TRIBALISM AND THE 2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS
All too soon, Ghana has just eleven more days to go to the polls to decide who the majority of eligible Ghanaian electorates believe is the right person to spearhead the affairs of government business for the next four years. Many issues have come up in the run up to this election. It is not far from truth to assert that this year's general elections has had more labels and substantial issues raised and discussed than previous elections. Some of these issues that have been raised tend to have rippling effects on our cultural heritage and coexistence. It would be hard to clearly determine what would take place after the dust surrounding the 2016 general elections is finally settled when the winner is declared.
The issue of tribalism and ethnocentrism have been discussed in the run-up to the general elections. Many people are of the view that Ghanaians are one people regardless of their ethnic affiliations. However, it has become common place in recent times to see and hear some candidates in this year's general elections campaign on ethnic grounds.
The sitting president and candidate on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress came under a barrage of attack and criticism when it came to light that his speech had hints of tribalism. President Mahama is reported to have engaged in ethnic politics in the northern part of the country to get votes. “I pity Northerners who are calling for change,” President Mahama, told residents of Lawra in the Upper West Region when toured the area as part of his campaign. He reportedly called on Northerners not to vote for Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP, because they hate people from the north, adding “they will use you and dump you.” These comments did not go down well with many people who called on opinion leaders and other bodies to call the president to order. Even the leader of the main opposition party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, spoke against the president's remarks. It can be recalled however, that, ex-president John Agyekum Kuffour at a campaign tour in the Eastern region, urged party faithfuls to vote massively for Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo because he was their "son", a comment that has tribal outlook.
It can therefore be said that, on the issue of tribalism, both the NDC and NPP will be found culpable for such utterances. Is it to the bane of our existence as people from different ethnic backgrounds? Does it augur well for national development? These are the issues that need to be looked at to avoid anything untoward in future.
We need to hold our leaders accountable for their speech and let them know that whatever they say or do would likely come back and bite them in future. Whether or not the electorate would look beyond these misgivings and vote on issues would be soon decided come 7th December.