Deputy Agric Minister, William Quaitoo, is begging Ghanaians, particularly people of the north, to forgive his “unguarded” tribal comments.
Mr. Qauitoo in a live radio interview, described northerners as “difficult people” while reacting to complaints from farmers in the area, on how their farms have been destroyed by the fall armyworm and subsequent appeal for some form of compensation.
The Minister, who was responding to complaints from farmers in the area in an interview said: “If anybody who is in the north and said his farm was destroyed by fall armyworm, the person must prove it. Our brothers (in the North) it is so difficult to deal with them. I lived there for 27 years, I speak Dagbani like a Dagomba and all that.
“They are very difficult people. Nobody can substantiate. If anybody says that his farm was destroyed by armyworm, the person would have to come and prove it. We have no records of that. It’s just a way of taking money from the government: that’s what they do all the time…,” he said on Starr FM.
“We have two of our ministers being northerners and they are big-time farmers and there is no record of that”, he emphasized.
The comments, drew a sharp condemnation from Ghanaians, some of whom demanded his dismissal.
But hours later, Mr. Quaitoo, issued an apology and retraction claiming he did not think about the possible consequences of his comments.
Read the full statement below:
APOLOGY AND RETRACTION OF STATEMENT
During an interview with Star FM on Thursday 25 August 2017 on Fall Army Worm (FAW) invasion of farms, I unconsciously said that “the people of the North are difficult people, I lived with them, and I know them. This is just to take money from the Government.”
I UNRESERVEDLY, RETRACT AND APOLOGIZE SINCERELY FOR THIS UNFORTUNATE STATEMENT AND PRAY ALL AND SUNDRY TO FORGIVE ME ON THIS SCORE.
Yes, I lived in Northern Region for 27 years and had all my formative years there. I often pride myself as a Dagomba and identify with them at all times. I cannot there consciously spite them.
Based on my past experience on Farmer Based projects, I meant to say some farmers can be difficult as it is with all Regions.
The question posed to me was whether the Agric. Ministry will compensate farmers who claim to have lost their investment due to FAW invasion. I answered that destruction of farms by FAW in the north was something I could not comprehend unless it is physically proven. This is because the north has only one planting season and this begins in June. In June, the Ministry had prepared fully (chemicals, training and human resources) to treat any farm that will be infested with FAW. So I expect that no such report will come from real farmers from the north if they really follow the defined FAW regime of the Ministry. I concluded that any farmer who reported and proved any losses to FAW will be attended to by the Ministry.
I thank all and sundry who follow my works and actions and pointed out this mistake to me. I ONCE AGAIN, SINCERELY RETRACT AND APOLOGIZE FOR MY UNGUARDED STATEMENT.
I urge you all to continue to correct.