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17.12.2004 Politics

Cry, The Divided Country

By Palaver
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... Kufuor's Legacy to Ghana

Palaver -- GHANA is now a divided country, and it's official, divided along ethnic, regional, religious, cultural economic and linguistic lines. This is the result of four years of John Agyekum Kufuor's administration, run basically along ethnic Ashanti/Akan, ethnic/regional, Christian, Ashanti loyalty and Ashanti lines.

And the voters rewarded him by ceding to him all the homogenously Ashanti and Ashanti-dominated constituencies of the Ashanti, Eastern, Central and Western Regions and the southern part of Brong Ahafo Region, whilst they made sure the non-Akan regions of Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Volta Regions remained loyal to the NDC. Greater Accra Region was split with the Akan dominated constituencies going to the NPP and the non-Akan, mainly Ga-dominated constituencies going to the NDC.

Never has the ethnic divide of Ghana been so sharply defined by a General Election, and all because of the nature and style of the Kufuor administration, with its focus and attention on Ashanti, Ashantis, the Asantehene, Kumasi and the Akans.

Take the Kufuor Cabinet. Over 35% of the members are Ashanti and over 65% are Akans. The feeling of marginalisation and exclusion begins from there. Take the closest aides of the President.

The Secretary to the President, D. K. Osei, is not only an Ashanti; he is the President's nephew-in-law.

The Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Kwadwo Mpiani, is an Ashanti.

The National Security Coordinator, Francis Poku, is an Ashanti.

The Minister of Defence, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, is not only an Ashanti; he is the President's brother.

The de facto Prime Minister, Senior Minister J. H. Mensah, is not only a half Brong, half Fante of the Akan stock; he is the President's brother-in-law.

The Minister of Interior, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, is a Juaben-Ashanti.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, is an Akim-Akan.

The Foreign Minister, Nana Akufo-Addo, is an Akim-Akan.

The IGP, Nana Owusu Nsiah, is a Brong-Akan.

The Attorney General, Papa Owusu Ankomah, though representing the Sekondi constituency in the Ahanta area of the Western Region, is of Kwahu-Akan origin, his father having been credited with introducing the famous, or is it infamous, 'Tigare' shrine into the Ahanta area.

The Secretary to the Cabinet, Annan Cato, is a Fante-Akan.

Compare this to the last Rawlings Cabinet and Presidential aides in 2000.

Rawlings himself is an Ewe from the Volta Region. The Secretary to the President was J. L. Amissah, a Fante.

The Chief of Staff at the Presidency was Nana Ato Dadzie, a Fante.

The National Security Coordinator was Baffuor Assassie-Gyimah, an Ashanti.

The Minister of Defence was Lt. Col. E. K. T. Donkor, a Brong-Akan.

The de facto Prime Minister, the Presidential Adviser on Presidential Affairs, was Alhaji Mahama Iddrissu, a Wala from the Upper West Region.

The Minister of Interior was Nii Okaija Adamafio, a Ga.

The Minister of Finance was Kwame Peprah, an Ashanti.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs was Victor Gbeho, an Ewe.

The IGP was Peter Nanfuri, from Jirapa in the Upper West Region.

The Attorney General was Dr. Obed Asamoah, an Ewe.

The Secretary to the Cabinet was Bebaako-Mensah, a Krachi from the Volta Region.

Now take President Kufuor's appointments to Chief Executive positions of public Boards and Corporations.

Of about 105 such bodies recorded by the 'Ghana Palaver', about 100 are either Ashantis or Akans. The feeling of marginalisation and exclusion grows deeper.

Take the language of governance. The official language of the country is English, but the “unofficial” language of the Castle, the seat of Government, is Ashanti. We are informed that Cabinet discourse sometimes lapses into and is conducted in Ashanti. It was conduct like that that emboldened the illiterate Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey to once describe President Kufuor to Kofi Wayo as “that Ashanti bastard”.

Take a look at the myriad Special Assistants who have been appointed by the Kufuor administration to service Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Regional Ministers, and even District Chief Executives. Over 70% of them are either Ashantis or Akans.

Take a look at our diplomatic representation abroad. More than two-thirds are either Ashantis or Akans. One of these is called Dr. Adjei-Barwuah, Ghana's Ambassador to Japan. All we read about him since his appointment is either arranging Japanese scholarships for Ashanti youth, or arranging Japanese funding for projects in Ashanti.

Then take the issue of foreign dignitaries who visit Ghana. They are whipped right past the Ga Mantse, past the Okuapehene, past the Okyehene, and straight to the 'King of Ghana', the Asantehene.

