Staunch Nkrumaist and maverick politician, Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, has described the erstwhile National Liberation Movement (NLM), as the bedrock of tribal politics in Ghana.
The NLM, was formed three years before the Gold Coast gained independence from its colonial masters, Britain. It had slogan, “Mati mehu” meaning, “I have broken away” or “I have separated from you”.
It was spearheaded by Bafuor Osei Akoto, father of Afriyie Osei Akoto, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso in the Ashanti Region. He was also one of the Chief Linguist in the Manhyia Palace, where the Asantehene resides.
Bafuor Osei Akoto, had liaised with some disgruntled Ashanti Farmers Union members, who were at the time members of the governing Convention People’s Party (CPP).
They included, Osei Asibbey Mensah, Opanin Tawiah Kusi Ampofo and six others.
The Movement’s aim, according to Prof. Akosa, was to champion federalism, as well as maintain the cultural heritage of the Asante Nation.
Its opposition to the Nkrumah Government was sparked by the CPP’s failure to fulfil a campaign promise to increase the price of cocoa – the backbone of the economy – upon assumption of Office.
The NLM, according to Prof Akosa, who delivered the 47th Joseph Boakye Danquah memorial lecture on Monday, February 24, 2014, under the aegis of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, had the support of some elite members of the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C) – the party from which Ghana’s first Prime Minister and later first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah seceded to form the C.P.P.
According to Prof Akosa, besides supporting the NLM and its politico-tribal activities, elites of the U.G.C.C also supported the activities of other tribal political groups, such as Ga Shikpimor Kpee and Transvolta Togoland.
“Of all these groups, the NLM was the most tribal and vicious”, he argued, adding that the Movement was the “bedrock of tribal politics” in Ghana.
The NLM, at the time, led by Prof Kofi Abrefa Busia, later joined forces with other politico-tribal groups, including the Northern People’s Party (NPP) led by Chief S.D. Dombo, the Togoland Congress, the Muslim Association Party, the Aborigines Right Protection Society, the Ghana Congress Party and the Anlo Youth Organisation to form the main opposition, United Party (U.P.) with the sole aim of opposing the Nkrumah Government.
The U.P. was the forebear of the current main opposition, New Patriotic Party (N.P.P).
Victor Owusu, whose protégé was ex-President, John Agyekum Kufuor in 1979, led Popular Front Party (PFP) into an election, came from the Ashanti Region.
William Ofori-Atta, in that same year, led a breakaway group which formed another party called United National Convention (UNC). He was from the Eastern Region.
In the 1992, NPP was also led by Prof. Albert Adu-Boahene from the Ashanti Region. He contested Jerry John Rawlings and was defeated.
John Kufuor succeeded him in 1996, and lost to same, Mr. Rawlings, an Ewe from the Volta Region. Mr. Kufuor, later won in year 2000, against John Evans Atta Mills. Mr. Kufour comes from Nkawie in the Ashanti Region.
In 2008, Nana Akufo-Addo from the Eastern Region, also an Akan, succeeded Mr. Kufuor as flagbearer but lost to the Prof. Mills from the Central Region.
John Mahama, A Gonjor from Bole in the Northern Region was later to beat Nana Akufo-Addo in 2012, following the sudden demise of Prof. Mills.
Interestingly, ex-President Kufuor, wanted his Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen, who is half Ashanti and Fante to replace him.