I’ve Suffered The Tribalism Card

Wed, 1 May 2013 Source: Ziem, Joseph

“I’ve Suffered The Tribalism Card” –UDS Staff

By Joseph Ziem

Last week, I decided to bring to a closure the chapter on the perceived tribalism, nepotism and ineptitude, which has over the years permeated the administrative structures of the University for Development Studies [UDS].

Unfortunately, a cousin of mine called Iddrisu Mahama Tanko, a PhD Research student of the Leicester University in the United Kingdom, who claims he has been working in the UDS since 1999, decided to bother me in a rejoinder to my recent article on the UDS captioned:“I Bear No Grudge Against My Cousins or UDS” via electronic mail.

Tanko [my Dagomba cousin], who appears to know almost everything happening in the UDS because he is an insider, disclosed that Dagaabas constitute 70 to 80 percent of the workforce at the Wa campus of the university whiles Kassenas constitute the majority at the Navrongo campus.

He continued with his argument that in the Nyankpala and Tamale campuses of the UDS, Dagombas constitute less than 50 percent of the labour force, adding that all vice-chancellors come with their drivers and always reshuffle the staff in their office in order to bring in their tribesmen. “Go there now and see, Prof. Haruna maintained Professor Nokoe’s driver and all his staff. There is not even a single Dagomba in his office,” he stated.

My cousin further disclosed that, the Assistant Registrar is Fanti, the driver a Kassena, the two Administrative Assistants a Builsa and a Dagaaba and the clerk a Dagaaba. Thus, he asked why I am calling Prof. Haruna an ethnocentric person.

According to my cousin, the Pro-Vice Chancellor is also from the Eastern Region, the Auditor a Frafra, the Director of Development a Frafra, the Head of Security a Dagaaba, the Registrar a Gonja and of all the more than 12 Deans of the UDS, only one is a Dagomba in addition to the Finance Officer and the Director of the Centre for Continuing Education and Interdisciplinary Research [CCEIR].

Justifying his rather ethnocentric comments, he noted that: “But there was once upon a time when all the top hierarchy [referring to UDS] was either Frafras, Dagaabas or Kassenas but Dagombas did not let hell break loose, even when we got the chance it was a cool headed V.C who does not like tribalism. Let me tell you that we are insiders and what we have seen over the years only God can tell”, he boasted, adding that “I have been working there since 1999, and even suffered the tribalism card.”

Regrettably, my cousin descended recklessly into the gutter this time around, like someone who has gone round the bent with categorical statements such as “Prof. Kaburise (RIP) facilitated the exit of very dedicated academics from UDS to other universities. People like Professor Djan Fodjour, Rector of Sunyani Poly, Professor Obodai and Ibn Yahaya, Dr Lawson and others”. And again, he repulsively asked where I and my hidden sponsors were when all of this happened?

My dear cousin, let me now answer some of the frivolous questions you asked in your rejoinder to me which include “Are you telling us that you are more philosophical than some of us who read your articles?; Why can’t you go and seek audience with the VC and let him know that these are some of the issues that people complain about?; Since when did you realize that there is discrimination in terms of employment?; How can you call this person a tribalist?; and Where were you and your hidden sponsors?

Why should people like you Tanko think or even suggest that I should go and seek audience with the V.C of UDS and let him know some of the issues that people are complaining about? The V.C as you ought to know, has so many advisers who are paid employees of the university. Why should it take an independent journalist like me to advise him when he is surrounded by some of the best brains in society? Or you suspect that some of those people perhaps want his downfall and for that matter, will not advise him appropriately even when they see trouble coming?

I doff my hat for Prof. Haruna Yakubu for being the first V.C of the UDS to institute an annual press soiree that seeks to bring representatives of various media houses in Tamale so that they [university top hierarchy] and journalists can share relevant ideas on the way forward of the UDS. It is at an occasion like this, that I can have audience with our V.C and seek clarifications regarding all the complaints and allegations I receive from people who seemed not to have a voice. But, I and like many others, who are perhaps not recognized as journalists by some persons within the UDS, don’t get that rare opportunity to sit with the V.C and on behalf of our ‘CONSTITUENTS’ pour out their frustrations and concerns. So, what do you expect? Your guess is as good as mine.

Tanko my cousin, I have never and ever sought to suggest in any of my previous articles and even in this one which am sure you’ll read again, that Prof. Haruna Yakubu is tribalist or ethnocentric. I only appeared to have challenged him and his officers to solve the protracted issues regarding tribalism, nepotism and ineptitude in the current administration of which he is the HEAD. Many people including me can’t afford to continue to see such problems after he leaves office. It should be possible to record it in black and white, that it was during his era that such issues were dealt with properly [all issues resolved] and not that he came and met them and left them unresolved like his predecessors did.

Moreover, let me tell you Tanko my cousin that I have no sponsors as you sought to accuse me of. Besides, I don’t belong to that category of journalists who are sponsored to write. What I am doing as a stakeholder of the UDS is peer reviewing the activities of the university and its administration by simply asking serious questions that deserve some answers.

Nonetheless, the only thing I hesitate to commend you for is your disclosure of what I called “unspeakable composition” of staff in the Wa and Navrongo campuses of the UDS. I must say the prevailing situation on the two campuses smells of bias. The UDS is not a University for Dagaaba Studies, and so no Dagaaba should think that because it has a campus in Wa then it must necessarily be dominated by Dagaabas or any of the other tribes in the Upper West Region. It is equally wrong if the Navrongo campus of the UDS is dominated by Kassenas as you [my cousin] just revealed to me. This Stone Age thinking that if your mother is in the funeral house then you should be served the best meal is a fallacy. No one should encourage that myopic thinking. However, if it is only members of a particular tribe who are showing interest in jobs in the university and are applying for them with the requisite qualifications, then I don’t think there is anything wrong employing them.

My cousin, I believe you’re not also suggesting that the Nyankpala and Tamale campuses of the UDS should be dominated by Dagombas? My previous articles were based on some of these narrow-minded thoughts which I seriously believe do not augur well for national cohesion. Anybody who applies for a job in the UDS with the requisite qualifications should not be disqualified because s/he does not belong to a particular or a so-called superior tribe. The UDS is for all Ghanaians and not for a particular group of people only.

Finally, Tanko you also think that the Public Relations Officer or Office of the UDS has given me a field day to say anything I like with my pen and therefore, as you put it, you would have it tough with the PRO when you come to Ghana in a couple of weeks time. I’ll urge you to work with all who matter in the media in Tamale, that is if you are coming to take up the job of PR. Don’t operate like the current staff in the PR Department who only know how to engage in discrimination and selective invitation of journalists to UDS events or programmes. As for me, I’ll continue to cover programmes of the university even if I’m not invited. But I’m waiting to be treated as a gatecrasher at any event of the university if anybody thinks that I don’t publish what pleases him. I rest my case.

The writer is a freelance journalist but regularly writes for The Daily Dispatch Newspaper. Views or comments may be sent to him via ziemjoseph@yahoo.com/ +233 207344104.

Columnist: Ziem, Joseph