The recent insistent call by the chiefs of Chiraa and Fiapre townships in the Brong-Ahafo Region for the presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to select a running-mate who hails from their region, unpardonably insults the intelligence of all democracy-loving Ghanaians (See “Akufo-Addo, Consider BA – Chiefs Plead” Daily Graphic/Modernghana.com 1/5/12).
For starters, the joint call by Barima Mintah-Afari II and Nana Opoku-Ababio appears to be a thinly veiled insidious attempt at calling in what these patently misguided traditional rulers envisage to be a favor uniquely owed them and the people of Brong-Ahafo, merely because in the lead-up to the 1969 general election, or thereabouts, conducted by the Afrifa-led National Liberation Council (NLC), Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, the prime-ministerial candidate of the erstwhile Progress Party (PP), had appointed Justice Edward Akufo-Addo, the father of the current NPP presidential candidate, as his ceremonial president. The call of the chiefs is thus a lurid and immitigably unconscionable attempt to compromise both the ideological and moral integrity of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. It also myopically overlooks the fact that the proverbial Danquah-Busia Tradition is none the least bit predicated on raw and naked nepotism but, rather, the immutable democratic principle of equity and fairness.
Then also must be unreservedly emphasized the fact that the Danquah-Busia Tradition is an inclusive political tent encompassing the equal participation of all Ghanaian citizens from all ten regions of the country, without any fear or favor. Indeed, by so deviously and mischievously attempting to finesse the “Dombo Factor” out of the Danquah-Busia Tradition, Barima Mintah-Afari II and Nana Opoku-Ababio appear to be either wittingly or unwittingly, but definitely selfishly, playing the good fortunes of the New Patriotic Party, in the heated lead-up to Election 2012, into the hands of those cynics who have been adamantly insisting, since the beginning of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, that the NPP is, somehow, the exclusive preserve of Ghanaian citizens of Akan descent. It is, indeed, on this score that the latest call by these two Brong-Ahafo chiefs, as well as that of Nana Asante-Boateng IV, the Apagyahene of Fiapre, ought to be roundly condemned.
To be certain, it would not come as any surprise, at all, if these three chiefs are later discovered to be card-carrying members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), deliberately set up to psychologically stampede Nana Akufo-Addo and prevent the NPP flagbearer from realizing his hard-fought presidential ambition. It is also not clear what the three Brong-Ahafo chiefs mean when they contradictorily claim that no citizen from their region has served in the executive branch in the cabinets of either the NDC or NPP governments, and then turn round to also confidently and proudly claim that almost every individual Brong-Ahafo citizen who has served as a minister of state in either the Kufuor and/or the Rawlings-Mills administrations has acquitted him-/herself creditably.
And, indeed, were these chiefs no “greedy bastards,” perhaps, they would have been wise enough to seriously question why, for instance, no Ghanaian citizen of Ga-Adangbe descent, two of whose kinsmen were among the ranks of the legendary Big Six, has ever been elected as either President of Ghana or the Presidential Candidate/running-mate of either major political party.
That Barima Mintah-Afari II and Nana Opoku-Ababio both hail from the Sunyani-West District, long represented in Ghana’s Parliament by Mr. J. H. Mensah, a former senior minister and presidential right-hand man in the Kufuor government, is absolutely no coincidence at all. Not very long ago, for instance, Mr. Mensah, who is also the brother-in-law of former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, made a similar curiously tendentious judgment call. Remarkably and predictably, the former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning under Prime Minister Busia at the time, cynically couched his equally prejudicial call in dubious terms of competence even, while like the three Brong-Ahafo chiefs herein referenced, pretending to cavalierly ignore the time-tested and globally affirmed significance of regional balance in the selection of a running-mate.
It is also rather disingenuous for the three Brong-Ahafo chiefs to pretend that the selection, or choosing, of role models by Ghanaian youths is a purely regional or ethnocentric affair. And here, perhaps, it bears recalling for the moral edification of Barima Mintah-Afari, Nana Opoku-Ababio and, of course, Nana Asante-Boateng that while growing up under the Busia government, this writer readily identified with Ghana’s Oxbridge scholar-Prime Minister without any thought of whether Dr. Busia was a Brong native or a non-Akyem native. To be certain, back then, I had absolutely no idea, whatsoever, of my being related to the legendary likes of Drs. J. B. Danquah and Jones Ofori-Atta and even President Edward Akufo-Addo and Mr. William (Paa Willie) Ofori-Atta. And there, of course, was a reason for such anomaly: my own father was a dyed-in-the-wool CPP operative. Not that becoming aware of the fact of these illustrious Ghanaian leaders having been my blood relatives would have made much of a difference. After all, the onus of raising me to become a successful and responsible Ghanaian citizen still squarely rested on the shoulders of my own parents and maternal grandparents!
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005).
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