The chaos began when she was mentioned the Municipal Chief Executive nominee for the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality, the rampaging spree began in earnest as feelings were hurt. Party stalwarts felt betrayed, then began the nationwide rampaging, though they were bruised deep inside, some sadly respected the president’s decision and went ahead to confirm their nominees, others who felt the President has been manipulated by some regional party executives held on to their entrenched position of no backing out until the number one gentleman of the nation heeds to their demands of a new candidate.
But the learned lawyer stood unshakable amidst the wailing of constituents especially those in my own Savelugu. The first press conference was held to drum home a simple message, “We can’t work with an alien, she never actively participated in any NPP event in either Savelugu or Nanton constituency”. One, two, three, and the press conferences were uncountable followers by demonstrations but amidst the agitation and demonstrations, Hajia pulled 50 out of the total votes of 64 representing 78% votes.
You should have seen the number of police and military officers that flooded the Municipal Assembly on May 13, 2017 all in the name of providing adequate security. I have never seen that gargantuan size of military cum police officers not even when I reported from the conflict areas.
The honourable member was actually whisked away in the Northern Regional Minister’s car after the voting….they dared not leave her behind. Assembly members who cast their votes that day were shielded by the security until such a time that they could step out. I saw rage, for the first time I witnessed elderly women sobbing in the glare of people not for the death of anybody but because they felt betrayed. They cursed as they wept….did I hear someone say, “I will kill her if she dare steps foot in this office? Yes, I did and that was how dire the situation was.
She was provided with tight security which came only after we reported that she has not been to her office after one month, a handing over ceremony between the Coordinating Director Braimah Basintale and her on June, 16 2017 but for the security was nearly chaotic. Then her first official the next day visit met a locked office by disgruntled persons. Then came in the interesting part, security take over. I must commend the security as they did a good job dealing with miscreants. They fired live bullets at a point under the orders of their commander, I’m told.
But the protesters were prepared to lose their lives, it was clear that not even the almost forty security personnel could stop them from ensuring the first ever female Municipal Chief Executive in the municipality works. As a feminist, I was brood, I was like what the hell is wrong with these people? But there was something wrong actually, they had a misconception about their MCE and all they needed was a listening ear. Something that had eluded them for over 31 days. They needed someone to share their pains and anguish with but had none.
I think as humans, there are moments that we really need someone to watch and listen to us pour out all the pains, hatred etc. We find solace after doing that and I bet that was all the people of Savelugu needed but the Chairman of the Regional Security Council Salifu Saeed and his people opted the hard way out by flooding the premises with security but ironically, neither Honourable Salifu Saeed nor any regional executive of NPP dared step in Savelugu especially when the whole thing took a security twist, not even the Regional Chairman Daniel Bugri Naabu alias chairman bulldozer.
It was a cloudy Monday morning June 19. There arrived the hero in Savelugu: Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of National Security. I saw his entry to the hall where constituents had waited for over five hours just to listen and to be listened. The meeting began with real men shedding tears, Member of Parliament for Savelugu Somed Gunu shed the first tear then the drum of tears began beating. Some men had to walk out of the hall because they couldn’t stand the sight of their MP trying to convince them to rescind their decision of not accepting the MCE.
Soon, Bryan took the podium and just like we see in movies he began, “my people of Savelugu, I bring you greetings from the President, the President says I should tell you that he has heard your cries, he appreciates and shares in your pain….(after the long winding came the moment of truth) but the President, your president says that if he revokes the appointment of your MCE there will be a nationwide uprising as others will demand same and that will make our beloved party unpopular. So the President has asked me to come and beg you to please accept and work with her”.
I must say that I was in a meeting with the MCE together with REGSEC, I told that I will be the one to ask for her removal if she disrespects elders and members of the party, we have told her that it is by the toil of some people that we gained power thus she dares not overlook those efforts, so please give her the chance, sooner had he completed his speech than the uproar began, “ti ko sae, ti bien de go, Nana Addo bi shili yel a zogu kpem yela”, to wit….we will not agree, we will not accept her, oooohh Nana Addo, they really spoke about your arrogance.
Then it was time for constituents to be listened and they had a simple message for the President and with a stern face, an elder of the party Alhaji Muftawu announced their denouncement, he ended his message with what appeared to be a life threatening message, “Bryan Acheampong, anya wahala sheili andir ma, tor biela nna bala”, to wit….what you have seen can’t be compared to what you’re yet to see”. Hoooooh, like seriously? I would have been on the next flight to Accra I was him but he stayed with these same people who had threatened him, daring to succeed and yes he did.
My phone rang at about 7pm Wednesday, June 21 and it was the usual call from Savelugu….I groaned as picked the call because I had become fed up with calls to cover demonstrations and press conferences but lo and behold, the voice said, “sweetheart there will be a press conference tomorrow”. I cut him by asking, when will you guys give up? Then he said, “we’re making headway”, as in? I asked and with a giggle he replied, “as in we have accepted our MCE, we have been in meetings the entire day with her and Bryan and it’s been successful”.
I had smiles, giggled then burst out with laughter. Alas, there’s some sanity in there. I was the first journalist to arrive in Savelugu at the exact time I was given. Finally the fleet of car arrived at the palace of the founder of NPP Chief Alhassan Ibrahim with the Queen Hajia Ayishetu Seidu that proceeded with a durbar to tell the world that yes the MCE can work and has the support of all citizens. Some felt it’s a staged event, there may be some pockets of misunderstanding still lingering on but at least Savelugu isn’t in the news for bad reasons.
And all that was achieved through dialogue in less than 72hrs, the heavy security presence and brutalities failed woefully. What I have for our office holders is this: Henceforth, I think as a country we should opt for dialogue at the face of friction and I bet no misunderstanding will last more than necessary.
By Zubaida Ismail
The writer is the Norther Region correspondent for 3news.com, TV3, Onua FM and 3FM.