When it comes to using the unorthodox approach to source donor funds, it is the Asantehene who performs as emissary of President Kufuor.

When it comes to sourcing funds from the World Bank in support of traditional authorities, it is the Asanteman Council and the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area who benefit.

So the seeds of ethnicity, tribalism, regionalism and nepotism had been sown long before the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Any wonder therefore that Ashantis and Akans decided to vote for the NPP, the perceived Ashanti/Akan party, and the non-Akans decided to vote for the NDC, the apparent non-Akan party?

Thus it comes as no surprise that the Ashanti Region, Eastern Region, Central Region and Western Region with their Ashanti/Akan dominance voted for the NPP, whilst the Upper West Region, Upper East Region, Northern Region and Volta Region went all out for the NDC. The three constituencies in the Ashanti Region won by the NDC are all settler-dominated namely, Ejura-Sekyedumase (Northerners), Asawasi (Northerners), and New Edubiase (Ewes).

Brong Ahafo Region was shared between the two parties, with the predominantly Akan parts of the region in the south going for the NPP, whilst the Northerners-dominated part of the region in the north went for the NDC.

Similarly, in the Greater Accra Region, the Ga-dominated constituencies such as Odododiodoo and Dade Kotopon and the Northerners-dominated constituencies such as Ashaiman and Ayawaso East went to the NDC, whilst the predominantly Akan constituencies of Okaikwei North and Dome-Kwabenya went to the NPP.

The post-election geo-electoral map of Ghana makes it clear that the country is now divided between the Northern and Volta Regions to the Northern and South-Eastern parts of the country on the one hand, and the Ashanti, Eastern, Central and Western Regions to the Central and South-Western parts of the country on the other.

Given the ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, educational and other characteristics of the country's regions, it becomes obvious that Ghana is now divided broadly between the Akan South and the non-Akan North; between the Christian South and the Muslim North; between the cloth-wearing South and the smock-wearing North; between the rich South and the poor North; and between the educated South and the uneducated North.

This divide is a recipe for a social explosion that is waiting to happen, and President Kufuor has a responsibility to pull the country back from the ethnic precipice that he has created.

We would make the following proposals:

(i) President Kufuor should appoint a Cabinet that has a fair proportion of ethnic minorities;

(ii) The Ashanti image of the Kufuor Government must be radically transformed in reality, not in rhetoric of the Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey rationalisation type;

(iii) President Kufuor should immediately enter into dialogue with the NDC to discuss possible areas of cooperation, especially in relation to governance issues in the three Northern Regions and in the Volta Region;

(iv) President Kufuor should tone down on the harassment, intimidation, persecution and prosecution of ex-NDC Ministers and officials as it has become obvious that that strategy did not achieve its objective of either disintegrating the NDC or decimating its leadership;

(v) President Kufuor and the NPP should accept that the NDC is an opposition reality that they have to live with, and forget about their dream of financing the CPP back into existence as the opposition they would like to deal with;

(vi) President Kufuor should stop his policy of “equality equals equity” of selecting one project (school, road, etc) per region for improvement to 'excellent' status and recognise that given the present reality of inequality and inequity, he has to discriminate in favour of the Northern and Volta Regions if he is to achieve regional equity as required by the Constitution;

(vii) President Kufuor should advise his Ministers, relatives, advisers and acquaintances to tone down on their arrogance and brashness which daily create the impression that they are the only ones who matter in Ghana today;

(viii) Since Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey based his campaign on a Kufuor versus Rawlings platform, and given the 52%-45% votes cast respectively, it is obvious that much as they try, the NPP cannot wish Rawlings away and the earlier they made their peace with him, the better and easier it would be for their Government. They should make a start by restoring to the former President the courtesies that they unconstitutionally withdrew from him;

(ix) The late entry of former NDC Ministers and officials into the electioneering campaign clearly had a positive impact on the NDC campaign, and President Kufuor and his Government must begin to talk to those former NDC Ministers and officials who it appears have a wealth of experience that they can put at the disposal of the NPP Government;

(x) Professor John Evans Atta-Mills is now a critical factor in the Ghanaian political equation and President Kufuor must talk to him.

It was writer Alan Paton who in the apartheid era of South Africa sent out the painful reminder of “Cry, The Beloved Country”.

President Kufuor met a beautiful, united country four years ago. At the end of his four years in office, and in view of what he has made of Ghana, we can only send this painful reminder to him that ours is now “Cry, The Divided Country”.

Fortunately, the Ashanti and Akan majority of Ghana have given him four more years to try to put together that which he has divided. We are watching.

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