By Dr. Hippolyt Pul
I refuse to read this piece with a political lens and hope you do, too. Dr. Pul, in this piece, deconstructed the tag ‘northerner’ and the noun ‘inferior’ in a well nuanced manner. His op-ed is a thorough reflection on the worth of Northerners in our political dispensation. Here are Dr. Pul’s thoughts as culled from his Facebook page. He said:
I have followed the stories of what President Mahama is reported to have said in respect of Dr. Bawumia’s role as a mere pawn in the hands of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). I have also followed the stream of justifications and condemnations that have added fuel to our political excitements.
I have also followed stories about a tape recording in Twi that is seeking to confirm how one group looks down on Northerners and will forever keep and use them as vassals or at best second fiddles in their political game plans. Under normal circumstances, I would have taken the advice of a friend who recommended dismissal of all of the above as the product of mediocre minds seeking to reduce the intelligence of others to their levels in order to make their own thinking shine.
As a northerner, however, I actually feel more insulted by anyone who wants to make me believe that I, as a northerner, must know, believe, and accept that some group of people consider me by reason only of my ethnicity and/or place of birth. I feel strongly insulted by the idea that someone actually wants me to believe that I cannot be what I want to be in this country on my own right and merit but that I must rely on some accident or the gratuitous acts of others to be what I ought to be.
As a person, I know that anybody can project himself or herself as superior to another; but that feeling only materializes into real subordination when and only when those on whom the inferior status is conferred accept and live with the terms and conditions of inferiority. As a northerner who has lived, schooled, and worked in this country, I have never felt inferior to anyone - white, brown, or black; northerner, easterner, southerner, or westerner, under any circumstances.
I have taught all who look to me for guidance not to buy into any crap on northern inferiority. So the least I expected from northern leaders, and particularly, the sitting President who is the second northerner to occupy that seat of honor, is to tell us the northerners that we ought to accept that we are inferior beings in the eyes of others; that such people will use us as their slaves and scapegoats and “dump us” as they wish; and that we should expect not to be given a dog’s chance in certain arenas.
Such attempts to construct and perpetuate an inferiority complex among people that one purports to lead out of their conditions of relative deprivation is not only the litmus test of leadership failure on the part of the proponents of such views; it betrays how such leaders would like to perpetuate such mental enslavements of their own people so that they can then exploit their fears and resentments arising from such blockages for their own political ends as and when they need them.
It is an exploitation of the principles of self-fulfilling prophecies in which people are made to be what they believe they are because that is what has been suggested to them.
In sum, I feel gravely insulted by the view that, as a northerner, I and my brothers, sisters, and children are being made to accept and live with the worldview that northerners cannot compete on their own merits for the highest office in Ghana via the medium of a political party unless they get help from the death of a sitting President or are wave-carried in no-contest acclamations by their political party kingmakers without a test of their competencies against those of other candidates.
That view is an insult to the memory of Dr. Hilla Limann who demonstrated that a northerner can compete and win the Presidency of this country on his or her own merit. Indeed, the fact that Limann ran and won the elections against a field of Akan candidates (Victor Owusu, Paa Willie and others) is proof that any northerner worth his mettle can stand and win elections in this country without the help of accidents or recourse to arousing ethnic sentiments.
It is proof that any worthy northerner has every good chance of attracting the support of a broad range of Ghanaians to become President of this country.
I reject the fallacy that Vice Presidents are automatic heirs to the Presidency at the end of the tenure of the President under whom they served.
Just because Alhaji Aliu Mahama was not successful in his bid to become Presidential candidate of his party after serving as Vice-President does not foreclose the opportunity for all and any northerner from using the same trajectory to become President in the party in which Aliu Mahama served.
Indeed, I venture to argue that much of the turmoil that the NPP may have gone through in the run-up to this year’s election can be read to be precisely because some people within and outside the party may have seen Dr. Bawumia as a credible successor to the Presidency after a Nana Akufo Addo tenure, and therefore, a threat to their ambitions. Rather than being a negative for northerners, I would take this to mean Dr. Bawumia has done justice for the north by elevating himself into the status of a credible contender for the presidency down the lane.
On the counter, I would further argue that if President Mills had left office under normal circumstances, there is no guarantee that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would have automatically transitioned leadership of the party to John Mahama. There is history to guide us; When JJ Rawlings left office with Atta Mills as vice-president, he had to resort to the famous ‘Swedru declaration’ to impose Mills as a successor, and by that the automatic heir to the presidential candidature on the NDC ticket in the year 2000.
We have records to show that the NDC witnessed internal dissention when this happened; an indication that but for the dictatorial imposition of Prof. Mills, there were people in the NDC who would have contested him for the candidature. In subsequent years, didn’t Professor Mills, the baptized successor to JJ Rawlings, have to contest other candidates for the right to lead the party into the 2004 and 2008 elections?
Don’t we remember what happened in Koforidua and Sunyani in the run-up to the 2004 and 2008 elections? Is it because President Mahama believes Ghanaians have short memories that is why he thinks no one in the north in particular would remember these less than peaceful, less than equalizing approaches to succession in the NDC’s history and see through the self-serving misinformation he is perpetrating?
By the way, since President Mahama is reported to have made his statement while campaigning in the Upper West Region, it may have served him well if he knew that if today the Upper West is a region, it is by dint of the love and hard work of southerners, specifically Akans, not by anyone else. It was under the leadership of General I.K Acheampong that all the structures currently constituting the administrative units for the Upper West Region were built.
And they were built because Mr. Ampafo, an Akyem who was the Regional Administrative Officer (RAO) of the then Upper Region labored day and night to push the idea that the Upper Region needed to be split and he secured the resources through his strong influence in the government of the day to initiate the construction of the building. If J.J Rawlings declared the creation of the Upper West Region in 1983 or so, he was simply the midwife, not the mother of the baby. Therefore, he cannot own the baby.
In sum, it would help the President a good deal in the eyes of northerners if his communicators stopped fooling themselves any further in thinking that all northerners are suffering from dementia or amnesia. We know our history; and that history would guide us in the choices we make. You can fool all the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time. A word to the wise is in the north! (Pul, 2016)
Culled and presented by: Cletus D Kuunifaa TMC Group
Writer's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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