Who wants to kill Haruna?

Fri, 18 May 2007 Source: Daily Dispatch

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I have been a secret admirer of the NDC’s MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, for a very long time. He first came to my attention when he was president of the National Students Union. At the time, the NDC was in power and I remember there was serious student agitation against the introduction of so-called ‘academic facility user fees.’ Students were up in arms and government officials were all over the place defending the moves towards ‘cost-sharing’ and Haruna was also busy condemning ‘cost shifting’. I must say that I admired Haruna’s intelligence, coherence and calm disposition. He was fighting for a cause but he wasn’t needlessly belligerent (as most students are wont to be).

So firm was he in his opposition to the cost-sharing policy that I thought that he was a member of my elephant party. I was therefore taken aback when I heard that he was indeed under the umbrella and that he even had political ambitions. This was in the year 2000 but I guess at the time he was busy concentrating on his education and he couldn’t run for political office. But four years later, in the last general elections, he ran for one of the Tamale parliamentary seats and won – hands down. He ran against an incumbent who was his teacher in secondary school, a government minister, wealthy and backed by the ruling party… and he won very convincingly.

Recently, Haruna was in the news for allegedly using plagiarised material in his Master’s degree thesis. I was disappointed by this development but I don’t know what became of that case. However, the fact that he’s still able to hold his chin up is testimony to the fact that this young man has built up a store of credibility for himself and it would take more than a ‘copiatus’ scandal to undo him.

And that’s a good thing for any politician. Many of his senior politicians admire him and secretly wish that they had as much credibility as he does and enjoy his popularity (both at the constituency and national levels). Simply put, Haruna is the future – unless he messes up big time. I think the future of our dear nation lies in the hands of young, bright people like Haruna. People like that need to be encouraged and supported.

Unfortunately, Haruna is not receiving all the encouragement and support he needs and I was shocked (but not the least surprised) when I read in the newspapers a few days ago that there was a plan to assassinate him. According to the news reports, some of his colleagues in the NDC think he is too independent-minded and that he’s fond of stepping out of the party line. The newspaper publications didn’t have much detail and have raised questions about the motives of the editors who published the stories.

Haruna himself has said that the reports are part of a continuing scheme to portray his party as a violent party and he has challenged the editors to boldly name the people involved in the alleged plot to assassinate him. It is not my place to say what journalists should do and should not do. But I think that as responsible citizens who have information about some people’s intent to carry out a violent crime, it is the editors’ civic responsibility to report the case to the police in order for it to be investigated. If they don’t and Haruna falls victim to the assassin’s bullet, they would have his blood on their hands as well. It’s as simple as that.

I have a lot of respect for the journalists who reported the alleged murder plot and I want to believe that they did not sit in their rooms to concoct the story. I therefore, want to take the position that even if there is no plot to kill Haruna, there might be some people within the NDC who are not happy with the fact that he is independent-minded, young and upwardly mobile. These are people who might be thinking that Haruna is a liability and will therefore like to see him out of the party (dead or alive!). In fact, in the elephant party, we also have fickle-minded bigots who think that those who do not tow the party line are traitors who deserve to be kicked out. Take the late Hawa Yakubu (may she rest in peace) as an example. She was a brave woman who never hesitated to speak her mind, whether it coincided with the party position or not. I know she had a lot of enemies in the party whose only beef against her was that she wasn’t a bootlicking sycophant who would tow the party line even if it went against her personal values and beliefs.

Our hatred (and disdain) for people (like Hawa and Haruna) who are independent-minded poses a grave threat to our democracy. For Sikaman to develop as a democratic nation, we need people who do not delight in being sycophantic crowd followers. We need people who can think and speak for themselves. People with dissenting views should be allowed to speak their minds; they should not be threatened with death.

Most of our MPs today are people who are more concerned about pleasing their party hierarchy than truly representing the people. So when the party says “let’s pass the bill” or “let’s oppose the bill” that’s exactly what they will do. I am tired of seeing all NDC MPs always voting in opposition and all NPP MPs always voting for every bill government introduces.

People like Haruna have shown that given the opportunity, they wouldn’t mind voting against their party. That’s what democracy is all about – divergent views that enable us all to look at problems from different perspectives in order to come up with sensible solutions that as many of us as possible can live with. So when I hear reports about plots to kill people because they are independent-minded, I get worried, to say the least. Therefore, I want to plead with those people (if there are any) who want to see Haruna ‘down’ to reconsider their evil plot.

The NDC, especially, should learn to work with people like Haruna. They chased a whole lot of them out of the party recently and I believe it is in the party’s interest to keep him. He is an asset and I wish that he was an elephant lover.

Excellently yours,

J. A. Fukuor

Columnist: Daily Dispatch