President Mahama campaigned on the invidious concept of a mono-ethnic north

Thu, 28 Apr 2016 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

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

Garden City, New York

April 24, 2016

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

Before I settled on the caption of this article, I toyed with two other possibilities, namely, “Telling the Truth is No Academic Disgrace, Dr. Apaak,” and “Amoako-Baah Told It Like It Is.” Indeed, when he made the statement attributed to him, Dr. Richard Amoako-Baah was more specific than the reporter from Classfmonline.com whose report sought to cast the same for widespread public consumption. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) political scientist had stated that “I’d bet [that] more than 60-percent of key government positions in this country are filled by northerners” (See “Amoako-Baah Is ‘A Disgrace to Academia’ – Apaak” Modernghana.com 4/11/16).

What is significant to note here is the fact that campaigning for the presidency in 2012, then-Interim President John Dramani Mahama publicly and shamelessly cast himself as the only authentic hope for the “catching-up” development of the so-called Three Northern Regions. His authority for making such a civically biased and politically invidious statement was indisputably and unabashedly based on the fact that the campaigner himself had been born Up-North. If anybody in Ghana, intellectual or non-intellectual, gave the clearly erroneous impression that the northern-half of the country was mono-linguistically and ethnically composed, that personality was definitely none other than President John Dramani Mahama, and not Dr. Richard Amoako-Baah.

And so one is totally at a loss as to why Dr. Clement Apaak, the northern-born so-called presidential staffer, would so virulently accuse Dr. Amoako-Baah of deviously seeking to characterize the entire northern geopolitical sphere as an area that was wholly constituted by a single ethnic group. I have pointed out the fact that until Election 2016 drew dangerously and uncomfortably nigh, President Mahama had surrounded himself almost exclusively with Ghanaians of northern descent, among them Drs. Raymond Atuguba and Apaak, of course; Mr. Mahama Ayariga and one of the Jinapor brothers, and a platoon of Anlo-Ewe loyalists. Looking at the profile of his cabinet appointees in the pre-Debrah era, one would have had a hard time imagining the fact that Akans, at approximately 50-percent of the entire population of the country (the figure could actually be higher, depending on how any census taker reckoned the same), constituted the single largest ethnic group in Ghana.

Well, it is true that in failing to back up his assertion with facts and figures, Dr. Amoako-Baah did what most academicians who are very much concerned about their credibility and social reputation would not do, by leaving himself facilely open to the sort of attack launched by Dr. Apaak. But it is equally egregious that in seeking to set the records straight, and Dr. Amoako-Baah aright, as it were, Dr. Apaak does not provide his audience with the sort of facts and figures that would have effectively, even if not permanently, silenced this ardent and most vocal critic of the Mahama government. Instead, we have Dr. Apaak desperately thrashing about and vacuously rehashing what most reasonably well-educated Ghanaians have always known – which is the fact that Northern Ghana is composed of a multiplicity of ethnic and linguistic polities.

Indeed, he may not readily have the fact and figures to back up his observations and statements, but it is only the most unconscionable and morally reckless cynic who would seriously dispute the fact that virtually all the presidents of Ghana’s Fourth Republic have packed the most powerful and significant positions in their cabinet with “kith and kin,” the way Dr. Amoako-Baah put it. I have personally had occasion to write and publish an article criticizing then-President John Agyekum-Kufuor for appointing his younger brother, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, as his Defense Minister and gotten “hurricanely” run out of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by a group that I labeled as the “Edweso/Ejisu Faction” of NPP-USA.

What I had actually said was that it would have been more politically savvy if President Kufuor had appointed his physician brother Ghana’s Health Minister, with the portfolio of Defense Minister logically going to Maj-Gen Hamidu, who had previously served as President Kufuor’s National Security Advisor. Now let’s get to the brass-tacks: There is absolutely nothing either disgraceful or unacademic about Dr. Amoako-Baah’s merely echoing what President Mahama has been preaching to Ghanaian voters, particularly those of northern ethnic descent, all along – which is that all the people of northern Ghana are inviolably homogeneous, even when the facts of history and practical reality point to a wholly different narrative.

Dr. Apaak may do himself and the rest of us great good by explaining precisely why Mr. Mahama, his magnanimous paymaster, rabidly attacked Nana Akufo-Addo in the heat of the 2012 presidential-election campaign, when the New Patriotic Party’s candidate promised to upgrade the dismal and insufferable living conditions of female head porters, or kayayei, with the provision of clean and affordable housing facilities. You see, those who live in straw-huts had better desist from playing with match sticks.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame