The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is under pressure to demonstrate its inclusiveness after key leadership positions fell to persons within Ghana’s largest ethnic group, Akans.
‘Welcome Karma’, veteran journalist Kweku Baako has remarked indicating it serves the NDC right.
He said for years, the NDC has mischievously branded its rival the New Patriotic Party as an Akan party. Top NDC officials have pointed out that in the NPP, persons from minority ethnic groups – Gas, Ewes, Northerners are routinely excluded from occupying top leadership positions.
The NDC had laughed off the chances of a Northerner and former Vice-President Aliu Mahama ever succeeding Akan president, John Kuffuor after his term expired in 2009.
In more recent times, a Northerner and NPP’s 2016 running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was told by no less a person as the 2016 NDC Presidential candidate John Mahama that he will never become president if he remained within NPP because it favours Akans.
Photo: Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia (now Vice-President ) and former Vice-President, Aliu Mahama
The Akan politics in 2016
John Mahama in November 2016, weeks away from the December 2016 general elections said; “I am a boy from Bole born in Damango, who am I to stand here and call myself president of the Republic of Ghana?”
“The NDC is the party that opens its opportunities to all Ghanaians irrespective of what your ethnic affiliation is. Sometimes I feel sad when I see some of our northern brothers running around and also doing this. … They will use you and dump you”.
Before Mahama’s comment in November 2016, the NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia had used this rhetoric earlier in October 2016 while on the campaign trail in the Upper East region.
Photo: Asiedu Nketia was campaigning for David Adakudugu when he made the comment
“Bawumia is not a bad person but he is in bad company. The NPP are not truthful to certain classes of people. They use people for their own benefits. And when it comes to a time to recognise the importance of the same people they have used, they ignore them.
“The NPP picked Aliu Mahama as a running mate to create an impression that they also respected northerners. When Kufuor finished his term and Aliu Mahama, who automatically should have succeeded Kufuor, wanted to become president, he was strongly opposed, he was contested, and he was booted out,” Mr Asiedu Nketia said.
“Again, Bawumia is being used today to get votes from the north as Aliu Mahama was used. But let it come to a time Bawumia may want to take over the NPP’s flag bearership, they will not allow him. The NPP, by their tradition, are very selective”.
Kweku Baako’s Karma
Video: Anita De-Sooso remarks “now there is no Voltarian in the game. All the Voltarians are out..let’s think about that”
But the NDC last Sunday, emerged from a 48-hr National Delegates Congress, clearing out several non-Akans from important positions.
Although the party’s stronghold remains undoubtedly the Volta region, no member of the region won a commanding role in the party.
Asiedu Nketia shrugged off a challenge from Voltarian and Deputy General Secretary Koku Anyhidoho while another Voltarian Dan Abodakpi seeking National chairmanship position failed to an Akan – Samuel Ofosu Ampofo.
But it was a former National Vice-Chair Anita Desooso who drew attention to the electoral clear-out of Voltarians after she lost her bid to become the first female National Organiser.
Her observation was re-echoed by the party’s founder, charismatic leader and former President Jerry Rawlings who hails from the Volta region.
There are simmering talks that the NDC could placate its electoral world bank by offerring the 2020 Vice-Presidential ticket to a Voltarian.
The dominance of Akans in the NDC became a topic of discussion on Joy News political analysis show Saturday, Newsfile.
Kweku Baako who has political sympathies with the NPP said the elevation of ethnic considerations over competence was stoked by the NDC.
“All this would have been needless if the NDC had not embarked on a certain crusade to tag the NPP as an Akan party”.
He observed that anytime the NPP held internal party elections, the NDC would “predictably” and “consistently” read ethnocentric meanings into the results of the polls.
The New Crusading Guide Editor-In-Chief suggested a party can be tagged as ethnic if leaders were handpicked from a particular tribe.
But once democratic competition takes place in selecting the leaders, it amounts to mischief to play identity politics.
“When you introduce mischief you pollute the environment…they [NDC] have been responsible for polluting this environment for a very, very long time”.
The 1992 constitution which directs political parties to have a national outlook was not referring to choosing leaders from a wide variety of ethnic groups, he explained.
The constitution meant that parties must have a presence in all regions across the country. Kweku Baako explained, all political parties try to create balance within the ethnic make-up of the elected national executives by appointing persons of other ethnic groups into deputisation positions.
Mr. Baako said the Akan dominance within the NDC is “not a big deal”. If it is, then it’s because the NDC has been paid back with its ethnocentric rhetoric employed against its rival, the NPP.
NDC MP for Builsa North James Agalga, a former deputy Interior minister explained, the tagging of NPP as an Akan party is not mischief but a reference to history.
“The forebears of the NPP is the NLM. There is no denying the fact”.
Photo: James Agalga is NDC MP for Builsa North constituency
The Nationalist Liberation Movement (NLM) was formed in 1954 as a party for Asantes. The Asantehene appointed his Chief linguist Baffour Akoto as the founder of political party based in Kumasi, the Ashanti region.
The NLM was also called “Mate – Meho” as it advocated federalism as opposed to unity government. But the NLM was not the only discriminatory party. In the 50’s identity politics was rife.
Photo: Late Chief Linguist of the Asantehene, Baffour Osei Akoto
There was the Muslim Association Party, The Northern Peoples’ Party, The Anlo Youth Organisation, The National Alliance for the Liberals, (NAL) The Ga Shifemokpee.
There was also The Togo land Congress Party (TCP) based in the then Trans-Volta Togo land now (Volta Region) and the Oman Party for Fantes with its headquarters in Cape Coast – Central Region.
The Convention People’s Party led by the prime minister Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was seen as the only truly national party.
Rallying the Gold Coast to his vison and slogan “One Nation, One people, One destiny”, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah sent the Avoidance of Discrimination Bill to Parliament which prohibited the formation of political parties on tribal, regional and religious grounds.
The bill passed in 1957, the year in which the British colony, the Gold Coast became independent Ghana, was a game-changer as it compelled all such parties to forge alliances.
The United Party was formed after five proscribed parties the Northern People’s Party, Musim Association PARTY (MAP), the National Liberation Movement (NLM), Anlo Youth Organisation (AYO), the Togoland Congress and the Ga Shifimokpee merged.
The new party which became the opposition to the CPP in Parliament was under the leadership of Kofi Abrefa Busia, the NLM leader. After Dr. Busia was forced into exile, Mr. S. D. Dombo from Lawra in the then Upper Region took over as the opposition leader.
Baako pointed out that NPP cannot be tagged as an Akan party when several regional, ethnic, religion-based parties came together to form its forebears the UP.
“I am really amazed…incredible. I cannot digest it”, Baako found James Algaga’s analysis distasteful.