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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

The NPP’s bogus Akan tag

Orangeburg, SC

The NPP does not have an Akan problem—it has a communication problem.
It is sad testament to the NPP’s communication deficits that the NDC, the party conceived and born by the PNDC which overthrew the last elected Northern President; Dr. Hilla Limann can successfully accuse us of being anti-north.
This charge should offend every Ghanaian. My membership of the NPP was inspired by the bravely and conduct of two non-Akans, Sam Okudjeto and late Ala Adjetey. These men were intellectual and political giants who exemplified to me the best aspects of citizenship and nationalism.

The NDC, which has given half of its six Presidential nominations to an Akan, President Mills—accuses the NPP of being an Akan party. Did President Mills hail from Yagaba-Kabore? Was he the brother of the Tolon Na?
Is the NDC’s longest-serving General Secretary, Asiedu Nketia from Tamale?
Whenever the Akan issue is raised, the NPP agonizes. Indeed, some NPP members have contributed in diverse ways to the growth of this myth. In 1998, as President Kufuor moved towards his re-nomination, there were urgent whispers, by prominent Ashantis, that an Ashanti was not electable as a President of Ghana because “other tribes do not like Ashantis”. And yet, once he was nominated, he went on to win two terms, decisively defeating President Mills in the Central Region and winning the largely non-Akan Greater -Accra. The masses of Central Region, Greater-Accra and other regions were asserting that they would vote for a good candidate, regardless of his/her ethnicity. Unfortunately, following the results of the last elections, the Akan tag has resurfaced. Indeed, even good NPP members have used that as an excuse for our defeat. Some have claimed, strangely that “poor Fantis in the coastal areas did not want to vote for an Akyem” Really? The very Fantis who happily voted for Kufuor against their own Mills would not vote for someone because he is Akyem? What nonsense.
Another way that some NPP leaders contribute to this false tag is to speak Twi in situations where communication in English may be more appropriate.
Furthermore, when in the heat of political exchanges, some of our members make ethnocentric comments, our hesitancy in condemning them on the grounds of party solidarity fuels the myth of our Akan-centredness.
We should stop apologizing for who we are and defend our broad non-ethnic party from those tearing it down.
We are the tradition formed from the Northern Peoples’ Party , the Ga Shifimokpee and parties in the Volta region and we are Akan-centred? The late Dombo and Obetsebi would be outraged about that charge.
We are the party that built the Bole-Bamboi road while the Accra-Kumasi road languished and we are an Akan party?
We are the party that built the Keta Sea Defense wall and we are anti-Ewe?
We used to be the party of Togbe Afedze and we are anti-Volta Region?
The founder of the NDC, former President Rawlings is happily married to an Ashanti Nana Konadu, even while the party he created bashes Ashantis and we cannot fight back? Was it not Nana Konadu, the Akan, who designed their party’s Akatamanso symbol? Have you heard Mr. Rawlings call his wife before? “Nana!!” The man is in love and rightly so.
The President who urged the North to vote for him on ethnic grounds is happily married to Lordinia from Nkoransa in Brong-Ahafo and we cannot call him out for his opportunistic ethnic bashing?
Nana Addo, the man who supposedly embodies our Akan centeredness is happily married to the Dangbe Rebecca from Ningo-Prampram and we cannot persuade people that he is not an ethnic bigot? Tweaaaa!!!!
This divisive Ashanti versus Ewe and this versus that ethnic group arguments should be passé. We should use our best talents regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion or age. When Virginia was giving America most of its Presidents, nobody complained. And when Bill Clinton from little Arkansas showed up, he was elected—not as a token to small states but as the best candidate—on merit.
The NPP and indeed Ghana must continue to build a society in which a person’s station depends on his skills and his/her contributions to our country. That is why we elected Ala Adjetey and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey as NPP Chairpersons—because they were the best candidates at that time.
We should follow the example of Central Region and Greater Accra and vote for the best Ghanaians, regardless of where they come from.
Let us move forward—together.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy