General News of 2014-03-16

From truck pusher, palm tapping to Gen. Mosquito

For daring to ask his uncles to put him in school so he could become somebody in future, the ruling National Democratic Congress’ General Secretary, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, was locked up behind doors and whacked profusely.

Looking back to those days, however, he offers a hopeful laughter convinced that he made the right choice. That is the beginning of the story of one of Ghana’s enigmatic political scribes.

Born on December 24, 1956 in Seikwa, Brong Ahafo Region, Mr. Asiedu Nketia was not born with a golden spoon in mouth, as he had to distill local gin, popularly called ‘akpeteshie', tap palm wine and even push trucks to educate himself while facing huge protest from his uncles who wanted him to abandon his education to inherit their cocoa farms in his village.

In a personality interview on Joy FM, General Mosquito, as he is popularly called, narrated how he had to do menial jobs secretly to pay for his education because his uncles, very rich cocoa farmers didn’t see the need for him to go to school.

“My uncles didn’t want me to go to school. There was a time when I was loitering around, and I was apprehended by the young pioneers who later in the evening came to warn my uncles that I should be taken to school, or they will face prosecution. I was put under surveillance that I shouldn’t be furthering my education because I was being prepared to inherit cocoa farms so try as I did nobody will listen to me. There were occasions when my teachers came to tell my uncles that I was a very brilliant chap and that I would be losing out if I was not sent to college. After my teachers had left, they kept me behind doors and gave me terrible beatings.”

A very brilliant student that he was, Mr. Asiedu Nketia said he always came among the top three in his class, and that was a more reason why he was not discouraged by his uncles’ actions.

“I was a very brilliant student, and I saw people who were far less brilliant furthering their education and I felt that my future was in education…I did all types of odd jobs and, in fact, I had push truck before I could earn enough money to buy forms to register for teacher training college …I did all these in absolute secrecy.”

Although General Mosquito did not have any formal classroom education for his GCE Ordinary and Advanced level, he painstakingly studied to pass for the O and A ’level exam for admission into the School of Administration, now the University of Ghana Business School.

“…I decided to write GCEO’level and then continue my education, so I bought recommended text books and studied and within a year I passed the GCEO’level…since nobody wanted to sponsor, I said I should be trying to prepare myself to go to university on study leave. So I then decided to buy another set of books for the A’level.”

By age 22, General Mosquito, who had emerged the best out of the 1978 class of St Joseph's Training College, became the de facto ruler of Seikwa, at a time when a chieftaincy dispute nearly broke the town up.

With no ambitions of being a politician, Mr. Asiedu Nketiah managed to organise the people of Seikwa to undertake several developmental projects, and that catapulted him into the realm of politics.

“Politics had never been my ambition at all. I never thought for once that I would be a politician,” he said. But after his performance as the town development committee secretary, the people of Seikwa saw the potential in him to represent them in Parliament.

He took advantage of the District Assembly elections in 1998, won and was later nominated to the National Consultative Assembly set up to draw up the 1992 constitution.

Because of his diminutive stature, General Mosquito was not the taste of the young women he had set eyes on as his first two girlfriends thought he was not suitable enough for any of them.

But as fate had it, he met his wife at a sports competition organised for members of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), who, according to him, got attracted to him because, “when we were doing sports, they look for a brilliant teacher who could speak English to be the announcer. So my wife got attracted to me by being an announcer.”

With five children now, the General says his love for Ghana and work schedules as a politician makes it impossible for him to have time for his family.

“My wife and children have gotten used to my work schedule but they do complain at times. We have a duty to discharge whatever we are capable of in the service of the nation first. I’m sorry for my family, but I put the nation first before anything else.”

Not bothered about the insults hurled at him, Mr. Asiedu-Nketia, however, notes that, his greatest fear is leaving a bad record for his children “because I will one day leave this world, and I don’t want to leave a bad record that my children will not be proud of.”

“That is why anybody who insults me, I don’t mind them but if you allege criminality I will fight you.”

In his concluding remarks, the General advised Ghanaians to stand by the truth at all times no matter how bitter it may sound.

He noted, “Whatever you go through, please speak the truth, and you shall be free. The truth always because the truth shall set you free.”