Opinions Sat, 21 Nov 2009

Kwame, My Brother, I am Sorry, But ….

I have read your reaction to my write-up on Kwesi Pratt should be the last person to pontificate on national affairs and I must confess I feel sorry for ‘hitting you below the belt’ by including your name among those I referred to as hypocrites. You are indeed like a brother to me and I am sorry for my choice of words and expressions to describe you and the panel that took part in the discussion.

The role of a moderator or host of a programme: But Kwame, you cannot totally absolve yourself of blame. You see, Kwesi Pratt is a very mischievous person, a contention I will repeat anytime at any forum. And if you give him the leeway, he will steer the discussion to satisfy his own whims and caprices. And this, my dear Kwame, was exactly what you did on that fateful day. You abdicated or should I say, relinquished your role as moderator of the progamme and the wily fox (Kwesi Pratt) took advantage of lack of checks to unleash his long and pent up venom against me. I will entreat you to play back the tape and judge for yourself whether indeed, your really performed the role of a moderator.

Kwame, I take strong exception to notion that we must highlight the positive aspects of our nationhood which seek to unite us and de-emphasize the negative ones which seek to divide us. I regard such a statement coming from the great Kwame Sefa Kayi as the worst mantra of the century. Are you suggesting that we must not discuss negative aspects of our development just for the sake of peace? Don’t we have to disagree in order to agree? So if we notice any negative trait which is likely to affect our corporate existence as a nation, don’t we have to bring it to the notice of Ghanaians and the appropriate authorities with the aim of finding solutions to it?

A statement was made. You may call it an allegation or anything. Why don’t we find out whether the allegation is factual or was the figment of the person’s imagination? It is only after we have investigated and found out that it is untrue that we can jump at the writer and tear him to pieces as you and your panel did. Not even one member of the panel thought it prudent enough to suggest that what the person had alleged needed further investigations. And this, my brother, was what surprised me most with you as the moderator. Caution was thrown to the wind and that in itself was like hitting me also below the best.

Kwame, I expected you, as moderator of the programme to call for restraint and even a halt when it dawned on you that Iku Kwesi Pratt was at his best element attacking people who are not of his own political dispensation. After the programme had ended, you could have called me to ask for my own reaction to such a sensitive and volatile national issue. It was only Bobbie Ansah of Asempa FM who called me to react to the discussion on your programme.

Kwame, I still take you up on your contention that anything that seeks to divide us must be swept under the carpet. In other words you want us to go back to the era of the culture of silence which was akin to the state of nature when life was very short, nasty and brutish. The Bawku crisis persists today because those who have the power to act have for political reasons refused to tell the truth the way it should be told. And by the way, how do you come by what is negative and divisive and what is positive and unifying? I bet, if you were to take a survey of Ghanaians, you will find out that most people share the similar sentiments.

Since the discussions, a lot of people have sought to demonize me by calling me uncharitable names, all due to your mishandling of the programme and allowing Iku Kwesi Pratt to bamboozle, harass and intimidate you into ceding your role as moderator to him. To those who have doubted my Christian principles I leave them to their own personal opinions and judgement. But I don’t begrudge them for anything. I want to refer such people to what Jesus did at the Temple when he used the whip and turned the entire place upside down. At that time, most of the people regarded him as anti-establishment. His voice then was the only one in the wilderness. He opened the eyes of the ordinary people and today the people are much wiser.

Kwame, what I sought to do in my write-up was to create an enabling environment where Ghanaians would be free to live in the country as one people with one common destiny. This will eliminate suspicion and prevent those from other tribes from looking at Ewes as their enemies. What President Mills is doing is setting up the Ewes against the rest of the country. This is very bad. Instead of calling on the President to rectify this seemingly orchestrated policy of deliberately setting one tribe against the rest of the country, all you could do was to describe me as a nation wrecker, tribalist and unpatriotic, then I say May God have Mercy upon us!

