Feature: Haruna Atta May Be Exaggerating a Far More Complex Issue – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Alhaji Abdul Rahman Haruna Atta
Alhaji Abdul Rahman Haruna Atta

No amount of tactical demonization of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, (by) a former employer of Ghana’s current Ambassador to Namibia, Mr. Haruna Atta, or scapegoating of the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, can exculpate the critic’s current employer and evidently generous paymaster, to wit, President John Dramani Mahama, of blatant and verifiable charges of rabidly anti-Akan tribalism or ethnophobia. Incidentally, both his current paymaster and Alhaji Haruna Atta are married to Akan-descended women. One only has to Google track Mr. Mahama’s virulently anti-Akan hatred vis-à-vis his electioneering campaign speeches in the northern-half of the country, since 2008, to put paid to any doubts that any progressive-minded Ghanaian citizen may be tempted to nurture, based primarily on the logical sophistry of the former editor of the Akufo-Addo-owned New Statesman newspaper, and subsequently Mr. Haruna Atta’s own but presently defunct Accra Daily Mail newspapers.

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I personally have not met the former right-hand man of the late Vice-President Aliu Mahama, but I have had the privilege of briefly meeting his wife, the younger sibling of Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, right here in New York City, as well as the couple’s Columbia University School of Journalism-educated daughter, Aisha, if memory serves me accurately. I must also herein promptly put on record for the benefit of all interested parties, one way or another, that Mr. Haruna Atta, for whose Accra Daily Mail newspaper, one of the finest of its kind in the country at the time, I wrote prolifically, gratis, for quite a while, and his family are also among the finest of their kind that I have ever met. What the foregoing means, of course, is that this brief rejoinder has absolutely no personal edge, one way or another, to it other than being primarily intended to set the proverbial records straight.

Needless to say, anybody who has studiously followed the intra-ethnic and even familial internecine blood-letting conflict that has been swirling around the Dagbon Chieftaincy Dispute, of which both the late Vice-President Aliu Mahama and Alhaji Haruna Atta had been heavily invested, cannot facilely pretend that perennially entrenched Akan ethnic chauvinism is the singular bane of Ghanaian political culture. And so, really, the problem that Mr. Haruna Atta appears to be dealing with here is clearly much bigger in size and scope and definitely far more complex than the strategically “equalizing” ploy deployed by the ardent latter-day Akufo-Addo critic would have Ghanaians and the rest of global humanity believe. By the same token, any facile attempt to off-handedly dismiss Alhaji Haruna Atta’s allegations would be flagrantly tantamount to foolhardily and conveniently attempting to evade the proverbial elephant in the room, in mainstream American political parlance. The fact of the matter is that this elephant of ethnophobia is highly unlikely to go away today or anytime soon or, indeed, ever.

What we are dealing with here is a problem that needs to be promptly and boldly confronted and the blame for the same fairly equally shared. You see, the problem of some 16 other largely also-run presidential candidates running against a sitting Vice-President Aliu Mahama, a two-term running-mate and the substantive arch-lieutenant of a lame-duck President John Agyekum-Kufuor could have been drastically meliorated, if Mr. Kufuor had conscientiously, evenhandedly and boldly endorsed the man whom he had deemed competent enough to act in his stead for nearly a decade at the presidency. And as I have had occasion to observe time and again, this is a decision for which former President Kufuor ought to bear full responsibility. Blaming Nana Akufo-Addo, who may have just been feeding his sometime close associate with what he had become privy to but over which he had absolutely no control, at least at that particular moment in time, as Ambassador Haruna Atta lamely attempts to do in his radio interview or press release, whatever the real case may be, does not cut ice, even as the celebrated British thinker, essayist and novelist Mrs. Virginia Woolf (aka Virginia Stephens) once observed. Indeed, this may precisely be the reason why some of the people to whom Mr. Haruna Atta had confided his “bombshell” of an epiphany, wanted the “bomb-carrier” to confront then-President Kufuor with the same.

Then also, making his successful emergence as the 2008 Presidential Nominee of the New Patriotic Party the exclusive product of his Akan ethnicity does not pass muster or stand up to scrutiny. The fact of the matter is that the former NPP-MP for Akyem-Abuakwa South was anybody’s favorite political race horse but President Kufuor’s. and so, yes, Akufo-Addo may not be without his own fair share of grievous human foibles, but this has almost absolutely nothing to do with what the latter-day Mahama propagandist would have the rest of us believe. We must also promptly highlight the fact that during the two elections in which he served as Mr. Kufuor’s running-mate, Alhaji Aliu Mahama garnered far less of the so-called Northern Vote than his National Democratic Congress’ political opponents for his party. Which clearly means that Vice-President Aliu Mahama would almost certainly have lost Election 2008 by a greater margin than the man who commandingly edged him out of the presidential primary contest.

In the end, what is most troubling about Ambassador Haruna Atta’s allegations is the fact that while he claims that Nana Akufo-Addo had raised a host of other presumably pertinent and significant issues in their Ridge area political rendezvous, nevertheless, the critic claims that so shocked and dazed was he by the Akufo-Addo revelation of the NPP’s leadership slot being hermetically and immutably an Akan preserve that he had literally tuned out whatever else his former boss had to say. For me, though, it is this “missing puzzle” that may well hold the key to the truth and/or reality of what actually transpired between the two hitherto close friends at Nana Akufo-Addo’s Ridge office suite. And so you clearly may well need to come again, Alhaji Haruna Atta.

PS: By the way, have you chanced upon an old Namibian classmate of mine from our PERSCO – St. Peter’s Secondary School – days; his name is Mr. Dickson Buchani? One of the UN-sponsored child refugees of the 1970s and early 1980s. I hear he is doing extremely successfully in the real-estate business. Tell Dickson I say “Hello!” And you, too, Mr. Haruna Atta, “Hello!”

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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