By Mike Segbafah
No! It is not the case that Hon. Ayikoi Otoo’s past mistakes or wrong doings are now the cause of his present predicaments. Rather, as St. Paul stated in his highly articulate pastoral letter to his Church in I Corinthians Ch: 13 v.11, one would say that, Nii Ayikoi’s recent lamentation about OSTRACISM in the NPP is a case of quote When I was a child I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I became a man my thoughts grew far beyond those of my childhood, and now I have put away the childish things unquote. Ref: The New Testament- Living Bible Edition, 1997.
Simply put, Nii Ayikoi Otoo has just decided to “call a spade a spade’’ . He has now abandoned double standard and the pretext to maintain the status quo, no matter the resultant unpleasantness. Hon. Ayikoi’s recently reported statement or declaration that “non-Akans in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are ostracized in their Party’’ is the basis of the question posed in the title of this Article. The Pauline quotation and brief discourse seek to elucidate his motivations to open up on this scabby subject.
Of course, ostracism means exclusion or rejection of one section of a group by the other(s) of same group; also discrimination against members of other groups- be it in a local, national or international comity of nations. Typical manifestations of ostracism range from negative signs and symptoms; real or perceived negative attitudes-snubs, cold shoulder, etc; derogatory utterances, concrete negative actions with strong parochial, ethnic, racist undertones, etc. Nii Ayikoi’s statement is, therefore, very loaded.
Readers, no doubt, remember that Hon. Ayikoi Otoo is one of the four (4) Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General who served in President Kufuor’s 8-year Govt. Currently, Mr. Otoo is the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the NPP. His latest public duty on behalf of the NPP was his brilliant but unsuccessful defence of the General Secretary of the NPP, Mr. Kodwo Owusu – Afriyie, alias Sir John, when the latter was arraigned before the Supreme Court on criminal contempt charges in the recent Election Petition hearings.
Hon. Ayikoi Otoo is, therefore, not a “small’’ man in the NPP. His evaluation of happenings and goings-on in his Party and his subsequent pronouncements must deservedly command the attention, respect and deep scrutiny by all politically savvy Ghanaians; in particular, open-minded Youth and discerning eligible voters in national elections.
Indeed, it is not far-fetched and presumptuous to state that Mr. Ayikoi Otoo’s reported admission of ostracism of non- Akans in the NPP simply demonstrates in microcosm the deep- seated and widely held perceptions, beliefs and actual experiences of the wider non- Akan Ghanaian populace nationwide.
In other words, Nii Ayikoi’s lamentation is a vivid encapsulation of the highly SKEWED national politics and governance Ghanaians have witnessed and /or actually experienced under NPP. And more so, the experiences of non- Akans under the Danquah – Busia tradition and the two Administrations that tradition has had during the past 56years after Ghana’s independence in March, 1957. These experiences eloquently bespeak Nii Ayikoi’s lamentations, and will be discussed in detail presently.
Nana Ohene Ntow’s Eye- Opener And Implications
Interestingly, the non-Akan ostracism in the NPP, as contended by Mr. Otoo, took a curious twist when it was alleged that Nana Ohene Ntow, a former General Secretary of the NPP wanted to know those “Akans” engaged in ostracism against non-Akans in their Party. As Nana Ntow hails from Larte and, therefore, a Guan, is it the case that some Akans like him now wish to declare their specific identities within the broad generic Akan nomenclature so as, perhaps, to distance themselves from the unpleasant tag of discrimination against non-Akans within their Party and in the wider constituency of non-Akan Ghanaians nationwide?
Similarly, is it also the case that the other “minority” Akan groups – namely, Ahantas, Fantis, Efutus, Brongs, Kwahus, Akwapims, etc – are also now asserting their individual identities in order to stem the collateral damage they suffer as a result of NPP’s electoral defeats and other short comings attributable to the Party? The continuous and significant shifts in voting patterns and actual electoral results in favour of the NDC in Brong Ahafo, Central, Western and parts of Eastern Region in 2008 and 2012 seem to confirm this assertion.
To lend more substance to Nana Ntow’s desire to know the ostracists among them, it is instructive to note that the said ostracism within the NPP is believed to be practised largely by the two dominant groups or subsets – Ashantis and Akyems – within the broad Akan hegemony. It is further believed that these dominant groups or subsets always lay claim to a nebulous “divine right” to rule the Nation Ghana “at all costs.”
This phantom obsession and self- delusion are deemed to be largely responsible for the persistent and deep-seated unwillingness of these two dominant groups to give fair and equal opportunity and the needed political space to other ethnic groups and their own smaller kindred Akan groups within their Party to compete effectively for the top positions in national politics and governance.
Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is that all politically conscious, sovereign and freedom- loving peoples everywhere abhor discrimination and marginalization-be it within the same ethnic group or race; or within the larger nation state. Ostracism and marginalization are particularly abhorrent and dangerous if practised as alleged by ethnic groups that are deemed not only self- righteous and parochial, but also highly self-serving and predisposed to a supercilious claim to a “divine right’’ to rule.
It is, therefore, just and proper that a Political Party that is not only perceived but has consistently demonstrated that it is discriminatory and clannish even against large segments of their own Party members, and minority kindred groups should continue to be UNLOVED by sections of their own members; and, more so , by the larger constituency of Ghanaians nationwide.
A classic example of this blatant ostracism and discrimination against non-Akans is the case of the late Vice President (VP), Alieu Mahama, a Northerner. Former President Kufuor himself (and many other NPP members too) attested very eloquently to the late VP’s excellent performance, loyalty and forthrightness in office, both at his funeral in 2012 and at the VP’s recent inaugural Memorial Lecture in Accra on 13th November, 2013. In spite of the VP’s excellent record, the NPP ignominiously sidelined and literally shoved him aside in favour of Nana Akufo-Addo, an Akyem, in their presidential flagbearership race in 2008. Unsurprisingly, President Kufuor refused to support his own acknowledged, effective and dedicated Vice President to succeed him in that race. Because Alieu was a Dagomba from northern Ghana!
Dr. Bawumia And The NPP
Ironically, the late Vice President continued to be slighted and sidelined even in death by his own kith and kin from the North, all in the tradition of the NPP. Indeed, Dr. Bawumia’s infra dig performance at the said inaugural Memorial Lecture took the shine and reverence from an august and solemn function that was intended to celebrate the life and work of Alieu Mahama in public office. Dr. Bawumia’s badly- timed and ill-situated political diatribe against the Govts of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah through to President John Mahama’s and his highly questionable and biased account of the political economy of Ghana are a veritable desecration of the late Vice President’s commemoration and his entire life contribution to national politics and governance in Ghana.
Dr. Bawumia completely blighted the only shining spot, Alieu Mahama, in the Kufuor administration during most of its dark days of continuous gargantuan scandals, from Hotel Waa Waa / Jezel Yatze, Bambagate, Essekugate, decimation and sale of Ghana Airways and Ghana telecom; captive auction of Accra lands / state bungalows to dishonourable Amoateng’s imprisonment, spiriting away three Dzorwulu drug women, general suffocating cocainocracy, among others.
Would Dr. Bawumia ever grow up politically? No sooner had his ill-fated “Pink Sheet’’ foray to tamper with the sovereign will of majority of Ghanaians collapsed in fiasco at the Supreme Court in August this year than Dr. Bawumia ignited yet another controversy to shamelessly launch his own electioneering campaign towards the 2016 Elections at the expense of Alieu Mahama.
Unfortunately, and as always, Dr. Bawumia once again failed miserably to project himself as either a worthwhile Running Mate or an astute substantive Presidential ASPIRANT. Dr. Bawumia simply demonstrated that he is just another BANDWAGON POLITICAL ACTIVIST, determined to play to the gallery of elite members and high-profile supporters of NPP there assembled, ostensibly to curry favour with them in his future campaigns. His attempted swipes at his opponents both in the Courtroom and on political platforms always reveal his very poor appreciation of serious and important matters of national governance and economic management. No wonder his Polling agents were glorified observers and the inflationary cedi redenomination his star achievement!
A few more ramifications and practical demonstrations of Hon. Ayikoi Otoo’s revealing statement about ostracism within (and outside) the NPP, and in the Danquah-Busia tradition in general, are highly instructive.
Apollo 568 And “No Court, No Court’’
The older generation of Ghanaians would remember the infamous Apollo 568 mass and unexplained dismissal of about 600 Ghanaians, mostly non-Akan public servants, teachers, police personnel, etc, from the public services by Dr. Busia’s Govt soon after it took political power in 1969. Fallouts from this essentially ethnocentric exercise were the historic Sallah Case and “No court, No court’’ declaration by Dr. Busia, the Democrat and a co-Founding Father of the Danquah – Busia Tradition!
In a law suit challenging his dismissal, the Supreme Court of Ghana declared that one, Mr. Sallah, an Ewe, had been wrongfully dismissed in that exercise and that he should be reinstated in his position. Dr. Busia, the Prime Minister, Head of Govt and Leader of the Progress Party during that period, refused to comply with that Court’s order. He boastfully declared on national radio and television that “No court in Ghana would coerce his Govt to reinstate Mr. Sallah’’, and others similarly dismissed.
Apart from the very strong ethnocentric posturing and selectivity that characterized the identification and eventual dismissal of those unfortunate compatriots, the blunt refusal by Dr. Busia to reinstate the victim(s) completely shattered the proverbial and hackneyed claim that the Danquah- Busia tradition are bastions and practitioners of the rule of law and good governance in Ghana. No less a personality than one of the two Founding Fathers of that tradition, Dr. Busia had proved very conclusively that the claim is a complete MYTH AND A SHAM!
