Largest opposition group, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in collaboration with its Ashanti Regional Parliamentary Caucus, yesterday staged what some describe as an “ethnocentric protestation” in its stronghold, Ashanti Region.
The demonstration christened, “Ya Ye Den” to wit “What have we done” according to organizers was staged to register the Ashati Region’s displeasure about the current economic hardship, coupled with the unending power outages in the region, where they claim the phenomenon is predominate.
Whiles, electricity users especially those in the Greater Accra Region, including Tema; the industrial hub of Ghana and others in several parts of the country are crying foul over the unscheduled load shedding, the NPP in the Ashanti argues that theirs is unprecedented, insinuating that it is intentional. To many, the demonstrators want a preferential treatment in the region.
There was slight confusion during the Kumasi procession, our correspondent said. Reports say the confusion led to the withdrawal of the police escort, but was later resolved by the organizers.
Key amongst the reasons for the demonstration was the on-going capitation being piloted by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as the most populous region is on record to have rejected the decision to start the capitation from there for assessment as to whether the NHIA was getting value for the billions paid to numerous private health facilities.
The NPP’s Ashanti Regional Organizer, Kennedy Kwasi Kankam, had intimated to the state-owned Daily Graphic ahead of the demonstration, that the party was troubled by the deliberate moves to make life unbearable for the people in the region.
The party Organizer, who urged residents of the Kumasi metropolis to patronise the demonstration in their numbers, told the state-run newspaper that, despite his appreciation that the trend was nationwide, the Ashanti Region’s share of the economic hardship was beyond comprehension.
The paper reported that Mr. Kankam, mentioned the rampant and unannounced power cuts in the region as collapsing businesses, adding that it was worse than what other regions were experiencing.
Mr. Kankam, alleged that enquiries by the party, had also indicated that certain regions were not experiencing the same quantum of power cuts, irrespective of the fact that their prices per unit of electricity were lower than that of the Ashanti Region.
He wondered why, electricity generated from the same sources would be priced differently in certain areas, while those who pay more were rather made to suffer more power cuts than those who paid less.
Spotted in red and black outfits, the demonstrators marched through the principal streets of Kumasi, sung and chanted war songs with several placards some of which read, “stop the power cuts”, “Ashanti is mourning”, “posterity will not forgive Mahama”, “Ghanaians deserve better”, “Ghana is broke, fix the economy JM”, “Ghana is crying”, “Children are dying”, “Ghana abre, where is our money JM”, “freedom from dumsor”, “enough is enough”, “save our Cedi”, “JM, kun yen preko”, “Kumasi paa nie? etc.
The demonstrators, who were supposed to have used routes such as the Suame Roundabout through Abrepo Junction, Bantama High Street, Komfo Anokye Roundabout, Pampaso, the Prisons Roundabout, Melcom and Asafo Interchange to Abbey’s Park did not.
The demonstration, was later described by the Ashanti Regional Police Commander DCOP Nathan Kofi Boakye as “a very disorganized march”.
According to him, “Prior to this demonstration, we met them and designed the rules. This morning, I went to the assembling point, and I realized that there were a lot of people there and so I started to lead them. ..after some time, we saw another group emerging from another side.”
“Now we have about six groups and I don’t know whether it’s by accident, or design or intentional which will lead to confrontation with the police. In fact in the history of my police life, I haven’t seen any disorganised demonstration like this.” Due to the turn of events, policemen who were assigned to protect the demonstrators have been withdrawn to follow the demonstrators instead, the police commander said.
“In order to avoid any confrontation, I decided to withdraw the police so that we will follow them. The way they are behaving, it may lead to confrontation with the police. Because we decided to lead them through the approved route which some may not agree,” he said.
Prominent amongst the demonstrators were Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, former boss of COCOBOD and MP for Subin Isaac Osei who is speculated to be eyeing in the party’s flagbearership contest, a former Finance Minister and MP for Old Tafo Anthony Akoto Osei, Ashanti Regional chairman of the NPP Bernard Antwi Boasiako (Chairman Wuntumi), MP for Atwima Mponua Isaac Asiamah.
The demonstration, which follows several press conferences by the Minority, was designed to attract the various presidential hopefuls waiting to contest the party’s primary in December according to “The Herald’s” sources.
The 2012 flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo and his arch rival, Alan Kojo Kyeremanten (Alan Cash) did not attend.
A statement jointly signed by the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NPP, Samuel Pyne and the Chairperson of the Ashanti Caucus of Parliament, Elizabeth Agyeman, said, “since this government, for reasons best known to it, has decided to turn a deaf ear to the plea of the people, it has become necessary that we pour out our frustration through this demonstration.”
According to the statement, “hardly does a day pass in Kumasi without continuous power outages. The intensity of what has come to be known as ‘dumsor’ in the Ashanti is mind-boggling.”
The statement recalled that President Mahama had stated that “load shedding shall be a thing of the past” but expressed worry that the country was bracing up for a worse energy situation.
It said the Ashanti Region is poised to hit the principal streets of Kumasi .. “in a peaceful demonstration against the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) and PURC over what it calls “excessive power outages in the region”.
Another group in a statement signed by its PRO, Odehyieba Kwabena Amofa Ababio, affirmed the decision of the group to join the NPP and any political party, which supported its cause. Kumasi is the stronghold of the NPP and from there, Ghana has witnessed many things especially, strike actions by health workers.
The NHIA, has also complained that claims from the health institutions, were bloated and fraudulent with females billed for diseases, which are male related while, males are billed for female-related ailments like, cervical cancer, hence the capitation which was backed by effective auditing of claims.