I read with delight an article written by my dear brother Dr. G. A. Agambila, published in your issue of 13th January 2009 entitled: An Anatomy of the NPP's fall. Motivated by this piece, I wish to contribute to the ongoing discussion on how “Ex-President Kufuor and his gang of Mafias” betrayed the three northern regions; a major reason why the party suffered defeat in the 2oo8 election.
Dr. Agambila's diagnosis was that the Kufuor cabal 'pursued policies whose useful purpose was to help galvanise the NDC and get them battle ready for December 2008', a deep and sober reflection hasn't revealed otherwise! For many years there has been a growing school of thought among northerners, that they have no place in an Akan dominated party, a propaganda our opponents have always feasted on to score cheap political points.
The NPP has battled this perception since 1992, and has consistently slated northerners for the Vice Presidential slot, to demonstrate the tribal and regional involvement. The party never counted a northerner in its race to select a presidential ticket until Malik Yakubu attempted in 1992, and more recently Aliu Mahama, who ventured, but suffered defeat in the 2007 primaries held at Legon.
The essence of this article is to showcase this scenario: Candidate Kufuor in 1998 recruited the three Regional Chairmen: the late Alhaji COP (Northern Region), Alhaji Issahaku Abdulai (Upper West) and the late Alhaji Imoro Salifu (Upper East) on whose laps the party rested in the dark days of opposition as his field lieutenants who championed his campaign, even though the party's constitution did not allow them to directly associate themselves with the contest. The three chairmen galvanised all the delegate votes, to get him elected as flagbearer of the party; it is no secret in the circles of the NPP that the three northern regions voted en-bloc for candidate Kufuor on that fateful day at Sunyani. I must emphasise that Kufuor gained acceptability among many northerners, when he pledged his commitment to uphold the ideal of the founding fathers of the Northern Peoples' Party.
The following were pledged:
· To ensure that there was respect for northern culture, improve the political and social advancement of the people and secure just treatment and protection against abuse.
· To ensure a systematic integration of northerners in the general administration in key government portfolios especially in the public service.
· To ensure the continuance and extension of a general system of elementary education designed to abolish illiteracy and to facilitate the vocational and cultural advancement of the population, child and adult and most importantly the provision of such facilities as may prove desirable and practicable in the interest of the inhabitants to receive secondary and higher education, including professional training.
During the 2000 election campaign, I followed closely the trail of Candidate Kufuor, who on his rounds made specific promises; the Tamale and Wa hospitals were high on the agenda, Sawla-Damongo, the Navrongo-Wa road and the construction of irrigation dams were among the promises. All these were made on the heels of having chosen Aliu Mahama as running-mate, who worked as an Engineer in the Upper East Region, married from the Upper West and hails from the Northern Region. He had his footprints all over the north, and was well placed to unite the North Kufuor had promised. I remember very clearly, prominent northerners who hitherto never engaged in politics openly, endorsing the NPP and Kufuor's candidature, giving many northerners an option to consider the NPP against this widely held view that the party was anti-northerners. The NPP recorded new parliamentary seats in the north in 2000 and improved in 2004.
The evidence posits that the Kufuor cabal wrongly advised and misdirected him, but eventually paid off those he perceived as loyalists at the expense of the party. Power blocs were formed around unknown agents, who were nowhere near the struggle in the days of opposition. The party was starved of resources, and most especially, those chiefs who supported the party were disappointed.
The Kufuor Presidency!
By the end of 2001, the administration was almost in place, and a few northern bigwigs were named; the late Madam Hawa Yakubu, Mustapha Iddrissu, Kassim Kasanga and Malik Yakubu were the only Cabinet Ministers from the north, before the first reshuffle. Other names like Kofi Adda, Alima Mahama, Boniface Saddique Charles Bintim, and a few deputies were named in the second term. By the beginning of the second term, it was just Boniface Saddique, Kofi Adda and Hajia Alima Mahama in the government from the north.
The unfortunate incident in Dagbon was still haunting the NPP, many other tribes in the north were taken with shock at the manner in which the issues raised in the Wuaku Commission report were sidestepped, whilst those involved in that dastardly act were seen walking about in Tamale with impunity. Whilst members of the Andani family were bleeding with pain, the incessant travels to the Asantehene's Palace to resolve the issue even infuriated people the more.
Kufuor's castle mafia adopted a lukewarm attitude towards problems coming from the three northern regions. What exposed Kufuor was his failure to appear in person to empathise with the victims and their families. An NDC radio panellist in Tamale, argued that Kufuor was not President for the Abudu's, after all prominent members of the Andani family where staunch members of the NPP, Professor Wayo Seini, Musah Superior, Prince Imoro Andani, and many other businessmen and women supported the party. The question, therefore, has been what on earth could have prevented the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces from visiting Yendi?
Granted that security could have been cited as an excuse, was J. H. Mensah, who led the government delegation, not equally exposed to the same security threat? I remember clearly during the Komkomba/Dagomba war, ex-President Rawlings flew into Tamale to see for himself at first hand the situation on the ground, and took radical measures to bring the situation under control, even though his government was accused of backing one side against the other. Important northern personalities like the Late Madam Hawa Yakubu, who courageously championed the northern cause, were sidelined and branded as radical and hot-headed. To register her dislike at what was happening, she honourably bowed out of the Kufuor government, and took an appointment elsewhere.
The sharing of the national cake was even more problematic. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Funds, though initially earmarked to reduce rural poverty, were released with the urban centres receiving a greater share of the funds. The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) funds arrived, and the story wasn't different, as usual the north was left out.