Thirty (30) years later in 2001 through to 2008, the Nation witnessed many more replays of the worst forms of utter disregard for the rule of law and good governance engendered largely by visceral and vicious ethnocentrism and sheer dislike for members of other non-Akan groups.
Early in its term, the Kufuor Govt wrongfully dismissed a Deputy Director in the Ghana Immigration Service, Mr. Hodare Okine, obviously a Ga, on the alleged orders of Asamoah Boateng, a junior presidential staffer then. Characteristically, that Govt too refused to reinstate the victim against an order by a Court of competent jurisdiction in Ghana.
Ghanaians cannot forget the bizarre and extremely pathetic circumstances under which Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, another Ewe, was rail- roaded into the Nsawam medium security prison (where he almost died) though his case was reportedly pending on appeal in the Superior Courts of Adjudication in Ghana.
Particularly vindictive and clannish was the fact that former President Kufuor went to great lengths to obtain a favourable judgment against the victim through a reconstituted Bench of Law Justices who reversed their own earlier unfavourable verdict against his Govt. Consequently, the reconstituted Bench had Mr. Tsikata returned to the lower Court, tried and convicted on spurious corruption charges.
Meanwhile, President Kufuor himself declared on a public platform that he would not take any punitive actions to stem reported corrupt practices by his appointees – majority of whom were Akans – lest he destroyed his own Govt. What double standard!
In spite of this declaration, his Govt, moved very swiftly to dismiss Mallam Issah, another Dagomba and a Northerner, in his Govt and had him prosecuted and jailed for alleged embezzlement of money meant for footballers on assignment abroad when all indications were that the money travelled unaccompanied by Mallam Issah and was stolen in transit.
It has been stated many times on several public platforms by his political opponents that former President Kufuor never appointed a single Cabinet Minister from the Upper West Region during his 8-year presidency. This assertion had never been denied by the NPP.
It had also been alleged that late Courage Quashigah, an Ewe, and a Cabinet Minister in that Govt complained on many occasions that “further Cabinet Meetings’’ had been held behind his back after the “official” meetings.
The mother of all ethnocentric pronouncements relative to ostracism of non-Akans in the NPP as contended by Hon. Ayikoi Otoo was made by Hon.Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the NPP Minority Leader in Parliament. This high-ranking member of the NPP stated publicly that “no Ga (including Nii Ayikoi himself) was qualified”to be considered by his Party for a presidential running mate position in the 2012 Elections. He dismissed Prof. Mike Oquaye another Ga,out of hand, citing his age as a disqualifier. Surely, Hon.Mensah – Bonsu’s pronouncement cannot pass for political incorrectness by any standard. In truth, the Minority Leader stated his own gut ethnocentric bias. More significantly, he articulated the deep seated ethnocentric credentials of the NPP, which
Dr. Tony Aidoo often says “reside in the very libido of the NPP” and the Danquah – Busia tradition, for that matter.
Of course, as far back as 1979, a stalwart of the Danquah – Busia tradition, the late Victor Owusu, during his ill-fated presidential campaign in that year against late Dr. Hilla Limann of the PNP, stated their utter contempt for other non-Akan ethnic groups and called Ewes of the Volta Region “inward – looking” people. And, perhaps, therefore, “unfit” to include in any governance structure of the Danquah –Busia tradition. This contemptuous mindset, perhaps, explained the so-called “further cabinet meetings” held behind Courage Quashigah under the Kufuor Govt.
The New Dawn
As alluded to earlier regarding Nana Ohene Ntow’s alleged desire to know the ostracists in their Party, the unprecedented rallying of the other ethnic groups including the “minority” Akan groups to support the cause of the NDC in the General Elections of 2008 and 2012, is to show up the pervasive ethnocentric syndrome and cancerous discriminatory practices within and outside the NPP. There is nothing absolutely perfidious or “disloyal” about the significant shifts in preference by the rest of these “minority” Akan groups, in particular. Their support for the NDC is pure commonsense, for “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
The Basic Question – Why Ostracism In The NPP?
Because the ‘Anointed To Rule’ class have been caught up in the global evil culture of inordinate ambition and insatiable hunger for political power, greed and materialism. The NPP call it “Property – owning democracy”; but Dr. Tony Aidoo appropriately labels it ‘CRONYIC CAPITALISM’ for what it really is in practice. Cronyism (or croneyism) is the improper appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority (and related privileges, etc).
Ghanaians witnessed the high levels of personal and collective acquisitiveness that occurred under the Govt of the NPP during the period 2001 – 2008 under former President Kufuor and under Dr, Busia and his Progress Party govt from September 1969 and January 1972.
