thousands of jobs for the very people who loathe them. Not only do these myopic persecutions destroy Ashanti business persons, they destroy jobs from which the antagonists’ own people benefit. In the end who really loses?

Painstaking investigations authoritatively reveal that Kwabena Kesse’s harassment was a calculated one by anti-Ashanti vagabonds within the Mahama administration. The known reckless political and tribal persecution that was engineered against Ashantis from the '79 through to '99 was thought to have stopped - giving way to a more free society - until the arrest and detention of one of Asante's business moguls, Kwabena Kesse (aka Kessben).

Kwabena Kesse, the managing director of KESSBEN Group of Companies was arrested and detained by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for allegedly engaging in money laundering. But at the Cocoa Affairs Court on Wednesday, August 20, 2014, all charges against Kwabena Kesse were drop by the competent court of jurisdiction. And investigations reveal that it was nothing but a needless harassment of a successful Ashanti entrepreneur.

For many, such actions by the BNI under the NDC government don't come as a surprise. It has been the stock in trade of the NDC since '81. The proponents of "The Great Ashanti Project" continue unabated to push their sinister agenda even in these contemporary times. Kessben is but one of many Ashanti businessmen and industrious son that have been vigorously targeted for persecution, their names dragged through the mud only to end in no conviction and in some cases a half-hearted apology. Purpose.

A few months ago, we witnessed the destruction of the business of Benard Antwi Boasiako (Chairman Wontumi), the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP and one of Asantes’ own. In a Rambo style, BNI under some flimsy regulatory laws but with an intent and purpose underpinned by anti-Asante sentiments raided and destroyed the small scale mining company of Boasiko, even when the Minerals Commission of Ghana had confirmed that the company has a legitimate license to operate in Ghana.

A year earlier, Mr. Tobin of Tobinco Ltd, a pharmaceutical entity, became the target of the anti-Asante BNI and was successfully destroyed and reduced to nothing for allegedly importing certain drugs that he did not have the license to import. Investigations conducted into this incident revealed that the charges were fraudulent, and were cooked up to serve the interest of certain individuals in the current NDC government who harbor hatred against Ashantis.

Lest we forget, when the NDC came to power, the anti-Asante operatives in the party went after KAAS Pharmacy – owned by another Ashanti businessman – on the premise of the company importing unauthorized chemicals, but only for the government to apologize after completely disgracing the company and its owner.

And who can forget Akenten Appiah Menka (Apino) who had his share of this brute expedition of the P-NDC. His business was grounded to a halt by the tribal bigots of the P-NDC. The Apino Company was virtually destroyed. That’s not all; we have had Asante intellectuals like the Late Prof. Akwasi Agyemang and the Late Prof. Asenso hounded out of GIMPA and University Ghana respectively by covert and over tribal persecution of the P-NDC. The anti-Ashanti operatives succeeded in tearing their hard earned reputations apart whiles pushing them out of their various institutions of engagement. They were some of the finest brains Ghana could ever have yet they were treated as non-entities just because of the hate for Ashantis. May their humble souls rest in peace.

Let’s not forget Lawyer Effah, who in 1979 was one of the first mattress manufacturers in Ghana! He was wrongfully prosecuted by the PNDC regime, left the country and only returned to die. Also a victim of the targeted persecution was Kwabena Darko. His Darko Farms which hitherto was one of the largest suppliers of poultry farm products across sub-Saharan Africa was reduced to a peasant poultry farm under the five years rule of the NDC. They have succeeded in stifling the operations of the company with anti-business regulations.

Of course the anti-Ashanti bigots reserved their worst case of targeted persecution for the EO Group, the duo that made it possible for Ghana to put its name among the league of oil producing nations. The hassle that these Ashanti intellectuals went through to get Kosmos Energy to Ghana was overlooked, but their own genuine gains from Kosmos became headache to the anti-Ashanti propagandists. They spent millions of dollars of the taxpayers' monies to persecute the EO Group with the aim of ridiculing them but to no avail. And this was even after international investigators had exonerated them from any wrong doings. The list goes on and on.

But the fact is; how can a nation develop when its illustrious sons are deliberately persecuted on the grounds of envy and hatred? How can the very people who create jobs and immensely contribute to the development of our nation – not only for Ashantis but for all Ghanaians – be targeted and vilified only because they are Ashantis? Is it not a wonder that not one of these entrepreneurs have been found guilty of any wrong doings?

Ashantis are becoming increasingly fed-up with the tribal persecution of their own by the NDC. It seems like when it comes to Ashanti business persons, the judicial standard is guilty until proven innocent, History tells us that Ashantis are capable of fighting back but have decided to remain silent just for the cohesion of our nation and its attended peace and harmony. However, the clock is ticking! "The Great Ashanti Project" has been vigorously pursued by the NDC in recent times, and hitherto, its lunatic fringe (the PNDC). They have not been successful in killing the spirit of Ashanti, and they will never be.

Some of us will continue to prick the conscious of fellow Asantes to the grand schemes that are against us. And Kwabena Kesse's case which is the latest of its kind has sparked a fire. The fortitude, resilience, tenacity and industrious qualities of our forbearers are our guide. And we will not shudder in a second to espouse and defend our three hundred-year history of entrepreneurship and integrity.

Krobea Asante Kototo; Wokum apem aa, apem beba!

Asanteman nkwaso!!!

Kwame Kyeretwie Amponsah