“Madam Speaker, never in my life have I seen such a divisive state of the nation’s address like this one”. These were the words of Hon. Osei Kyei Mensa-Bonso, the minority leader of Ghana’s Parliament when Prez Mills gave his 2011 State of theNation’s Address. In the Minority Leader’s view, it was divisive for the Commander in Chief of Ghana’s Arm Forces to say he was putting the nation’s security agencies on red alert or to say Ghana will not die and that Ghana will live to proclaim the Glory of God. Not only that, the Hon. Leader went ahead to describe the event as “a sad day for Ghana”.
Months later, this same man (the Hon Minority Leader) sees nothing divisive about a colleague of his who thinks that “Northerners have turned the North into breeding grounds of violence”. What can be more hypocritical than this? It doesn’t really matter which side of the house this unfortunate statement emanates from. What matters to me is the tendency of political actors to lump people together and hastily pass judgement on such people.
For the purposes of disclosure, I wish to state that I am not from any of the Northern Regions of Ghana but as somebody who spent my formative years in the Afram Plains of Ghana, I know what it means to be socially and economically disadvantaged. Throughout my struggles against economic injustice in Ghana, I have never met a people so pure in heart as the so called Northerners (a description I have always contested but which continues to be used by most social commentators).
Perhaps, it is important for the minority leader, a man who hurriedly organised a press conference and subsequently a boycott of parliament against what he described as an injustice when a social commentator (Nana Darkwah) was brought before a competent court of law, to call his colleague member to order and offer a proper form of apology and not to handle the issue the way he did. As it stands now, it is clear to me that the Hon. Minority leader does not believe that his colleague has done any wrong and that the apology remains a conditional one.
As for Hon. Asiamah and those who think like him, I wish to inform them that the historical antecedents that have brought the Northern part of Ghana into the quagmire of poverty that they today find themselves in were not self-created. They were as a result of years of well-calculated form(s) of economic suppression and only years of well-calculated national plans and programs like Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) can help bring the North on equal footing with the rest of this country. The solution of the North and areas like the Afram Plains does not lie in politically volatile comments like the ones made by Hon. Asiamah, a man whose constituency I know very well and which I know cannot be absolved of felling of trees and charcoal burning. If he challenges me on this, I welcome him to make himself available for a drive to Dedesawireko; a community within his constituency (Fanteakwa).
For me, nothing can be more divisive and sad than a member of Ghana’s Parliament making the kind of statements made by Hon. Asiamah and the earlier he follows this up with an unconditional apology, the better for him and his own image.
By Joshua Tigo
The writer is a Freelance Journalist based in Accra