We understand Mampruli-speaking Bawumia, not Gonja-speaking Mahama— NPP’s Nasara Coordinator tells Talensis

John Mahama and Mahamudu Bawumia. Inset: NPP's Nasara Coordinator, Issah Layaame.

The Nasara Coordinator of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the Talensi Constituency, Issah Layaame, has suggested to the people of his area to consider choosing Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia over John Dramani Mahama at the December general elections because he speaks a language they understand.

Bawumia is running for president on the NPP ticket in a multi-candidate race that has Mahama, a former president, as his main contender from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

When he visited Talensi last Friday as part of his campaign tour of the Upper East region, Bawumia addressed a gathering of small-scale miners in Mampruli, a language spoken in his native North East region but also understood by a section of Talensis who generally speak Talen as their main language.

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia speaking at the Talensi campaign gathering.

In his company were a number of government officials, members of his campaign team, party functionaries and several party followers who gathered at Gban, a gold-mining suburb east of the constituency, to listen to his campaign message.

After the vice president had spoken to the crowd, the nasara coordinator, who works in the constituency as a small-scale miner and was chosen to articulate the concerns of his fellow small-scale miners at the event, suggested to the gathering that it would be insane for them to pick a person outside the bonds of a family over a kinsman at an election. 

NPP’s Nasara Coordinator for Talensi Constituency, Issah Layaame.

“We thank Dr. Bawumia very much for his policy. We think that he is our brother. In any case, we think that if John Mahama comes to speak Gonja and even puts down one billion Ghana cedis, he cannot speak. But because Dr. Bawumia has come to speak our own language, we understand him.

“He is our brother. Even though we understand the two of them are northerners, if they put down four million and eight million, which one would you pick? If you pick four million, they may think that you are mad, because you cannot refuse more and take less,” said the nasara coordinator in the Talen language.

Click the audio above to listen to Issah Layaame’s comments on Bawumia and Mahama at the campaign event.

Disapproval of tribal-based campaign

The nasara coordinator’s statement drew condemnation from some Talensi and Upper East residents. They considered his comments potentially divisive and a threat to peaceful co-existence.

Recall that the National Peace Council (NPC) urged political parties in a press statement issued on 8 July 2020 to refrain from “violence and divisive acts and utterances which would threaten the peaceful conduct of elections and the preservation of Ghana’s reputation as a stable democracy”.  

The NDC’s presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama.

In March, 2024, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) entreated political parties and their supporters to “avoid tribal-based campaigns in the upcoming general elections because they are a threat to national unity”.

“The practice whereby some political actors would say because he is from this place and the other is from that place, holding on with the intention of encouraging the people to vote on ethnic lines, is by itself dangerous and a threat to national unity and interrelations among the people and could destroy the democratic credentials of the country,” said the NCCE’s Chairperson, Kathleen Addy, at a forum on Preventing and Containing Violent Extremism (PCVE).

The NCCE’s Boss, Kathleen Addy.

She added: “These [divisive] tendencies are unacceptable and not good for Ghana’s democracy and must be dealt with once and for all to sustain peace and sustainability for the country”.

Bawumia promises to establish Minerals Development Bank for small-scale miners

The vice president’s campaign message in Talensi centred around bettering the living and working conditions of the small-scale miners if he became president through their support.

He promised that a bank similar to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) established for farmers would be set up for small-scale miners so they could acquire loans to procure machines for their mining operations.

Bawumia stands with the NPP’s parlamentary candidate for Talensi, Robert Ayinenaba Alibo, at the campaign event.

“Now you don’t have the right machines to work well. Is that not so? Is that not so? You don’t have the machines. For that reason, we will help you with the machines. We will introduce a bank which will be called Minerals Development Bank to help small-scale miners in mining, just as we introduced the Agricultural Development Bank to help farmers.

“Minerals Development Bank will also help small-scale miners in mining. The bank will help you to get the machines so that you can work on the gold and get the gold and whatever you need to work on your [tailings dams]. We will put up what is called common user processing facilities so that you can extract the gold. Then, we will buy the gold from you and retain the gold in Ghana and pay you,” Bawumia said.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org/Ghana


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