By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, February 13, 2016
Folks, those who know the NDC's General Secretary (Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, popularly known as "General Mosquito") will not begrudge him for cracking jokes of all kinds to enliven the political discourse on Ghana's challenges.
In fact, he is one person who has a huge capacity for taking on political opponents and cutting them to size, even if he has himself been caught up in narrow circumstances and floored. Probably, his nom de guerre ("General Mosquito") can be traced to that point.
I remember very well how he emerged bruised from a failed street demonstration by an NDC group that was protesting against certain actions by the Kufuor administration in the early 2000's. The news report qualified him as the "skeletal Asiedu Nketiah"; but the fact is that he stings with his mouth.
Here he is again, cracking an expensive joke that has turned my crank:
"If the people of Agogo are clamouring for Fulanis to be sacked from Ghana, then they might as well be suggesting the sacking of Mrs Samira Bawumia, General Secretary of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia has said.
He told Chief Jerry Forson on Accra100.5fm’s breakfast show Ghana Yenson on Wednesday April 13 that the wife of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, three-time running mate to the flagbearer of Ghana’s biggest opposition party, is also of Fulani extraction, and, thus, those calling for Fulanis and their cattle to be booted out of the country may be doing Mrs Bawumia a disservice" (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Sacking-Fulanis-would-mean-sacking-Bawumia-s-wife-Mosquito-430543).
You may choose to laugh or cringe at this expensive joke. I will see it as it is and laugh it off as a kind of comic relief even if it indicates a lot for me to unpack, which I am about to do.
General Mosquito has taken a huge swipe at Dr. Bawumia's wife for a reason best known to him. She may not be the only identifiable Fulani to be put on the spot. So, why settle on her as such? Probably, General Mosquito has chosen her for a special vengeance for her audacity in tongue-lashing President Mahama. She recently made public utterances that I didn't like because she wasn't the kind of character to take on President Mahama as she did.
But for being married to a running mate, what locus would she have to behave the way she did? In reality, she is nobody. But she also joined the NPP's bandwagon to disrespect President Mahama. Stepping on toes this way exposed her underbelly, which General Mosquito is attacking now. What follows next?
Beyond the personality of Mrs Samira Bawumia is the real issue, though. General Mosquito may be pardoned for weaving this joke around her; but he won't be set free if the reality of the Fulani menace is considered.
First, no one is asking the government to bundle all Fulanis in Ghana for deportation. Where will they be deported to, anyway?
Again, no one is pinpointing Fulanis as the perpetrators of heinous crimes in Ghana for which they must be rounded up and "dismissed" (I hope you know what I mean here).
The focus is on the indiscriminate roving of the Fulanis all over the country and the massive destruction of property by their cattle, which poses a huge threat to limb and property. What is happening in Agogo is on people's lips because it is the reality to be tackled, not swept away through such expensive jokes.
There are many ways to tackle the problem, not because the Fulanis are targets to be persecuted but because their unrestrained nomadic activities are dangerous to many communities in the country. Indeed, they have been reported to have shot dead some of those protesting against or resisting their activities. The situation is dire.
The government's approach to the Fulani menace is disturbing. Nothing concrete has come from it to assuage doubts, fears, and whatever else is making it difficult for the citizens to see the Fulani nomads as "friends" to live with.
The use of raw force against the Fulani herdsmen hasn't solved any problem. Neither have the local authorities (especially the local security apparatus and traditional rulers/politicians) been able to stem the tide. The situation has assumed alarming dimensions and is likely to worsen as long as it drags on.
The onus is on the government to stamp its authority on the crisis and resolve it. In one of my opinion pieces, I strongly recommended that drastic action be taken to limit the movement of these Fulani herdsmen so they can be prevented from leading their animals to destroy the farms of hardworking Ghanaians. That measure should curtail the disaster, which is likely to deepen the bad-blood relationship between the Fulanis and residents in areas that they are freely operating in.
Is it not possible, in the long run, to ensure that kraals are built to contain these Fulanis and their cattle? Then, those who can grow hay and sell to support cattle breeding should be encouraged to do so. They will earn some income while helping curb the rampaging activities of the Fulanis and their cattle.
There may be many other ways to handle the crisis. As tension builds up all over the place, if care is not taken, this Fulani menace will degenerate into a national crisis with unmentionable consequences.
I urge President Mahama and his team to consider this Fulani menace as much as they would do any iota of terrorist dimension. Who knows who will take advantage of this menace to foment trouble in the country?
It is not as if we don't know that Fulanis have been in Ghana since time-out-of-mind and that some of them have well integrated into the Ghanaian society and produced children who qualify as Ghanaians. In that sense, then, some Ghanaians are Fulanis, even if we cringe to accept that fact. They are as Ghanaian as any natural-born Ghanaian is. So, where will they go if forced out?
The Fulanis in Ghana are the products of our proverbial Ghanaian hospitality. Those whose nomadic activities are endangering limb and property may be identifiable as "outsiders" and isolated for special attention; but the long and short of it all is that solving the crisis should be done through concerted efforts. That is where I find the government wanting. Something drastic has to be done and done immediately to control the situation.
For now, we may want to see General Mosquito's joke as a piece of comic relief; but its ramifications speak volumes.