Bimbilla madness and the northern scourge

Riots Foto File File photo

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 Source: Eric Bawah

Today, I am hunched with sorrow, pain and anger. Anytime I try to write about internecine and tribal wars in the Northern Region, I feel like being my irreverent self. Sometimes, I feel ashamed of being a Northerner in the first place. Even though there have been some skirmishes in other areas of Ghana as far as chieftaincy issues are concerned, what is happening in the northern region is too much and the earlier something is done about it, the better.

What is most disheartening is that our leaders always treat the symptoms rather than the causes. In other jurisdictions, the services of psychologists are needed to fight the canker. During the PNDC era, the fight that broke out between Konkomas and Dagombas, as well as the one between Nanumbas and Konkomas, left behind death, pain and destruction of properties.

In fact, some military men who went there to control the situation ended up being killed by the warring factions. Then Chairman J.J Rawlings had to go there personally at the peril of his life to admonish the protagonists to lay down their arms and jaw jaw. He even went further to admonish them to act like human beings. When Rawlings made that statement, his enemies took him on, saying he insulted them and he must apologize as such.

The Kusasi and Mamprusi wars continue to hang in the air as any false move can trigger another crush. The uninitiated person living in Accra or any town in southern Ghana may think there is peace in Bawku but the truth is that the peace between the Kusasis and Mamprusis is like the one between the cat and the mouse. The two live in one house together and so any visitor to the house may think they live in peace. Let the mouse come out and there you will see that there is no peace in the house.

Go to Bawku and you will see that the once vibrant market town is a pail town with people suspecting each other. Business men and women who used to patronize the market from across the boarders prefer to go to Hamile in Burkina Faso to trade because they do not know what will happen one day as they do their businesses.

Until the day that we will get a substantive Yaa Naa, Yendi the seat of the Dagbon Kingdom will continue to be volatile. The Abudus and Andanis are tactically at war yet Ghanaians particularly those who matter in the scheme of thing pretend everything is alright. Ever since the last clash which led to the unfortunate murder of the overlord of Dagbon, Yaa Naa Yacubu Andani, Dagbon has never been the same again.

Every year when the Bugum festival is about to be celebrated, people in Yendi sit on tenterhooks because anything at all can happen. The Asanthene’s Committee of Imminent Chiefs who were charged by the Kufour administration to see to it that peace returned to Dagbon was not allowed to work by the Mills/Mahama administration.

Here we are with a new regime which has created a ministry in charge of the zongos and inner cities headed by no mean a person than a zongo boy called Boniface Saddique and yet zongo is on fire at Bimbilla. This Bimbilla madness should be the last thing about violence that Ghanaians will hear coming from the north. People talk about poverty as a root cause of what is happening in Bimbilla.

If you are poor and frustrated, does it mean you should kill women and children? If you hear of houses being burnt in such communal violence in the north, you may be misled into thinking that the houses look like the ones you see at East Legon or Trassaco.

They are thatched houses covered with leaves. And whenever there is any trouble one can easily set the house ablaze with a scratch of a match stick. Instead of thinking of how to better their lot, these people prefer adding more fire to their already sorry and miserable state.

The time has come for us to tell them in plain words that even as they continue to fight among themselves and spill the blood of innocent souls, Ghana and the world, for that matter, continue to move forward. Nobody is waiting for them since the world is on the move with new technologies being invented on daily basis.

What is most disturbing is that investors will never go up there to put their moneys into any business which may create jobs and prosperity for the teeming youth in the north. Because the devil finds work for the idle hands, the youth in these areas will jump into the fight if even they are not invited to do so.

Before the recent violence which erupted in Bimbilla, I attended a friend’s funeral in the town and what I saw was heart-racing. Able-bodied boys and girls were roaming the streets aimlessly, while unschooled urchins sit under tress with hunger boldly written on their faces, wondering where the next meal will come from.

I became so angry that I nearly did what Madam Otiko Djaba did. In fact, I cursed all those who took part in the looting of the SADA moneys. How can people be so wicked? If you happen to visit some villages in the north and see the level of poverty, you will stand to pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe.

We all seem to agree that there is poverty in the north and the situation is so desperate that something needs to be done to safe the situation. So when the SADA was introduced, we all thought at last things will improve so that the people up there will smile. It is very unfortunate that those who were put in charge and who are also northerners condoned and connived with civil servants to dupe the people they are supposed to help.

It has been nearly three years since the guinea fowls migrated to Burkina Faso and they are yet to return to the shores of Ghana. Oh, mother Ghana! Madam Gloria Akufo, the Attorney General, must, as a matter of urgency, start preparing the necessary legal documents and haul these people before court to face justice, else some other guys may cheat the people again and go free. If she starts doing that and anyone calls it witch-hunting, such a person would be called a witch.

In the run-up to the 2012 general elections, Nana Addo muted the idea of Savanna Development Fund which was hijacked by the NDC and renamed Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). President Akufo-Addo must revisit the ADF and put a competent person to be in charge, irrespective of where the person comes from. If a northerner could be so callous to dupe his own people, President Akufo-Addo should look elsewhere to get an honest and competent person to do the job. It looks as if northerners are their own enemies. Look at Asongtaaba and DKM (Dele K. Martin)?

The time has also come for all members of parliament from the Northern Region and, of course, businessmen and women in the big cities who hail from the Northern Region to come together, irrespective of their political leanings to help turn things around for their people. Henry Ford once wrote that coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success.

If the NPP government says the government will establish one factory in one district, it doesn’t mean the government alone can do that. Strategic investors have a role to play here and I am aware we have resourceful businessmen and women from the Northern Region, both at home and abroad who can join the wagon. This is a national clarion call and everybody should get on board so that when the history of the success story is being written they would find their names written in gold.

Similarly, these businessmen and women and the MPs can also target one village each and construct a dam to encourage the youth to stay home and cultivate, tomatoes, onions, pepper, okra and other crops. If a desert country like Burkina Faso can construct several dams to cultivate vegetables all year round, I don’t see the reason why Ghana cannot do same.

The Nasia Rice field is lying fallow while the youth travel down south to find menial jobs. The government must revamp the Nasia Rice fields by importing combine harvesters, tractors, and fertilizers for the farmers there who undoubtedly will be happy to get involve like it used to happen during the Acheampong region. If this particular project is revamped and resourced I am sure the nation will reduce the importation of foreign produced rice which is weighing so much on the economy.

Do you know we used to have Tiger Pito Factory in the Tamale? In the early seventies when that factory was producing Tiger Pito, it was fashionable to order Tiger Pito when one patronized discotheques and beer bars as well as hotels and super markets. Apart from the fact that the drink was relatively cheap, it was also nutritious and as patriotic citizens we felt proud to drink Tiger Pito. Farmers who used to cultivate millet had a field day since the factory bought the millet at high price to produce Tiger Pito. I am looking forward to the day an investor will invest in the production of Tiger Pito.

Excuse me while I light my Havana.

Columnist: Eric Bawah
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