Enough to say that President John Mahama has had his hands sullied after stooping so low to play ethnocentrism card while campaigning in the north. Not only that but also Mr. Mahama descended into the gutters, thereby charting the uncharted path.
His target was the vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia who’s been a thorn in the flesh of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).
And of course he’d something unpalatable saved at Mr. ‘Bagbin’s Bag’ for the astute economist—the president hunched too low as father of the nation and punched Dr. Bawumia below the belt.
No doubt his frantic moves to seek re-election had possibly caused him to make the comment below:
“Sometimes I feel sad when I see some of our northern brothers running and also doing this .They will use you and dump you. Let anything happen today and let our brother Bawumia say he is standing for president in NPP. They will never give it to him I can assure you,” Mr. Mahama said.
According to the president the NPP will not allow Dr. Bawumia to be their flagbearer because the party is largely not in support of northerners taking up such positions.
The president’s misguided statement has drawn criticisms from the public and institutions far and near Notable among them is the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). The Foundation has asked President Mahama to apologise for making the comment deemed ethnocentric against the running mate of the opposition NPP Dr. Bawumia.
In a statement the MFWA condemned the comment and described it as ‘divisive’ and ‘unfortunate’. “The MFWA considers the comments of president Mahama as highly divisive and unfortunate and condemns it. President Mahama is expected to act in ways that will unite rather than divide the people of this country,” the statement said.
The foundation further urged political figures to avoid the use of hate speech, ethnocentric and divisive comments in the political campaigns.”
Indeed, this writer thinks the comment was calculated to appeal to those fearful of charging ethnocentrism and gender mores. Unfortunately for him (Mr. Mahama) what happened at Lawra in the Upper West Region didn’t stay there.
Thankfully, it got onboard an Accra-bound lorry. And the wild comment had since gone wild and wide
This is the second time the NPP running mate had been attacked by northerners who call him ‘brother’ yet they’d spoken ill or badmouthed him many times. In early October this year, at Nandom also in the Upper West Region the Majority Leader of Parliament Mr. Alban Bagbin condescendingly described him (Dr. Bawumia) as driver’s mate who lacked the developmental acumen and capacity to bring development to the north.
What is Ethnocentrism?
It is the tendency to believe that one’s ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one’s own.
Or ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture…Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture especially with concern for language , behaviour, customs and religion.’
Ghana is not that divided as some politicians are trying hard to shape it that way. Since independence its peoples have lived in oneness, in harmony and in peace. Together we’ve stubbornly demonstrated our commitment to safeguard our values, customs, traditions, etc. our forebears handed to us as far back as in the 13th century.
So, where from this dirty card?
The NPP isn’t an Akan party. Its members are from different backgrounds, different ethnicity, different religion and are of different faith. Unfortunately, politics being politics opponents often demonise parties that seem to do better than them. They often use their spin doctors to do the dirty job—spreading hate messages and causing fear and panic.
In this regard I believe we as a people must vehemently resist any party, individual or group of persons whose agenda is to stoke the ethnocentric fire to destabilise this peaceful nation of ours. It must neither have any place here today nor any place there tomorrow.
As matter of fact two of the eight elected presidents of the republic are northerners. Dr. Hilla Limann whose original last name was Babini, born at Gwolu in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region was the only president of the third republic of Ghana. And I’m humbled to state that I interviewed him on March 5, 1997 a day before Ghana’s 40th independence anniversary.
How could he have been elected if the country is/was indeed drawn on tribal or ethnic lines? He stood for elections following the disqualification of Alhaji Imoru Egala by then Supreme Military Council and won 62% of the popular vote in the second round of voting—a country predominantly Akan. And I have always maintained that Ghana is bigger than Akan and any ethnic group.
The remaining six were elected from the Western, Eastern, the Brong Ahafo, Volta, Ashanti and the Central Regions. The sitting president John Mahama happens to be the fourth president of the Fourth Republic (which began in 1992) is from the Northern Region.
So out of the many we’re one. We are a united country, albeit with different ethnic groupings but our strength lies in the diversity. It’s a society known for its hospitability and close-knit.
Meanwhile the NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo Addo has condemned the comments by the Mr. Mahama, whereas Dr. Bawumia has replied president Mahama, saying he (Mr. Mahama) is not the kind of President Northerners are looking for.
The NNP vice presidential candidate also said northerners had lost their dignity due to incompetence of Mahama-led administration.
Dr. Bawumia’s comment also drew reaction from the spokesperson for the NDC campaign Joyce Bawa Mogtari. Madam Mogtari said the party (NDC) would not react to Dr. Bawumia’s comment that northerners must vote out the NDC to regain their lost dignity.
But she quickly described Dr. Bawumia’s comment as ‘baseless’ and ‘needless’.
According to her Dr. Bawumia is desecrating the same brand his father supported. “I think I will totally disregard what Dr. Bawumia said. Indeed his late father Alhaji Bawumia was the chairman of the council of elders of the party he wants to desecrate. His father was a stalwart of the party he wants to desecrate for power,” she said.
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