Notable manifestations of this cronyic capitalism include renovation of his private residence at Odorkor with alleged two months’ salary advance by Dr. Busia. The mad rush by high- ranking Progress Party members and Govt functionaries to “acquire’’ businesses and landed properties left by Levantine merchants and other West African nationals who were hurriedly expelled from Ghana by the Busia Govt under its most ill-conceived Aliens’ Compliance Order of 1970.
Under President Kufuor, renovation of his own private house at West Airport by a “ certain farmer” amidst public suspicion and outcry: the questionable allocation of 3.5% shares in the nascent oil and gas industry to the E.O. Group and their shadowy collaborators; nontransparent ‘redevelopment and sale’ of state lands and bungalows across the country; decimation and captive auction of landed properties and valuable assets belonging to viable but temporarily insolvent state companies – Ghana Airways, Ghana Telecom, GNPC, among others; the petty act of ‘stripping” his bungalow of its furnishings, etc by the former SPEAKER of Parliament and the saga of Hotel Waa Waa itself, etc.
Their collaborators in the public sector and parastatals, private sector operators, civil society organizations, so-called think- tanks, professional associations, labour and religious leaders, partisan sections of the media, etc also fed fat on the “rewards” of their criminal abetment and condonation of graft and incompetence in the vital sectors of the national economy.
‘Cronyic capitalism’ was placed high above the national interest, good governance and prudent economic management. Love and service for the people and their welfare were replaced with greed, crass arrogance and palpable loss of basic commonsense in the capricious exercise of raw political and executive power and the blind pursuit and actualisation of this “property – owning democracy” fad for 8years!
Happily, following Edmund Burke’s wise counsel that the only way to make evil triumph is for good men to do nothing, the good people of Ghana spoke in the 2008 and 2012 Elections and emphatically removed the NPP from power. Their belated attempt to subvert the popular will of the people at the Supreme Court was equally and effectively rebutted by the Law Justices.
As if these bitter lessons were not enough to engender serious introspection in ordinary mortals, the NPP continue to employ their usual double talk, plain untruths and unprincipled boycotts of Parliamentary work to mislead the electorates. Every level 100 Economics undergraduate knows the difficulties of bringing the large Ghanaian informal sector into the tax net, yet when VAT is increased by 2.5% to somewhat capture that sector too in the tax net, the NPP predictably engage in their usual gimmicks of “feeling for the ordinary Ghanaian.” How much tax net –widening did the Kufuor Govt do in their 8years in office to lecture the present Govt, let alone to serve as a precedent?
Indeed, the NPP must not behave as if they have not been in Govt before. As stated earlier, the Danquah – Busia tradition has been in Govt twice since independence, albeit in two different generations. In both instances, their performance in Govt and general governance have been nothing but cavalier, if not worse under the NPP and ex-President Kufuor probably because of NPP’s 8year rule as against 27months by Dr. Busia.
Patriotic and honest Ghanaians high and low will forever decry the NPP’s entrenched predatory approach to national assets and the national interest in general. The saga of the sale of the GNPC DRILL SHIP 511 and the tortuous accounts being yarned by MR. K.T. Hammond before the Judgement Debt Commissioner and on radio are very similar to the wanton dissipation of public funds in the messy Ghana @50 celebrations, the incompetent and wasteful handling of the energy crisis of 2004 / 5, extravagant expenditure on the construction of the new Flagstaff House, the contentious Castle renovations, deliberate neglect and eventual off –loading at giveaway price of the Presidential Gulf Stream Jet, irresponsible and vindictive repudiation of valid contracts leading to huge judgement debts, among others.
Even as His Holiness Pope Francis prescribes a rare antidote “to tie perpetrators (of ostracism, corruption, graft, acquisitiveness, misrule, etc) to a rock and throw them into the sea”, present indications do not bode well for a genuine change in orientation by some Ghanaian politicians. And, since the “leopard can never change its spots”, Ghanaians must beware and vote wisely in the 2016 polls to safeguard the tremendous gains the Nation will make in the 8years under the NDC and President John Mahama. Ghanaians must continue to forestall and foreclose the recurrence of this obnoxious “cronyic capitalism” and its evil fallouts through massive defeat of the NPP in the 2016 polls too and thereafter.
Today, the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the NPP, Hon. Ayikoi Otoo has also spoken. The canker of OSTRACISM of non-Akans denied ad nauseam by the NPP has been uncovered. The shameless and treacherous grandstanding – the ‘Mahyeda’s’ of their Parliamentary Minority and their civil society collaborators – designed to stall and frustrate vitally needed and beneficial programmes and projects for Ghanaians living everywhere in the country has
been exposed. Their hypocrisy has been unmasked.
As Shakespeare says in HAMLET, the NPP “have been hoisted by their own petard.” They must continue to suffer the consequences of their 8-year misrule.