As a young professional, I have been following Prof. Stephen Adei for some years now, often taking inspiration from his exploits at GIMPA. Indeed, I was unhappy when people questioned his credentials as a professor some time ago. However, the good Professor has been disappointing me in recent times. I was deeply disappointed when he made huge corruption allegations against Members of Parliament (MPs) without showing any evidence of scientific value. Whilst I felt that an academic of his standing should have done better with scientific or other evidence, I considered that it in the larger context of ‘everyone can err’.
Shockingly, however, it has been reported again (citi-fm) that he is claiming that 1 in 4 (25%) of President Mahama’s appointees are from Northern Ghana. While parts of Brong Ahafo and Volta regions are within the northern belt, for the sake of this argument, I conservatively assume that he was referring to the three regions in the north: Northern, Upper East and Upper West. Even though I am an ardent admirer of the good professor, I deem his comments as baseless and intended to create or exacerbate tribal or regional polarisation in the country. In this piece, I understand the risk of being misconstrued as sounding tribalistic or sectional just as Prof. Adei did. However, I personally value the unity and cohesion in Ghana based upon which I have been able to live and work peacefully in the deprived Afram Plains area for 8 years and also got married to a non-northerner who we are happy together. I thus, abhor tribalism, sectionalism, nepotism etc.
First of all, the 1992 constitution enjoins the president to ensure regional balance in his appointments. The North is made up of three (3) out of the ten (10) regions in Ghana: Northern, Upper East and Upper West. These constitute 30% of the 10 regions. Assuming (without admitting) that the claims by Prof. Adei that 25% of President Mahama’s appointees are from the north is true, it does not statistically violate the principle of regional balance espoused in the directive principles of state policy. Or is he simply saying that the people from the north are not Ghanaian enough or qualified enough for such appointments? The questions a professor of his stature should have been addressing to merit the impression he sought to create were, inter-alia: has the president erred in appointing 25% (if indeed is the case) of his appointees from three out of ten regions? Are those so appointed meritorious of such appointments? Has the President in making his appointments unduly neglected a particular region? He woefully failed to address these critical questions which are basic for any researcher addressing the subject matter.
History is a good guide, and also, without comparison, the relative value of anything (commodities, policy decisions etc) cannot be ascertained, so I would make a small comparison here. During President John Kufour’s first term, of 44 substantive ministers (as Wikipedia has it now), more than half (approximately 52%) were of Akan extraction; 26% of who were from Ashanti region. This left the three regions in the north and also Volta region with 4.3%-4.5% per region (i.e. the three regions in the north had a paltry 13%). On average, this translated into 2 ministers from each of those regions (i.e. a regional minister and one other). The trend did not change in deputy ministerial appointments or members of boards. His second term was even worse. It is, therefore, intriguing that in those days that Prof. Adei was in active academic work, he did not find this in his research(es), or at least he did not see it as a problem for discuss. This type selectivity so-called academic discourse leaves much to be desired.
Secondly, why did Prof. Adei choose a forum in Kumasi to make such potentially divisive statements that could provoke or exacerbate ethnno-politicl polarisation? Was it a deliberate attempt to whip ethnic sentiments of the good people in the Ashanti Region against those from the north or the usual attempt to make the president unpopular? Certainly, just as the statistics did not support the impression he sought to create, the chosen venue further exposes the mischief the professor’s assertion.
It is also worth noting that the three regions in the north appear to have the most varied combinations of different ethnic groups. If that is also a relevant factor to consider, then I rather deem as mean, the representation of these ethnic groups in government. The only criteria upon which the argument of Prof. Adei would appear reasonable is population size. Projections based on the 2010 population and housing census show that the three regions in the north are said to have about 17% of the country’s population. However, this estimate excludes indigenes of the north who have migrated and settled in other regions, (a number we all know is significant). Even that, the population of the Northern region, in particular, is often thought to be underestimated (a topic for another discussion). Nevertheless, population size alone appears to be the least important ingredient for regional balance per the constitutional requirement. So on what basis did Prof. Adei think that 25% for three regions (if indeed it is the case) is too much? Is it not time we stop paying lip service to the north and also see people from there as equally Ghanaians
Whilst Prof. Adei’s arguments are clearly without legal or scientific basis, it echoes a deep-seated level of deprivation some people think should continue to be meted out to the people in some parts of Ghana. For the sake of space, I make one example here. In the current government’s policy of converting polytechnics into technical universities, all the polytechnics in northern Ghana were not considered for an immediate upgrade on the pretext that they were not sufficiently developed. Is it fair for past governments to fail to develop the institutions in the north and then turn around to use it (government failure to develop) as basis to exclude them from further development? Similar arguments have been used to deprive the north of many development initiatives and opportunities. Now Prof. Adei is further suggesting that the people from the north should be excluded from serving the nation in public service even if they qualify? Rather than mischievously jumping at anything in pursuit of remaining relevant, I humbly advise him to keep quiet when he has no new or meaningful research finding to share with Ghanaians.
While I remain your admirer, Prof., you got it wrong, come again.
Disclaimer: The writer is non-partisan and therefore this piece is not intended for partisan political points.
By: James Avoka Asamani/ghanaPoliticsonline.Com/Email: email@example.com