Northern top guns in the NDC like Benjamin Kumbuor, Mahama Ayiriga, and my dear friend, Haruna Iddrisu, argued that if all statistical indication points to the fact that the north is poor, and as a matter of fact deprived, what on earth could morally justify any decision to under-fund any policy measures to reduce poverty?
The NDC scored political points out of it, the radio panellist in the north condemned the criteria used in the distribution of the funds, creating the impression that it was 'Chicken Change' that was allocated to the North, whilst heavy sums where dolled out to the Akan regions that were not as poor in relative terms.
For a very long time, I kept asking myself, if the Kufuor Cabal was still interested in handing over to another NPP government? Their actions and inactions showed otherwise. The castle deliberate attempt to hijack the party by all means has remained the undoubted reason why the party lost the election. I read an earlier piece that alluded to the 'Akyem Virus' as being the cause of our defeat. What then would be said of the 'Afoko Virus'?! A man, who could not even afford taxi fare to Radio Gold, suddenly becoming a “defacto Vice President”, making our dear brother Aliu Mahama very useless in the eyes of his own people. This unfortunate virus became the unofficial adviser to our President on all matters pertaining to the north, making the appointment of Hon. Prince Imoro Andani equally useless. It was the same gentleman who displayed the reckless use of money that never secured victory for the 'Kufuor Cabal' (Darling Boy Allan Cash) during the NPP primaries.
Energetic and hardworking regional ministers were removed for the mere reason that they supported a particular candidate other than the president's choice. Ambrose Dery and Boniface Agambila were all, either dismissed or reshuffled upon the ill advice of this 'virus'. The viral infection Kufuor suffered led him to appoint ministers who reinvented the abolished 'cash and carry syndrome' with contracts. Mustapha Idrissu, Hickah Benson and Alhassan Samari were all accused by party activists for selling contracts to pro-NDC contractors. When the 'virus' pitched camp in the North to coordinate Allan's campaign seven (7) MMDCEs were sacked for supporting and working for Nana Akufo Addo. One of the lot, at the time, had his wife in the morgue awaiting burial, and that year (2007) alone, that DCE lost his son, mother-in-law and the wife... No wonder the DCE had this to say, when the candidate he was accused of supporting paid him a visit before the wife's funeral: “That if you are accused of sleeping with the wife of your village chief, then you better or might as well impregnate her.”
So if this virus was that influential, I beg to ask, why did we lose in his own backyard (Bulsa North and South), after all the money he sent there? In the north it's not how much money you dole out, it's actually about the credibility of the messenger, and the message itself. So you may have the money, but an issue of your credibility is very crucial and must be verified.
I am joined by the forces that agitate for northern development, to ask the Ex-President a few very important questions that concern all northerners, what happened to the following promises:
· the construction of the all important Navrongo-Wa, Fufulsu-Damongo– Sawla, Yendi-Cheriponi, Bimbila-Nkwanta roads. These roads touch the lives of thousands of people in the North. Kufuor himself will attest to the fact that those roads need urgent attention by any government wishing to win the heart and minds of the people.
· What has happened to the Wa, Bolga and the crucial Tamale Hospital, which were promised? In the last eight (8) years, not even a facelift has the Tamale Hospital seen.
· What have the people of the Upper West done, that for all the period of his second term he never honoured them with a visit. The home region of very important founding fathers of the party (S. D. Dombo, B. K. Adama, Abayifaa Karbo, Jato Kaleo and Bin Sali etc.). Will Kufuor venture not to visit the home regions of any of these founding members Busia, Victor Owusu, J. B. Danquah? So why Upper West?
· What has happened to the promises of the irrigation dams for dry season farming? To curtail the Rural-Urban migration into the cities of which more than 60% comes from the three northern region.
· And why did the Ex-President consistently fail to attend the matriculation or graduation ceremony of the University for Development Studies for eight (8) years? But made time to attend at least one invitation of the other public Universities.
What I still can't comprehend is why these promises were not delivered. An elderly northern statesman told me that ex-President Kufuor and his castle mafia, used us to enrich his family and friends, and singled out his very loyal cronies from the north, whom he rewarded.
A close brother of mine in the NDC, I discussed this piece with, told me not to worry as Gbevlo-Lartey and Brigadier Nunoo Mensah had been sorting out documents received from 'belly informants' with all the detailed information on the cabal and their under dealings, which would be made public pretty soon. I am also reliably informed that some of Kufuor's loyal businessmen friends are already running for cover, and handing in evidence of criminal dealings they have had with Kufuor's cabal.
I hope the NDC would fulfil its promise of renovating the Nsawam Prison to accommodate new occupants, as the hawks in the NDC are gearing up to overhaul the following projects and contracts; [email protected], Golden Jubilee House, Vodafone sale agreement, the School Feeding Programme ,the PSIs, the controversial return of Ga lands and many others. But I must warn that the days when people were termed the 'boys' are OVER; those who have stockpiled enough cash have forgotten that whilst they were busy enjoying their booty with their cronies and family associates, the boys who did all the dirty jobs were equally busy accumulating evidence and waiting for this day, because greedy gluttons took centre stage.
It is the greed that Kufuor's mafia introduced that propelled Mills in to power. A leading member of the NDC posed the following questions, after the first round results; What rational explanation could be given for the announcement of salary increases, a few hours before exiting office, if indeed you wanted the NPP to retain power? Reducing petrol prices after the announcement of a run-off, called to question the forty years of political experience Kufuor has boasted of. What I can confidently promise, is that the NPP would always uphold its belief in the rule of law, by allowing the Mills administration to exercise the law appropriately, when there is overwhelming evidence, all with the view to deepening the multi-party democracy, and good governance record set by the Kufuor administration.