We were all in this country when Togbe Afede made his infamous pronouncement to the effect that the Ewes had felt like strangers on their own land during Kufuor’s administration even though he Togbe Afede had enjoyed some 'largesse' under Kufuor including Board membership of Bank of Ghana. Kufuor was very instrumental in ensuring that his power project saw the light of the day. When I took him up on his unguarded statement, many were those who descended heavily on me. To buttress his point, he cited the example that Kufuor had never attended any festivals in the Region. He had a point on that but that never made the people in the Volta Region second rated citizens. Now Kwame, can you tell me your reaction to that public pronouncement by Togbe Afede? What did Iku Kwesi Pratt say about that? Was that not a dangerous statement capable of cementing the divisive tendencies that already exist among the various ethnic groups that constitute our nationhood?

Ex President Rawlings tirade against Ashantis: Kwame, I hope you do recollect ex-President Rawlings ethnic remarks about the Ashantis during the Chereponi bye-election. He said during his regime, he had advocated for family planning, but the Ashantis, for political reasons shunned his call. Was that not an indictment of Muslims whose religion allows them to marry more than one wife? Strangely enough, not Kwesi Pratt, not even you, Kwame Sefa Kayi spoke against it. Did you at that time subpoena him to your den to be subjected to the kind of tirade you and your panel poured on me? Not even a verbal reprimand!

People are worried about Mills’ style: The Chief of Nsein made a public comment about attempts to sideline his ethnic division on appointments and refusal of the Presidency to give them audience at the Castle. The Chief obviously was speaking the minds of the silent majority. Recently, when the Okyeman University at Bunso was to be officially opened, the President was invited as the Guest of Honour. He accepted to be present, but on the day of the inauguration, he was conspicuously absent. Not even a junior Minister or Staff from his office was sent to represent him. Some will say Ofosu Ampofo was present. Yes, he was present, but not as a representative of the President. He was invited in his official capacity as Regional Minister and obviously as someone from the Okyeman Division, he could not afford to be absent. Already, people are saying the President’s failure to attend the function is a slight on Okyeman. I do not agree with the proponents of such a notion.

All that some of us seek to do is to drum it into the ears of the Advisors to the President and the Council of State that all these seemingly innocuous remarks by individual citizens of Ghana should not be treated with contempt. They deserved urgent attention from the Presidency, and the earlier this was done, the better it would be for our corporate existence as Ghanaians.

The Zoning System: The fact that I have raised such an issue does not make me a tribalist. Vibrant nations are built with contributions from all sections of the country. In the same way, the national cake is shared proportionally among all the ethnic divisions of the country. And that is why zoning has become entrenched in the politics of Nigeria. If the President comes from the South West as it was the case during the regime of Obasanjo, the Senate President would have to come from the East while the speaker of the House of Representatives comes from the Core North and the Majority Leader comes from the Middle Belt. That was done to ensure peaceful co-existence amongst the ethnic groups that constitute the Nigerian Federation. If the President erred and made appointments, not in consonance with the zoning system of the party or country and somebody brought it to the attention of the public that would not make him a public enemy as you and your panel sought to portray during the kokorooko programme which you hosted. After all, if someone from my tribe or region is given appointment, it will neither add nor detract anything from my personality. Is he going to put free food on my table? Obviously, not! So, why should I bother my poor head over it? But my concern is that not everybody sees such appointments from my own perspective. And it is such danger that I want averted anytime I pick up my pen to write. People question my credentials as to what I did during the NPP regime. I did write many articles critical of Government handling of certain sensitive issues. I would refer readers to the piece titled “The Man Died" which was an indictment of Government’s and the Police handling of the Anlo’s crissis. The “other side of the story” also condemns the Government and the Police on the Teleku-Bokazzo mining crisis. I have taken the Asantehene on some issues I regarded as being detrimental to the growth and development of the country. Reader should read my write-ups on “Manhyia Should Speak Up” and “Abolish this obnoxious Law, Okyeman”. . So when people sit down in the comforts of their rooms and studios to lauch verbal attacks on my personality, such people do not know what they are doing.

