Politics of Friday, 16 August 2019
Members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Upper East region are giving President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo a heavy dressing-down after soldiers shredded anti-government placards and reportedly seized mobile phones in the Navrongo Central Constituency during his tour of the region this week.
A video clip showing how some angry-looking khaki men, who were detailed to provide the President military escort on his working visit, grabbed placards on display in the constituency on Wednesday and tore them up as they humourlessly questioned the bearers, is spreading rapidly across social media platforms.
The midweek’s sunset had barely climaxed the President’s two-day tour when the NDC supporters, who would convene a news conference later on Thursday on the development, began to take him and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to task, describing the military attacks on the placard-bearing constituents as “Another Dark Day for Democracy”.
The placards reportedly asked Akufo-Addo about the dams he promised Ghanaians before the 2016 polls, the one million dollars he pledged for every constituency before he won power, requested answers on insecurity in the country and demanded the release of Gregory Afoko who is being held since 2015 for an alleged role in the acid-bath murder of the NPP’s Upper East Regional Chairman, Adams Mahama.
“The security men came asking whether I was the leader. I said, ‘Yes, please.’ He said, ‘Let me see what’ I was holding. I gave the placard out, thinking that these people would look at it and get my placard back to me. Before me, they tore several of them. I asked, ‘What is the crime? Are we demonstrating?’ They didn’t speak. They said, ‘Let’s go.’ They left to the grounds. We said, ‘Fine. We still have some. Bring them and let’s display to the President.’ By then, the President was coming from Tono. When we were displaying it, they came back from the grounds and started attacking us and tried to tell us that we should leave the scene. We are here. We are citizens.
“The President said we should be citizens, not spectators. So, we are here to welcome the President. So, there is no point telling us to leave. We aren’t demonstrating. We are law-abiding citizens in Navrongo and we respect the law so much that we would not do anything against the law. If for any reason we wanted to demonstrate, we know the procedures to use. We are protesting. The security men would not listen to us. That sparked the whole issue,” recounted Prosper Adongo, the NDC’s Navrongo Central Constituency Youth Organiser, at a news conference held Thursday (today) at Zuarungu by the NDC’s Upper East Regional Youth Wing.
We would take the Law into our Hands if Security Agencies fail us— NDC
The conference also saw the NDC supporters caution the security agencies in the country against being “used by politicians” for selfish motive at the expense of the public interest.
“This attack by the President’s security detail didn’t really come as a surprise to us. On his visit to Bawku, the previous day (13/08/2019), similar crowds greeted him with their grievances and, upon noting that the media was keen on the grievances raised, this intimidation (at Navrongo) had to be done to prevent further embarrassment. Apparently, this has turned to cause him more harm than good.
“Before I conclude, permit me to give a word of caution to our security agencies. Never should they allow themselves to be used by politicians as we are seeing under this Nana Addo government. In entrusting our security into their care, they should be reminded of the consequences of being partisan in providing us secured lives. We would be left with the option of taking the law into our own hands if the security agencies mandated by our constitution fail to protect us fairly,” said the NDC’s Upper East Regional Youth Organiser, Abraham Azumah Lambon, in a statement he read on behalf of the NDC.
The statement added: “This reminds us of the similar attacks at Ayawaso West Wuogon where supposed National Security operatives, front-lined by the likes of Bryan Acheampong, DSP Azugu, Bright Ernest Akomea (aka Double) and his cohorts, unleashed ‘All Die Be Die’ venom on innocent Ghanaians. This undoubtedly is one of the most unfortunate and regrettable attacks on our democracy.”
Free SHS Policy: Akufo-Addo was Misled— NDC
The issue of the Free SHS Policy came up strongly when President Akufo-Addo met with staff and students of the Bolgatanga Senior High School on the first day of his tour. The President told them the NDC would abolish the policy if Ghanaians allowed them to recapture power in 2020.
Responding to Akufo-Addo’s comments, Lambon lambasts: “A policy enshrined in Article 25 of our constitution to be cancelled? That which was made progressively free by the erstwhile NDC administration? Our President has been misled just as in the renegotiated Ameri deal by Boakye Agyarko. The next NDC administration will come to better this constitutional mandate of the free SHS and make it sustainable for all Ghanaian citizens.”
The NDC supporters also listed some developmental projects said to have been initiated by former President, John Dramani Mahama, and which they said had been making Akufo-Addo feel intimidated anytime he toured the Upper East region. The projects, according to them, include: “the Tammne Irrigation Dam, the over 150 GSOP Dams across the region, the eleven E-Blocks, the asphalting of Bolga township roads, Navrongo and Bawku township roads, the award of Bolga-Bawku-Pulmakom Road, the Navrongo-Sandema-Fumbisi Road, the regional hospital project that has now been abandoned, rural electrification and many other projects.”