Some residents of Bawku, a conflict-hit town in the Upper East Region, have rejected food items donated by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
The Vice-President, provided 500 mini-bags of rice meant for distribution among victims of the protracted conflict in the area.
A one-minute-thirty-seconds video, shows the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Bawku, Amadu Hamza, announcing the arrival of the items before offloading them from a truck.
“Good morning to you all. The purpose for this gathering is a very simple one. His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, having heard of some complaints in Bawku about the plight of the generality of the populace in Bawku about how persons have been affected as a result of the conflict, he has done a yeoman’s job by extending his courtesies to persons who have been affected by the conflict.
“Simply to say that he has handed over 500bags of rice to the people of Bawku. This is across all the tribes, it’s across all the persons in Bawku. So, it is our responsibility to also receive it. As a Municipal Chief Executive, as a representative of His Excellency the President in the municipality to receive it and then to sit and get a committee that will be able to disburse this rice. So,it’s as simple as that. So, what we can dois to say thank you so much to His Excellency the Vice President of the republic of Ghana,” the MCE said.
The arrival of the food items was met with rejection by residents from the Kusasi faction of the conflict. Explaining the reasons for the rejection, the residents said Overlord of the Kusaug Traditional Area, Zugraan Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, was not informed before the food items were brought to Bawku. This, they say, is tantamount to disrespect against the authority of the traditional ruler.
They are raising issues regarding the location where the food items are being kept. To them, the items were taken to a Mamprusi-dominated area for storage without the notice and involvement of the Kusasis.
Some of the youths are also accusing the Vice President of what they describe as his long silence on the Bawku conflict, hence their decision to reject his gifts.
A security expert and a member of the government delegation that recently visited the area to broker peace between the two feuding factions, Dr Adam Bonaa, applauded the youth for bringing up their concerns to the notice of duty bearers without resorting to arms.
He told The Herald’s Haruna Sumaila Abugri that, it was better to express concerns with words than with arms.
“It is better to express it this way than to take up arms and say we have been disrespected. I believe if these conversations are usually brought up, it will never result in an all-out shootout and making Bawku now become like a war zone. So, as far as I am concerned, their concerns must be looked at. We have to listen to them. It could be a mistake on the part of those who delivered the gifts on behalf of the Vice President, and there could be mistake on the part of the young people who are not happy because, they feel the Bawku Naba has been disrespected.
“These conversations call for more dialogue and more understanding. From where I sit, these are some of the things you need to bring those who are not happy to aroundtable. Maybe there is some miscommunication. May be somebody didn’t act well.Maybe, they are not acting well. But you had the opportunity, you heard from them; so, you will sit with them and you then explain your part to them,” said Dr Bonaa.
In Dr Bonaa’s opinion, the counsel of the Overlord of Bawku, should have been sought prior to the delivery of the food items and that a neutral ground could have been reached by the two groups regarding where the food items should be stored and how it would be distributed. This, he added, would have erasedany suspicionson both sides.
He pointed at dialogue as an efficient way to enhance the peace-building process started by the State. He noted that it was time the people of Bawku understood that they were one people and forged ahead in unity for development to take place. He also called on duty bearers, particularly the Office of the Vice President, to listen to those who were aggrieved.
He expressed his happiness that the campaign to silence the guns in the area was receiving the needed attention.
In a telephone interview with The Herald, a security analyst, Adiib Saani, observed that broader consultations among the various groups in the area were needed.
He added that, even if that was not done, there was still a window of opportunity on the side of government to reach out to the Kusasis.
He said if what the Kussasis were saying was anything to go by, then the government erred in not adequately engaging the two sides, before dispatching the food items to Bawku. The Bawku conflict, he noted, required a multidimensional approach.
Mr Adiib bemoaned that the poor intelligence gathering and the porous nature of the country’s borders were contributing to the influx of fire arms into the troubled municipality and called on authorities to step up their efforts. He disclosed that Bawku was currently a weak link for extremism.
“Bawku is our weakest link so far as countering violent extremism in Ghana is concerned. Because of the issues there, it (Bawku) has almost become lawless. Not once, some individuals have been sightedin the area fighting there from Burkina Faso.
“Some terrorists’ groups might come to support either side. So, they are given a safe haven. You see, where there is lawlessness, there is always a possibility of criminal elements establishing a foothold and terrorists might take advantage as a result,” he stated.
Efforts to contact the Municipal Chief Executive, Amadu Hamza, were unsuccessful as text messages and calls to his MTN number went unanswered.