Yankah Ought to be Forthright about NDC’s Violent Track-Record

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

He has been out of active politics for quite a remarkable span of time now, but I still continue to associate Prof. Kwesi Yankah, as well as his elder brother, Kojo, with both governments of the erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). And it is for this reason why I, personally, strongly feel that Prof. Kwesi Yankah is not quite leveling with the Ghanaian people when he linguistically and acrobatically attempts to pigeonhole both the NDC and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) into the same blotchy box of violence-prone political institutions (See “Heroes’ Fund And ‘All-Die-Be-Die’ Are Recipes For War – Prof. Kwesi Yankah” Peacefmonline.com 6/23/11).

During a recent lecture presentation that was sponsored by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the longtime Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana was quoted to be observing as follows: “The winner-takes-all mentality, as well as an emerging politics of intolerance, threatens to denigrate our social values of communication, leading to a creeping culture of combative discourse and the celebration of verbal abuse and invectives on decent political platforms.”

It is not clear exactly when Prof. Yankah came to the preceding realization, since his observation strikingly reflects the political tenor of the decade that Mr. Rawlings and his PNDC semi-junta virtually dominated the Ghanaian political landscape and culture. And, of course, it goes without saying that the PNDC-morphed, or –spawned, National Democratic Congress has almost squarely and wholly been about ideological intolerance and verbal abuse. Recently, for instance, Dr. Hannah Bissiw, the Cuban-trained veterinarian and Deputy Housing and Water Resources Minister, had occasion to intemperately describe Nana Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, as “a sexy old fool.” Dr. Bissiw would vehemently deny shortly thereafter that she had made any such remark.

Then, of course, there was a Mr. Kobby Acheampong, a deputy cabinet member of the Mills-Mahama government, who impugned the cultural civility and moral integrity of Ghanaian cocoa farmers, the very citizens whose back-breaking diligence constitutes the mainstay of the country’s economy.

What is striking here is far less the fact that these ministerial deputies would subject their political opponents and fellow citizens to such crass level of verbal abuse, but more the fact that in quite a slew of these instances of outrage, neither Messrs. John Evans Atta-Mills nor John Dramani Mahama attempted in any significant manner to rein in their minions. Indeed, it was this apparently gaping absence of leadership on the part of President Mills and his deputy that prompted a livid Ms. Ursula Owusu, the well-known lawyer and feminist activist and leading member of the NPP, to publicly wonder whether the performance rating, or evaluation, of these cabinet deputies was primarily predicated upon their wanton capacity for the verbal abuse of their opponents.

On the question of the recent establishment of a so-called Heroes’ Fund by the ruling National Democratic Congress, Prof. Yankah is dead-on-target that such fund directly and crudely invites party hacks to engage in electoral violence, particularly when Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, the NDC General-Secretary, asserts that the Heroes’ Fund is a clarion incentive for NDC operatives to fully appreciate the fact that Mr. Rawlings’ political juggernaut is worth dying for.

On the other hand, Prof. Yankah, in deliberately decontextualizing Nana Akufo-Addo’s “All-Die-Be-Die” slogan as a measured response to perennially orchestrated acts of violence and intimidation by NDC hacks against supporters and sympathizers of the NPP, does a lot of rhetorical mischief. The Legon Pro-Vice Chancellor is, however, quite right in blaming an unsavorily politicized and woefully unprofessional state security agencies and agents for much of the violent incidents occasioned by seasonal polling around the country.

In response to the NDC’s Heroes’ Fund, I solemnly call upon the National Executive Council (NEC) of the New Patriotic Party to ensure that all its key operatives assigned to polling stations, and the entire membership of the NPP Youth Wing, are collectively and severally insured by one of the major global insurance companies, such as Lloyd’s of London, in the lead-up to Election 2012. For, if, indeed, a rag-tag “Cash-and-Carry” party like the NDC is worth dying for, then, of course, it cannot equally be gainsaid that an even far more democratic and progressive New Patriotic Party is worth dying for several times over!

*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 a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.


Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame