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Bongo-Born Manasseh Awuni’s War With The Northern Elite   
 
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16-Jul-2016  
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I was sitting my somewhere and minding my own thoughts when I heard the traditionalist from Shai- Osudoku mention these names on Radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji program some two Saturdays ago:  Jibril Kanazoe, Chief Bawumia, Mark Woyongo, Marcel Dormayele, Daniel Batidaam, and Dramani Mahama. He asked a simple and innocuous question, “What is motivating Manasseh Awuni from Bongo to go after his fellow Northerners?”   

I quickly noted that all the names run through the saga of a Ford Expedition gift  from a Contractor, Jibril Kanazoe of Burkina Faso, to President John Mahama which Manasseh believes is a bribe which influenced the President to award juicy contracts to Jibril’s company.

“Wait a minute, “I exclaimed.  I quickly checked the list of other Northerners Manasseh has had a beef with:  Abuga Pele, Gilbert Iddi, Roland Agambire, Alhassan Andani and Haruna Iddrisu. After carefully considering the matter, I wish to find out from Manasseh Awuni of Bongo why he has declared war on his fellow Northerners. Could it be that he is miffed and blinded by the difficult upbringing he had as the second born of a Kete- Krachi night watchman and may be wondering how his fellow northerners could have had a break through down South?

Northern Ghana administratively comprises the three regions of Ghana which lie in the Savanna belt of West Africa and include; Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions. Geographically, it is boarded to the north by Burkina Faso, to the South by Brong-Ahafo and Northern Volta, to the East is Togo and to the West is Ivory Coast.

Northern Ghana's fair share of natural resources include shea nut trees, “dawadawa”, Iron ore, salt, abundant land among others. It is blessed with honest, intelligent, hardworking and determined people who however have limited opportunities as compared to their counterparts in the South. Northern Ghana is poor by every indicator of human development. The problems confronting the people of the north are multi-faceted. Therefore all hands must be on deck to develop the Northern parts of Ghana.

I have firmly believed that the northern educated elite and rich in society have a bigger stake in the mobilization of all resources to develop the North. This is because our northern brothers have come very far as the country has had two presidents (Hilla Limann and Dramani Mahama) and two Vice Presidents ( Aliu Mahama  and Dramani Mahama) coming from the North. Yet, the road to the top had not all been rosy.

So, why would any person, let alone a fellow northerner ‘try to shoot down” or “kill’ the ambitions of fellow Northernors who want to rise above the morass of degradation, poverty and backwardness associated with their northern environment? There are more questions than answers.

I wish to rely on what Alhaji Rahim Gbadamosi, a retired Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), wrote in his yet-to-be published reminiscences on education entitled: EVENTS IN MY LIFE. He notes that it was not until 1927 that the British colonial government established the Tamale Government Middle Boys Boarding School for the whole of that vast Protectorate of the Northern Territories. It was not until 1948 that the Tamale Government Middle Girls Boarding School was set up also for the whole of the North.

It is unbelievable but Alhaji Gbadamosi tells us that, at one time, there were only seven primary schools located at Wa, Lawra, Chiana, Zuarogo, Gambaga, Yendi and Salaga.

When the Tamale Government Middle Boys Boarding School was turned into a secondary school in l951, Alhaji Gbadamosi was one of the lucky few to be admitted to Form 1.

Northern girls were to wait till the 1958/59 Academic Year before they could attend Tamale Secondary School.

It is instructive to note that the colonial government sent a few selected boys to Achimota School. The reality, however, was  that the colonial government kept the North as a vast pool, from which to draw cheap, unskilled, and largely illiterate labour for work in other parts of the country.

It has to be acknowledged with great admiration and wonder that considering the late start in the educational race, the “North” has made such wonderful strides that highly trained academics and other professionals have sprung from what are now the Northern Region, Upper East Region and Upper West Region

In spite of the monumental achievement in various areas of human endeavour by “Northerners”, various political parties have always felt that a lot more needs  to be done, since there is still a great deal of poverty there.

I am wondering who are better to handle the programs for northern development, but “Northerners” themselves. So I am asking why are they always in the news for the wrong reasons courtesy Azure Awuni of Bongo?

 

Manasseh Azuri Awuni is an award winning broadcast journalist who was born in Bongo in the Upper East Region of Ghana in 1985 but grew up in Kete-Krachi, where his father worked as a night watchman. Manasseh and I have one thing in common, a concern for the oppressed and downtrodden. I have a weakness for underdogs, and one part of me will always stay with them. Similarly Manasseh has self- confessed that he is also on the side of the oppressed through his self-confession that he is a firm believer in Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa’s saying that, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If the elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Manasseh has had occasion to state that the “North” has been let down by the “Northern” elite, educated, wealthy, and powerful. He has company in the former Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Professor Kwame Karikari who has said “northerners in the Mahama administration appear to be failing the people of the north.” He observed that “this is the first time in a long time where we have crop of people from the north who are perhaps the most influential in decision making in government” and advised them to make good use of their positions for the development of the three northern regions in Ghana.

