Baffour played role in founding UP tradition— Dr Akoto

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, has appealed to the leadership of the New Patriotic Party to recognise the contribution of the late Okyeame Baffour Osei Akoto in the political development of the tradition and accord him a place.

“Given his strategic role in founding and leading the NLM and in playing such a critical part in the negotiations for the formation of the United Party (the precursor of the New Patriotic Party), it is surprising that Baffour Akoto does not even get a mention in contemporary discussion on the history of our political tradition,” he said.

Delivering a lecture in the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi yesterday to commemorate the “Re-Akoto Memorial lectures,” Dr Afriyie said “there is a gaping hole in contemporary discourse on his enormous contribution,” calling for “urgent steps to rectify this omission.”

Titled “The legacy of Baffour Osei Akoto: A family Man, a Chief and a Stateman,” Dr Afriyie, who is the 18th born of the Okyeame Baffour Akoto,touched on Baffour’s family life, his role as a Chief at the court of three successive Asante Kings spanning nearly seven decades from 1935-2002 and his contribution to the development of politics through the leadership role he played in the mid-50s “which continues to reverberate in our current political dispensation.”

“Baffour and his ideological allies sought for Ghana was to establish in the country a government based on true democracy, constitutional governance, the rule of law, sound democratic institutions, the freedom of the individual and a national economic development in which the private sector played the dominant role. These elements now form the foundations of Ghana’s constitution,”

He said Baffour was a “strong personality imbued with leadership qualities, endowed with a magnetic influence that drew people of diverse backgrounds in terms of social standing, education, ethnicity, religious persuasion, etc.”

“Although he did not have much formal education, he deployed his indigenous knowledge and wisdom so effectively that he was able to weave together a strong team of highly educated personalities from notable professions such as the law, academia and engineering into a formidable political force to influence the direction of our politics in the 1950s.”

He recalled the rising concerns of both the cocoa farmers and the youth (in Ashanti) conspired to pile political pressure on the prominent Baffour Osei Akoto to provide leadership, adding that on September 7 1954, he led a large crowd of supporters to slaughter a sheep in the sacred. River Subin which runs through the centre of Kumasi, to symbolise the birth of the National Liberation Movement (NLM).

“This was followed by a huge rally at the Prince of Wales Park near Kejetia attended by hundreds and hundreds of people with many coming from beyond the boundaries of Ashanti.”

He added “the NLM sought to ensure checks and balances in governance and to put some restraints on the central government. It is gladdening that later constitutions of Ghana appear to have embraced all these ideas proffered by Baffour and his colleagues. It was the NLM together with the Northern People’s Party that formed the foundation of the United Party (UP) from which the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is rooted.”

The Dr Akoto described Baffour Osei Akoto, born February 22 1904 and passed on September 3, 2002 as “the cultural icon, politician, a quintessential Ghanaian who personified patriotism.”

“we are reminding ourselves that a life well lived will always be remembered. It is incumbent on us, therefore, to give our utmost in the service of country and humanity. The traits that characterised Baffour’s life and works are meant to portray to the citizenry, in particular the youth, a model of the contributions expected of them to make Ghana a better nation.”

He said the life and works of Baffour Osei Akoto entreated all to cultivate the virtue of courage to banish elements that may jeopardise the progress of the nation.

 “He did not wait for any sophisticatedweapons to accomplish all these legacies. What he possessed were bravery, oratorical and rhetorical competence, which underpins the importance of language in governance and cultural transmission.”

Noting that there were many areas that threatenedthe survival and the wellbeing of posterity, including corruption of all forms, environmental degradation, the fast eroding values including discipline, care for humanity and neighbourliness, which our forefathers bequeathed to us, Dr Akoto said “let us think and act in ways that would inure to the greater good of society so that some day when we are no more, like Baffour, society would consider it apt to continue our good works.”

He said “at the CPP Government was nursing an ambition to monopolise power in Ghana, it was men like Baffour Osei Akoto who stood up against the emerging dictatorship. And they suffered for it.On November 11,1959, Baffour Akoto, then senior Okyeame of the Asantehene and seven other Ghanaians were arrested and summarily detained without trial under the PDA. The seven persons were Peter Alex Danso, Osei Asibey Mensah, Nana Antwi Boasiako, Joseph Kwadwo Antwi-Kusi, Benjamin Kwaku Owusu, Andrew Kwadwo Edusei and HaliduKramo..

Touching on his traditional life, Dr Akoto said “in the more than six decades of his service to Asanteman, Baffour did a lot to help in promoting Asanteman and Ghana as a whole, as His Majesty Otumfuor Osei Tutu II eloquently expressed in his tribute to Baffour on his passing in 2002.”

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