NPP must "reject" Osafo Marfo’s ‘tribal’ comments – Arthur K

General News of Thursday, 19 February 2015


Arthur Kobina Kennedy Utag

The main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) must distance itself from alleged ethnocentric comments made by former Finance Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo, if indeed, he made the tribalistic remarks attributed to him, former Flagbearer-aspirant of the party, Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy has said.

A secret audio tape circulating on both social and traditional media captures a male voice resembling that of Mr Marfo bemoaning that even though about 90 percent of Ghana’s natural resources are concentrated in mainly Akan-speaking regions of the country, it is people who come from regions without resources that are governing the country.

The tape was apparently captured at a meeting between the former Finance Minister and the NPP’s Council of Elders in the Eastern region.

The voice, which mostly spoke in the local Twi language, but punctuated the delivery with some English, is heard bemoaning why Akan-speaking people, whose regions are rich with natural resources, are not the ones at the helm of managing those resources.

“…You have all the resources, but you have no say in the management of your resources, and that is what is happening. Your development depends on the one who has no resources,” the voice said.

“You can’t say this openly,” he cautioned the Council members, but added that they are at liberty to talk about it among Asantes.

“We should protect ourselves, we should protect our income. No one who is the source of income, the source of revenue, the source of resources allows another person without those resources the chance [to rule over them].

“It’s never done anywhere in the world. In the world over, it is the group with the most resources that rules and not the other way around,” the voice said.

In the estimation of the voice, “86.5 percent of resources in Ghana come from five regions: Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern, Western and Central. This is where 86 percent of the resources of Ghana come from… And the oil was also discovered in the West. It will change the formula to about 90 percent. We cannot ignore these five regions. We should not,” the voice added.

Mr Osafo Marfo has told the media he remembers speaking at a forum not too long ago but doubts if the alleged content of the tape is representative of all that he said there.

Commenting on the issue, Dr Kennedy said in a statement that: “One again, there are secret tapes of another politician, Hon. Osafo Marfo, making the rounds. Once again, these remarks, if accurate, were recorded at a party meeting not open to the public. If these remarks are true, they must be rejected by the party and an unqualified apology made by Mr. Marfo to those rightly offended.”

“He is a good man and a patriot, and these remarks would be out of character. And he would not be the first of our major politicians to make ethnically insensitive remarks. Presidents Rawlings, Mills and Mahama have all done so publicly. This is not the first time secret tapes have surfaced. It happened to Nana Akufo-Addo in 2012 in connection with the infamous “all-die-be-die” tape and to me in connection with an address to NPP youth. On the other side, it has happened to Kofi Adams and others. In 2012, US Republican Presidential candidate M. Romney suffered greatly when his “47% will not vote for us” remarks were leaked.

“Before then, Prez Obama had gotten into some trouble with remarks about whites and guns. We should all be concerned about unauthorised recordings– they violate the rights of people who speak confidentially and then find their remarks in the public domain,” Dr Kennedy said.

He said: “There should be an honest discussion about the ethics and legality of the dissemination of these tapes. Should we require that the media know who made the recording and whether the recording was authentic? Next, we need to learn that even in party meetings, there are very different viewpoints and interests. Finally, public figures must learn the painful lessons of these incidents. We need, when addressing issues of public interest, to be consistent. We must say what we mean and mean what we say in public and in private.”