Veep’s convoy ambushed

Veep John MahamaThe official convoy of the Vice President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, was at the weekend virtually ambushed by factions of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Tamale and Bolgatanga when the party tried to live up to its self-inflicted ‘lean convoy’ campaign promise.

Disaster was only averted with the propitious intervention of the security agencies in the regional capital when two youth gangs locked horns for battle in what could have become a bloody encounter.

A long-standing mistrust between the Northern Regional Chairman of the party, Alhaji Sumani Zakari and one-time Minister of Food and Agriculture, Ibrahim Adam, led to the near ‘war’ situation.

Speaking on radio yesterday, Ibrahim Adam stated that his daughter’s sister-in-law who was in Tamale for the first time received a hefty slap during the raid on his house by the youth gang adding that she bled from the nose.

“I was on the way to Bolga with the Vice President when I got a call from my daughter that they had been attacked by some stick-wielding young men.

Then one lady took the phone from her and mentioned the names of some of those she could recognize and then it dawned on me (that) it was the Regional Chairman of the NDC again that orchestrated the act,” he told the media.

He has vowed to make a formal complaint to the party’s leadership including the President, in the hope that something would be done about the chairman whom he said has gained notoriety for assaulting political opponents in the metropolis.

“This is not the first time he has done this; every former minister living in Tamale has either been threatened or assaulted by this man personally or through his agents,” he said, adding that the man is noted for resorting to violence to have his way.

Alhaji Sumani Zakari has declined to speak to the media.

It all started when the NDC regional chairman, Alhaji Sumani Zakari, noted for his brusque reactions to situations, was asked to join another vehicle so that the number of vehicles in the Vice President’s convoy from the Tamale Airport, a distance of about 11 miles to the city centre, could be shortened.

Minders of the President and Vice President are wary about the length of their convoys in a bid to avoid the bad press the phenomenon has attracted in a few months that the government has been in office.

While the convoy war was raging, the President, John Evans Atta Mills, rode in five Ford Expedition cars to the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi for the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II grand durbar to mark his 10th anniversary on the throne, aside those of his entourage that were parked outside the stadium.

The Northern regional chairman took offense at what he considered a humiliation, got the Tamale township fuming and pointed at Ibrahim Adam as the source of his eviction from the convoy.
Not even the intervention of Vice President John Dramani Mahama could assuage the peeved Alhaji Sumani Zakari.

After the Vice President’s assignment of launching an ambitious Northern Regional Rural Development Programme, a youth gang sympathetic to the chairman readied themselves for an assault mission.

They were alleged to have been primed for the mission by the regional chairman as they descended on their rivals who support the one-time Minister of Food and Agriculture and go by the name of Gbahredira, which in Dagbani means ‘pick and eat’.

They injured three persons belonging to the Gbahredira group, destroyed their furniture and damaged a number of vehicles and headed for the residence of Ibrahim Adam at the residential area of Gumani where they were told that the man was not in the house.

They regretted not finding him at home, vowing that they would have dealt with him had he been around.

Before they left the place however, they beat up the watchman in the residence of Mr. Adam.

Ibrahim Adam was at the time in the convoy of the Vice President heading for Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region but upon hearing what had befallen his boys, he curtailed the trip and headed for Tamale.

Upon arrival, he led the victims of the assault to the Tamale Police Station where he lodged a formal complaint and submitted the names of some suspects.

He told the media afterwards that this was the umpteenth time that Alhaji Sumani Zakari has subjected him to this kind of ordeal and asked that this time round, the law must be allowed to take its course.

The two persons had once vied for the chairmanship of the party in the region but in circumstances which were far from normal, the one-time Agriculture Minister lost out to his rival.

The relationship between the two persons has frozen since then, worsening by the day until what now looks like a point of no return.

DAILY GUIDE, it would be recalled, reported how soon after January 7, 2009, Alhaji Sumani Zakari ordered the regional head of the Department of Roads and Highways to stop awarding contracts and that since no substantive minister had been appointed for the region, he was holding the position in an acting capacity.

He told the regional head that his boys (NDC contractors) had been denied contracts for eight years and were hungry and that he was now in charge.

The officer told him that he did not take instructions from a political party chairman and such orders should come from his Chief Director in Accra.

On another occasion while about to travel from Tamale to Accra, he demanded to use VIP facilities at the airport, and when the officials failed to acquiesce to his request, he threatened to have all of them transferred out of the region.

Recently during the Jirapa constituency by-election in the Upper West Region, he allegedly commandeered the Tamale MCE vehicle, got the Zoomlion regional manager to fuel it and handed it to the dreaded Azorka boys.

By A.R. Gomda