I wish to recap and remind Manasseh Azure Awuni  of some of the  cases in which he tried to set fire to his fellow northerners:

Azure Awuni versus Roland Agambire

On February 10, 2015 Manasseh’s Facebook post read, “I am deeply hurt and worried. If companies belonging to Roland Agambire of RLG… fame are going to run GYEEDA (now YEA), then another scandal will soon emerge. These two groups of companies have been named in all major scandals in recent times: GYEEDA, SUBAH and SADA.

"The most disturbing issue is that [he is] untouchable. [He has] not been prosecuted and [he has] not repaid the monies that were wrongly paid to [him] despite the recommendation of the committee. RLG paid only one quarter's installation. [He] move[s] from grace to grace on government contracts and the tax payer's money is not accounted for. I am very hurt and disturbed.”

On March 3, 2015, Manasseh wrote again, “Mahama may not be a thief. But if he supervises stealing, how should we call him?. An elder who sits at home and allows children to eat python will not be left out when a roll call of python eaters is conducted, “he noted.

"Roland Agambire … for instance, [has] been made more powerful than any minister of state. So if [his] companies are involved in corruption, which institutions, systems or persons are to lead the crusade against this corruption?

Roalnd Agambire took umbrage and sued Manasseh Awuni for GHc 1million.  Agambire blew the lead of the motivations for Manasseh’s posts when he contended in his statement of claim that the publications were “offensive and actuated by malice, and that in their natural and ordinary meaning, the words contained therein meant and were understood to mean that [he] is a thief who is stealing the money of the people of Ghana and acting without regard for rule of law because he is untouchable.”

So, to his fellow Northernor, Manasseh is motivated by malice. What malice? Is Manasseh envious of the success of his fellow northern brother? Manasseh has always claimed that he grew up in Kete-Krachi, where his father worked as a night watchman and as the second of eleven children of his parents.  He grew up under difficult conditions and had to “rise above the odds of deprivation, poverty and hopelessness.”  Is it likely that Manaseh’s difficult up bringing in a harsh environment makes him wonder how his fellow northern made it in Accra? I wonder.

Azure Awuni versus Alhassan Andani

The revelations are contained in an audit report and independent investigations conducted by Joy News' Manasseh Azure Awuni did a report that accused a past Board chairman of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Alhassan Andani of serious conflict of interest situation.

Acccording to Manasseh, Mr. Andani placed himself in a conflict of interest situation when as the Managing Director of Stanbic he allowed 74.5 million cedis of SADA money to put into a call account at the Stambic bank where he was the Managing Director.

Beyond that he claimed Mr Alhassan Andani did not do himself any favour when he chaired the Roland Agambire’s RLG Foundation but allowed a chunk of SADA's investment to go into the activities of the AGAMs Group of companies of which RLG is the flagship company.

This position by Manaseh was refuted by the deputy Interior Minister James Agalga who cautioned against jumping into hasty conclusions that could only tarnish the reputation of Alhassan Andani.

According to James Agalga, the former SADA Board Chair could not be accused of conflict of interest, especially in respect of the 75million cedis in the call account of Stanbic. He said Alhassan Andani was only an employee of Stanbic Bank and cannot be held accountable for corporate transactions the bank enters

into with its clients.

Azure Awuni versus Haruna Iddrisu

Manasseh Azure has revealed that the Employment Minister, Haruna Iddrisu, made “financial demands “on an employment agency under the ministry to finance his foreign travels.”  He claimed that Haruna Iddrisu had requested from the Youth Employment Agency GH129, 089 on 17th March 2015 and GH900, 7545.68 on 12 May 2015 for travels to ILO meetings in Geneva, Switzerland. He claimed that for four weeks, he had been pursuing the Minister for an interview and that Haruna Iddrisu, whose ministry now presides over the YEA postponed the interview a number of times before finally agreeing to speak to Manasseh on January 5, 2016.

After Haruna Iddrisu had confronted Manasseh on Joy FM’s supermorning show, it turned out that Manasseh’s allegations were way off the mark. A clearly livid Haruna Iddrisu wondered why his fellow northern brother was hell-bent of causing public disaffection for him. He warned Manasseh with a Dagbani proverb which literally translates, “The woman who has given birth to twins does not fear a big male sex organ.” Iddrisu’s message to Manasseh Awuni was simple, “I am not afraid of your diabolical machinations.”

Azure Awuni vrs Dramani Mahama

Manasseh Azure Awuni, the author of the “FORD EXPEDITION GIFT STORY’ carefully crafted questions to illicit responses that will influence conclusions to be drawn. Manasseh’s report sought to indicate that Mr. Djibril Kananzoe, a Burkinabe contractor used undue influence to get contracts. The promo before tried to raise an alarm that KANAZOE FRERES Company is about to be awarded another project, valued at 82 million cedis after two earlier ones.

