The Chief of Garu, Naba Akontam Awini, has incurred the wrath of the Paramount Chief of the Bawku Traditional Area, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, over his alleged endorsement of the presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Media reports had headlined the Paramount Chief of Bawku himself in the last week of August, this year, to have openly declared his support for the NPP’s flagbearer. The same reports featured the Chief of Garu as having through his spokesperson, Jacob Jambaidu, openly done same for the same candidate during his recent campaign tour of the Upper East region.
The development- that the King of the Kusaug Kingdom had openly ‘mortgaged’ over 200,000 subjects under his rule to one political party- left many mouths opened in raw shock across the country. But a counter press statement issued through the office of the respected ruler soon overtook those reports, strongly refuting them as false with barely three months to the general elections.
The denial from the paramount palace soothed many ruffled nerves, particularly those of the NPP’s archrivals- the supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). And it may even gladden them further not only to know that the revered monarch is not only angry with his divisional chief but also to hear that he has also summoned him and his spokesperson for questioning.
“Bawku Naba has summoned Garu Naba to come and explain his conduct because chiefs are not to openly declare their support for politicians. They are to receive politicians cordially when they come and wish them well, and not to openly endorse them because that is at variance with the policy of the National House of Chiefs,” Secretary and Spokesperson for the Chief of Bawku, Thomas Abilla said.
The chief and the discordant mouthpiece
Time may drag for a while on the widely anticipated outcome of the summons. This is because the Zug-Raan, as the Chief of Bawku is also known, has received a word through his office that the summoned chief has been taken ill.
Until the health of the subpoenaed chief improves enough for him to appear before the angry authorities who enthroned him, the fate of his spokesperson also will continue to swing perilously in the balance. The under-pressure chief is said to be an illiterate and reportedly does not understand the English language.
The Paramount Chief of Bawku, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, surrounded by his council of elders
His spokesperson, a retired health professional, is said to have written his speech in English for him and deliberately misrepresented his message to please Nana Akufo-Addo and to sweeten a crowd of NPP supporters at the palace. Mr. Jambaidu, said to be the father of the NPP’s Constituency Chairman at Garu, reportedly became a popular NPP activist soon after his retirement from civil service about three years ago. The chief, sources say, also trusted that his spokesperson would not let him down because they are siblings.
But the spokesperson, in an audio tape available to Starr News, can be heard amid raucous cheers and vuvuzela blast from the crowd at the palace, saying: “Garu Naba said I should stand on his behalf and the chiefs of the area to deliver this short message to our incoming president. He says he believes that the NPP, what they say they will do, they will do it when they are in power. In this his shed, ex-President J.A. Kufuor sat here. He gave them a plea, with other chiefs, that our problem was a district. And ex-President Kufuor told him, ‘Let me win and you will get your district’, and it was done. So, [if] NPP says it will be done, it must be done.”
He continued as the crowd also persistently cheered very loud: “Garu is a very large area…We have no hospital. We were promised, it was said, that we were going to get a hospital. We those here did not see it (the hospital) but we heard from news that it was at [lintel, roofing] level… But now, chief and his people want to declare that the area (the hospital construction site) is still standing, encroached with only trees but no structure. Your Excellency, when you become the president, our first and big trouble is getting a district hospital. We have been promised so many, many years… that we were going to get the Tamne Irrigation [Dam]…Is it just going to be a deceit like our hospital?”
Garu chief ‘hails’ NPP’s “one village, one dam” policy
Whilst the unschooled chief sat in state, listening but fully uninformed about what was exciting everyone from a prepared speech his spokesperson was expected to deliver to the visitors and the crowd, his trusted mouthpiece said more things that probably may have sent him to his sickbed as Bawku Naba impatiently awaits his recovery for thorough interrogation.
In plain words attributed to him by Mr. Jambaidu, the chief also applauded Nana Akufo-Addo over his “one village, one dam” policy. He also faulted the Mahama Administration strongly for failing to fulfill the Eastern Corridor Road promised Garu, for allegedly neglecting the only senior high school in the area and for "collapsing" the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
“Chief says he has a radio [set] by him. He has listened to some of your campaign messages, which touched his heart: one district, one factory; one village, one dam. Let it be real. He is urging you to let it be real for his people. And he [hopes] that you will do it as what President Kufuor promised and did,” Mr. Jambaidu said with pleasure amid deafening roars from the audience.
Referring to the flagbearer, he added: “I don’t know where you passed and came. But chief said, looking at the Bawku Trunk Road, linking so many countries, so many districts. That road has been made unmotorable. We have had promise- Eastern Corridor. When is the Eastern Corridor getting to Garu? When? When? Your Excellency, when you sit down, let that road be your priority.”