President Nana Akufo-Addo has no right to complain about the ‘Akyem Mafia’ and ‘Sakawa Boys’ tags used to describe some of his “friends and family members” serving in his government, who are behind the “shady” and “untidy” Agyapa Royalties deal, former President John Mahama has said.
Mr Mahama said although he shared on his Facebook timeline, a statement issued by Minority MP Isaac Adongo, in which the lawmaker described the President as well as his friends and his relatives in government as ‘Akyem Mafia’ and ‘Sakawa Boys’, “I’ll be the last person to disparage any tribe or ethnic group”.
At a meeting with the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the Jubilee House on Friday, 4 August 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo not only said he was “very disturbed” by the ethnocentric tagging of his ethnic group but also noted that “that is the kind of language we don’t want in our politics.”
“Sometimes, one would hope when things come out, people will comment on them. The comment made by my opponent: ‘Akyem Sakawa’ people, I have not heard any public figure in this country or anybody comment on it.”
“If I was to get up to make a comment about northerners or Gonjas, you can imagine the uproar that will be in the country,” the President bemoaned.
According to him, free speech must not be seen from the perspective of allowing the opposition to go at the government at the least opportunity.
“If you criticise the government, no matter what you say, it is legitimate. If the government is to respond, that is somehow illegitimate”, the President complained, adding: “If the President opens his mouth and says something that is unacceptable, he should be reprimanded. In the same way, opposition politicians, if they conduct themselves by their utterances in an unacceptable manner, they should be brought to book.”
Responding to the President’s angry complaint, however, the flagbearer of the NDC told Eric Ahianyo in an interview on TV XYZ on Saturday, 5 September 2020 that: “In the first place, the National Chairman of my party, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, NDC, is an Akyem and so are many leading members of my party and members and supporters and when I was President, I appointed many Akyems in my government”.
“The head of our Manifesto Drafting Committee, Prof Danso Barfuor, is an Akyem and they have all contributed to our government and our forward march to recapture power in the December elections in order that we can create jobs, spread development in an equitable manner throughout the country”, Mr Mahama pointed out.
He said: “Everybody knows me since I’ve been in politics and I’ll be the last to express any ethnic sentiments”.
“In any case”, Mr Mahama noted, “President Nana Akufo-Addo has lost the right to complain a long time ago”.
The former President explained: “He [President Akufo-Addo] was an opposition leader who called Presidents before him anything you can imagine, including ‘Prof Do Little’ and then he described somebody as a ‘Simpa Panyin’ and I don’t want to repeat the others things he said”.
Mr Mahama continued: “He’s the President who has called his critics naysayers and Jeremiahs”, adding: “I don’t understand on what standard he can be offended at this time because he has precedence of name-calling”.
Speaking about the President’s angry disposition with which he made the complaint to the Catholic Bishops, Mr Mahama said: “I think that temperament in leadership is very important and there are many things a president should attend to and you must not appear, in public, to have lost your cool”.
“He seemed very angry, that’s true, but I think he should maintain his temperament to come across as a good leader”, Mr Mahama advised.
Mr Mahama also accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of launching on Mr Adongo’s statement to rather stir up ethnocentric sentiments.
“OK, remember that on two occasions in the recent past, I had called for a debate with President Akufo-Addo. He’s not found it worthy to respond to that call. I can understand President Akufo-Addo’s frustration, desperation and deliberate attempt to whip up ethnic sentiments in this particular case but I don’t think it will wash”, Mr Mahama said.
“I’ve advocated a campaign of issues and that is what I’m focusing on as I engage and interact with people on my tour of this country”, he noted.
Mr Mahama also denied that the Akyem Mafia and Sakawa Boys description was targeted at the President’s ethnic groups.
“It is important for me to point out that no one has described his ethnic group or any other ethnic group in the manner in which the President mounts this complaint.
“What I remember is: I shared a post of one of our very fine and brilliant MPs for Bolgatanga Central, that is Hon, Isaac Adongo, and in that post, Adongo describes certain people in Akufo-Addo’s government, and you know he has a lot of members of his family and friends in his government, so, Isaac Adongo describes those behind a certain shady and untidy deal in the government in a particular manner”, Mr Mahama explained.