Oh John Akparibo Ndebugre, safe journey back to your Maker!

In the wake of the December 31, 1981 Revolution that toppled the Dr Hilla Liman’s administration of the 3rd Republic and brought the J.J.Rawlings-led Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to power,  John Ndebugre became a household name in the Upper East Region.

The region has since been divided into Upper East and Upper West regions, largely through his advocacy to bring governance and decentralization on the doorstep of the that part of the country.

May the soul of this gentle anti-corruption campaigner and human rights activist rest in perfect peace.

Ndebugre died at home in Zebila in the Upper East Region on May 6, 2022 at the ripe age of 72.

His journey back to his Maker after fulfilling his mandate on earth starts Thursday July 14 with laying in state and file past at the forecourt of the State House, then to his hometown, Timonde,  a suburb of Zebilla in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region, for private burial on Saturday, June 16.

A life worth living and worthy of celebration. You have achieved a lot for the region and for the country. Nde, go rest peacefully in the bosom of your creator!

You may at a point in your political career, especially during the PNDC era, had been a “hated fellow” for your positions on various issues. It is part of life. Not everything you stood for could go down well with everybody. Even prophets were hated and vilified, not to talk about you, a mere mortal.

Indeed, your name invoked fear in people. John AkpariboNdebugre was the PNDC the Upper Regional Secretary, after you had briefly served as the Northern Regional Secretary. You were a no-nonsense man in the region.

You fiercely stood against corruption, smuggling and other vices. You upheld the tenets of the revolution that you had chosen to serve: Probity, honesty and accountability!!

Mr. Ndebugri, his deputy Martin Amidu, the immediate past Special Prosecutor, and one Inspector Alidu, then a corporal were “very hot” in the region. They made people whose lives were at variance with the tenets of the revolution feelvery hot in the region!

Nde, as he was fondly called, was also referred to as “Ade bungu”. “Bungu” in the local Frafra dialect means fire! They say he was like fire!

Though we all attended the same Navrongo Secondary School (NAVASCO), now Navrongo SHS, I am a “latter-day saint” having completed in 1986. You were a classmate of my elder brother, Mahamadu Salifu, of the 1965-1970 year group. You both read Chemical Engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and completed in 1976.

My brother worked for the State Gold Mining Corporation (Prestea Goldfields Limited) in the Western Region, while you had a stint at near-by Aboso Glass Factory before you left briefly for Nigeria and later invited to join the PNDC.

You once told me that during your days at Aboso, the factory had taken a dip in production due to the economic challenges, so you briefly went to Asankragwato teach as a volunteer. You added that the current Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph BoahenAidoo,  was your student.

While at the helm of affairs in the region in the 80s, some of us could not get close to you. My perception was that you were a “fearsome” person.

You were, perhaps, regarded as the “most hated person” because you reportedly caused the arrest and detention of lawyer Larry Bimi (now of blessed memory), who later became the Chairman of the National Commission on Civic Education, Alexander Awuni (also deceased), who was the accountant for the then Frafra District Assembly and Zira, a contractor, allegedly for anti-revolution conduct. You might have applied all the anti-revolutionary disciplinary rules. Though, at hindsight you might agree with me there were some excesses.

The Bolgatanga Union Uppers, a veritable football club in the region, had won the Second Division league in 1982 to join the then elite national First Division League. However, some underground hands had denied and deprived the club the right to participate in the first division league. One of the reasons allegedly cited was that Bolgatanga, the regional capital, was far from the southern clubs and the road network then was in a very deplorable state.

In your “say it as it is” manner, you were reported to have burst out about the raw deal handed to the club, and in your usual outbursts against cheating and corruption, threatened (jokingly) to apply for the club to join the league in Burkina Faso, as that is quite closer.

I am too young to recall all about you. I know you to be a very straight forward, honest person. You say things as they are, irrespective of how bitter and piercing they are to others. Some referred to you as someone with “diarrhoeal mouth.”

Ironically, when you were reassigned from the Upper East Region to become the PNDC Secretary for Agriculture, the people in the region said they missed you a lot. You elevated the region, and virtually every news item on the Radio Ghana and the newspapers then carried activities in the region, which you ably steered.

Fast forward, I came closer to you when you became the Member of Parliament for Zebila (2005-2009). I was then the Ghanaian Times Parliamentary Correspondent. You opened up to me, especially when I introduced myself to you as the brother of your friend and classmate MahamaduSalifu.

You confided in me that you fell out with the PNDC government and following that you chose to drive your own taxi, plying the Accra- Aflao route, to raise funds to finance your education at the Law School. That one top government official approached you to plead with you to stop, because it was an embarrassment to the government for you to stoop that low to drive a taxi.

We often met at NAVASCO for our annual General Meeting and Homecoming. I made it a habit to cruise to your house at Zebilla, close to the Custom Barrier, the roast guinea fowl marketing centre, for the delicacy that brought me to your house any time I was on holidays.

I paid my last visit to your house in November last year, after our school’s (NAVASCO) 60th anniversary celebration during which  you were missed a lot because you were not around.

My visit to your house at that time was ostensibly to enjoy my delicacy, as though I had sealed a guinea fowl pact with you. Unfortunately, you had also travelled. I had a chat with Nma Sophia, your dear wife, who was then indisposed.

I visited your house in the suburb of Accra upon hearing of your passing to eternity and in a rather emotional mood, Nma Sophia told me you had been running around to see to her health and hardly did she think that you would be going back to your Maker that soon. Very touching and moving!

Nma Sophia Ndebugre, I know you went through difficult times, especially in the stormy days of the revolution with your husband, daughter and sons of Mr Ndebugre: Reverend Patience Ndebugre, Vladimir, Thomas and Nelson, take heart and be rest assured that Dad has completed his mission on earth and his duty to his Maker. Surely, he will rest well and peacefully!!

Oh Nde, for my part, let me ask you: Is it the end of our guinea fowl pact? Certainly not, I will forever remember you each time I see a Guinea fowl. Fare Thee Well!!

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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