The Nigerian Situation We always use Nigeria as example of many situations that are likely to occur in this country if we do not put things in their right perspectives. It will be pertinent to remind fellow Ghanaians of what happened in Nigeria when Major Gideon Orkar staged his abortive coup. He felt t was time to remedy the perceived injustices the Middle Belt and the other areas had suffered at the hands of the core-North which was made up of the Fulani oligarchy. He decided to excise the core-North from the rest of the country. Thank God, the coup was crushed. Let us not behave like Nero, the mad emperor who was playing the fiddle while Rome was on fire.

Kwame, let me also refer you to the immediate cause of the Nigerian Civil War. It was the fear of domination by any of the three major ethnic groups that precipitated the crisis. The first coup was led by Ibos and most of the casualties were Northerners. It is said that there was the tacit understanding among the planners that the leadership at both Federal and Regional levels were to be eliminated. The President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was an Ibo, Michel Okpara was the Prime Minister of the East, Ahmadu Bello, the Saduana of Sokoto was a Hausa Fulani and Prime Minister of Northern Nigeria. Sir Tafawa Balewa was the Federal Prime Minister and also of Hausa Fulani stock. Samuel Ladoke Akintola was Prime Minister of Western Region. The two regions, minus the East had their leaders executed. There was the unsubstantiated allegation that the coup was staged to give Ibos a domineering position in the country and that Azikiwe might have been alerted to flee the country before the coup. Whether this was what actually happened or not I cannot say. But suffice it to say that, the Hausa-Fulani felt they had been short-changed and so staged a counter coup,. Ojukwu refused to accept the leadership of Yakubu Gowon with the excuse that Brigadier Ogundipe was the next in rank to take over the administration of the country after the demise of General Aguiyi Ironsi. It was the intransigence positions taken by these two leaders that precipitated the Civil War. I am not a prophet of doom but all that I am saying is that the appointments so far made by the Mills administration have the potential of causing disunity and disaffection among the citizens of the country.

Koku Anyidoho’s utterances: Kwame, I would like to know whether you discussed Koku Anyidoho’s statement that he hates ex President’s Kufuor’s’ face more than any other person in Ghana. “I don’t like his face, so I don’t want to hear anything about him”. Did you condemn him with such a passion as you and your panel did to me on that day? Did your steer the discussion to a level where every member of the panel would descend heavily upon him? Which of the two utterances is negative and capable of cementing the divisions within the country? My own was to alert the nation to a canker which was gradually eating away those things that held us together as a nation, whiles Koku’s own was geared towards hatred for a person who has just relinquished power to his political opponents.

What about Koku Anyidoho’s threat to Adomako Baafi? Hear him: “Adomako Baafi, I say you will not be allowed. We know what you have done and what you are running away from. And I say Adomako Baafi, you will not be allowed”. Was that a threat or what and how did you, Kwame, my dear friend and brother do about it? What about Kwesi Pratt?

Candidate Mills ethnic remarks against then President Kufuor. Kwame, what did you and Kwesi Pratt do or say when the then candidate Mills made his infamous declaration that Kufuor didn’t care about the plight of the fisher folks in the coastal areas because there is no sea in Ashanti Region where the ex-President comes from? Which statement is more divisive than that? You allowed such a remark to go unnoticed. You and your panelists did not regard it as negative and divisive. But today, because I, Daniel Danquah Damptey, an insignificant fly has drawn the public attention to a dangerous trend which is factual and capable of affecting our collective existence as one great people with a common destiny, you deliberately steered the discussion to a point where Kwesi Pratt was at his best elements. Well, I did not think that was funny

