President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Senior Advisor, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has apologised for saying Asantes were not part of Ghana’s independence struggle, which, he noted, was led by the Akyems.
The apology follows the leakage of a tape on which he is heard making the ethnocentric comment while having a conversation with some colleagues.
The former Finance Minister issued a statement on Friday, 1 July 2022, saying the “comment was never intended to stir up ethnic tensions between Akyems and Asantes”.
“Ethnic tension is not a thing I want for our country or the NPP”, he added.
“Despite the nature and circumstances of the discussion, I concede that I erred,” he said.
“I, therefore, wish to offer my unqualified and sincere apologies for these comments,” he added.
According to him, his “many years of public service creating divisions is not a thing I will seek to do for a country that I love and spent many decades serving as a public officer.”
“Beyond party politics, I will continue to share a common objective and vision for the country, even if the pathway to getting there might differ.”
This is the second time Mr Osafo-Maafo has been caught on tape making ethnocentric comments.
The first incident happened in February 2015, when Mr Osafo-Maafo was captured on tape saying that even though about 90 per cent of Ghana’s natural resources are concentrated in mainly Akan-speaking regions of the country, it is people who come from regions without resources who were governing – at the time.
The comment was contained on an audiotape secretly recorded as Mr Osafo-Maafo addressed some party members ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, who spoke the Twi language punctuated with some English, was 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,” he said, cautioning: “You can’t say this openly,” except 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,” he added.
In his estimation, as reported at the time, “86.5 per cent of resources in Ghana come from five regions: Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, and Central. This is where 86 per cent of the resources of Ghana come from. … And the oil was also discovered in the West. It will change the formula to about 90 per cent. We cannot ignore these five regions. We should not.”
However, clarifying the comment to the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Friday, 20 January 2017 during his vetting as Senior Minister-designate, Mr Osafo-Maafo said: “This is one of those distorted ‘cut-and-paste’ statements”.
“I’m the Chairman of the Council of Elders of the NPP in the Eastern Region. We were fighting this election  on the economy and I was giving a series of lectures on the economy to various groups within the region. When it got to the turn of the Council of Elders, the regional chair spoke, Hon Hackman spoke, I spoke and I spoke on the economy, but you don’t talk about the economy by starting with the resource location … I started by talking about how poorly this economy has been managed that we have gone from GHS9.4bn debt to GHS110bn debt at the time, and how growth, without oil, was GHS1.9bn and had dwindled to about 4% etc., … And I said something which I’ve said in this room: that Ghana is not poor and that the resource base of this country is found in five regions and I mentioned the regions specifically because I was making a strong economic argument”.
“Now, people removed all that I said about the poor management of the economy and then made it look like I started by talking about the resource locations of this thing and put it forward and changed certain things to make me look like I was being a tribalist and it was bad, this is where I find people very mischievous … You take the whole thing out of context and make it look very tribalistic, so, I think, yes, it happened, newspapers reported something wrong and I think people should be ashamed of themselves when they do this kind of ‘cut-and-paste’ to create that wrong impression in the system…” Mr Osafo-Maafo explained.
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