What exposed the agenda, which is a sharp departure from fairness was President John Mahama’s voice in the promo which commended KANAZOE FRERES Company for an excellent job on the 46-kilometre Dodo Pepeso-Nkwanta road.

Manasseh’s post on his facebook wall then asked, is it Bribe, Conflict of Interest or both?  Many Commentators wondered why for a journalist of his stature to deliberately leave out the gift component in his question, raised eyebrows.

I have endeavoured to find out why a President will get a gift of a Ford vehicle when the State of Ghana has placed at his disposal fleets of vehicles, helicopters and air planes? I have managed to piece together this chronology of events:

·       Jibril Kanazoe is a friend of all the Mahamas.

·       Jibril’s father died on 19th October, 2011. Knowing that they are friends of the Mahamas, the Ambassador of Ghana to Burkina Fasso, Chief Bawumiah accordingly informed Mr. John Mahama (JM), then Vice President, of the unfortunate death of his friend’s father. As tradition required, JM provided some financial support for his friend to organize the funeral.

·        Interestingly, upon receiving the donation, Jibril did not keep it but sent it to the Kanazoe family and informed them of what his friend the Vice President of Ghana had sent to help them organize the funeral.

·       During the funeral, the Vice President  sent a delegation to the funeral led by the then Upper East Regional Minister and some  NDC regional party executives; and there again the delegation made a funeral donation on behalf of the Vice President  in the full glare of every body

·       In the Muslim culture and tradition, a year after a funeral, they would normally sit down and   take stock.

·       During that meeting, it was discussed that the way the Ghana Vice President had been so good and helpful to the family,  they [the Kanazoes]  should also reciprocate to show to the Veep that they appreciated what he had done for them.

·       That is how the issue of a vehicle came up. And they decided to give a vehicle to John Mahama.  Jibril Kanazoe , owns what is the equivalent of Mechanical Lloyd in Burkina Faso which,  deals in Ford, Kia and BMWs. So he was tasked by the family to donate a vehicle to his friend on behalf of the family. He informed the Ghanaian Ambassador in Burkina Faso that the family wishes to donate a car to Mr. John Mahama

·       On 29th of October, 2012, the Ghana Mission in Burkina sent the vehicle to Ghana and left it with Mark Woyongo, then Upper East Regional Minister for onward presentation to the president.

So how can a traditional exchange of gifts between two families become a bribe, Manasseh Awuni? What beats my mind is how Manasseh Awuni did not explain why a bribe from Jibril Kanozoe would be presented openly and covered by official documentation from the Embassy of Ghana in.

I see a similarity between Awuni’s attitude and the subversive characteristics of the tools of destabilization the colonialists used to perpetuate their rule in Africa. Kwame Nkrumah in Consciencism, Philosophy and Ideology for De-colonization wrote;

“For its success, the colonial administration needed a cadre of Africans, who, by being introduced to a certain minimum of European education, became infected with European ideals, which they tacitly accepted as being valid for African societies. Because these African instruments of the colonial administration were seen by all to be closely associated with the new sources of power, they acquired a certain prestige and rank to which they were  not entitled  by the demands of the harmonious development of their own society.”

I realize to my dismay that Manasseh Awuni’s characteristics have long been predicted by Nkrumah. Amazing!

As I share my thoughts, I have noted an attitude of “i-don’t careism” in the way Azure Awuni is prosecuting his agenda against his fellow Northerners.  He is quoted to have said, “some prominent people from Northern Ghana have told me that I am allowing southerners to use me against my own people.”

In response, Manasseh said, “I work as a Ghanaian, and I don’t consider ethnicity in my line of duty. For instance, when I met rLG’s Roland Agambire in my investigations into his companies’ involvement in the GYEEDA and SADA scandals, we spoke Gurune (Frafra). He calls me his younger brother and I call him my elder brother. We speak the same the same language, but I did my work without any ethnic consideration, knowing the potential damage my work could cause to his business. This is what I expect to see in the Ghana I am prepared to die for. We should rise above ethnicity.”

Do I blame Manasseh? I don’t. Truth be told, the management of SADA by a northerner is a terrible example. But, SADA is only one. What about the Ghana Youth Entrepreneurial and Employment Programme (GYEEDA)? Again, a “Northerner” was put in charge, in the person of Mr. Abuga Pele. A company called Rlg, and owned by Mr. Roland Agambire, was contracted to train people in Information Communication Technology (ICT).

As reports have shown, the company was paid the full amount up-front, but it failed to train the number of trainees, as agreed. No, I have not forgotten about the infamous guinea fowl matter. Once again, poor “Northerners” were going be turned into instant millionaires by getting them to produce guinea fowls. Once again, the transformation was going to be performed with the magic wand or Midas touch of Roland Agambire, through his Asongtaba Cottage Industries. What happened?

As a former renowned Sports broadcaster Joe Lartey would say, “Over to you, Manasseh and your Northern elite.”  If you do well, you do for yourself. If you do badly, you do for yourself.

Observers are watching.
 
 
Source: Fonibi Larnor/ The Republic Newspaper
 
 

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