The True nature of Iku Kwesi Pratt: I will repeat my contention anywhere, every time that Kwesi Pratt is devious, selfish, unpatriotic, callous and not trustworthy. To support this fact, let facts be supplied a candid world. He supported J.J.Rawlings after he had parted ways with the Alliance for Change. Rumours had it that money had changed hands between the two, but I cannot say whether this was true or not. But Kwesi, knowing very well where his bread is buttered parted ways with Rawlings only after the latter started attacking his newly found love, President Attta Mills. It will interest you to know that Pratt’s links with the Mills administration was built on the element of self preservation for that probably enabled him to secure a bank loan with which he was able to put up a mansion. So anyone who attacks his ‘massa’ will surely incur his wrath. Do you see his demeanour anytime he criticizes the Mills administration? Doesn’t that suggest to you that he is not serious with his criticisms? He always plays to populism. Was he not the person who spoke on behalf of the CJA that if Mills did not reduce the increase in the price of petroleum products within ten days, the committee will embark on a public demonstration? The ten days have since elapsed and what we are hearing is that, it was Kwesi’s own personal views, not that of the CJA. He smiles in a sneering and sinister way thus making Caesar’s description of Cassius fit him very well. Since when has Pratt defended ex-President Kufuor? But the other day, he was on air, moving from one radio station to the other castigating ex-President Rawlings for calling ex-President Kufuor names at an international forum in Germany. He wanted to prove to his newly found friends that any one who attacks or criticizes his “massa" (President Mills) is an enemy of the unrepentant Kwesi Pratt.

Now to the mother of all Revelations: Do you doubt my contention that Kwesi Pratt is a hypocrite and not a person to be trusted? Please hold your breath. Go to Ghana web or Ghana review and access”The untold story of Pratt’s ‘betrayal'. It tells the chilling story of how Kwesi Pratt’s revelations at Gondar Barracks led to the arrest and torture and incarceration of his erst-while friends, Kweku Baako, Freddie Blay and Kwasi Agbley. This came from the “horse’s” (WO1 Adjei Boadi) own mouth at the National Reconciliation Commission. And mind you Warrant Officer Adjei Boadi was a member of the PNDC regime and he was categorical on his assertion that Kwesi Pratt was a PNDC informer and a double agent. If after reading, you have any reservations, you can climb to the highest heavens and proclaim Daniel Danquah Damptey as the greatest liar that ever walks this narrow and sinful world of ours. Kwesi is simply dishonest, greedy, selfish, manipulative, and unpatriotic. There can be no two ways about that!

And by the way, is it true that his paper, "The Insight" was set up for him free of charge by Kofi Coomson, publisher of the “Chronicle"?

Conclusion: The issue of appointments by the President is a very sensitive issue that we cannot sweep under the carpet. It should not be regarded as a no-go area under any circumstance. There cannot be any peace without justice as Rawlings used to say. The NDC made a hell lot of noise about Kufuor's appointees which included his brother as a Minister. Probably that was one of the reasons that swept the NPP from power. President Mills does not have to chart the same course. Already Mills has appointed his twin brother as a member of his Economic Management Team and to other Boards. When Dr Addo Kufuor decided to contest the NPP presidential Primaries, I personally led a public campaign against his decision and had a fierce verbal exchange with his campaign co-coordinator. I felt at that time that the Kufuor family was not a ruling dynasty in the country and so he should step aside or shelve his presidential ambition at least for some time. I also told the people of my town that it was unfair for the town to be given both the DCE and the MP's slots. My stance was made public because I believe in the principle of fairness and natural justice.

In the same vein, I expect our brethren from the Volta Region to repudiate some of the Ministerial positions for the sake of peaceful co-existence. Colonel Umar Abubakar is a Prince from the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy in Nigeria, but he has been condemning the unfair distribution of the national cake and appointments in favour of the North and earned the nick-name 'anti-establishment'. This is what we expect our brothers and sisters from the Volta Region to do.

If we don’t discuss this issue today, our children and grand children of tomorrow would insist that the matter be tabled at their time. I repeat my assertion that it is unfair and against the principle of natural justice and our collective existence as one people with a common destiny for one ethnic group and region to be given all the juicy portfolios and more than half of appointments into public corporations. Other groups have equal stake in the sharing of the national cake. The President should be told by his advisers and the Council of State to retrace his steps and do the right thing so as to give a sense of belongings to all Ghanaians.

We cannot postpone to tomorrow what we can do for the people of Ghana today. The issue of giving more appointments to people from one ethnic group and region to the detriment of all other groups and Regions can no longer be parried away just like that. We need to discuss it and the time to do so is now!!

Daniel Danquah Damptey E-Mail Address: - danieldanquah_damptey@yahoo.com
Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah