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Bawku Residents reject food donations Veep…Bonaa and Adiib call for wider consultation

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Some residents of Bawku, a conflict-hit town in the Upper East Region, rejected food donated by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
The Vice President provided 500 mini bags of rice to be distributed among the victims of the protracted conflict in the area.
The one-minute and thirty-second video shows the Municipal  Chief Executive Officer (MCE) for Bawku, Amada Hamza, announcing the arrival of the items before unloading them from the truck.
“Good morning to you all. The purpose of this meeting is very simple. His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, on hearing of some complaints in Bawko on the plight of the people in Bawku on how people have been affected as a result of the conflict, has done the work of a zeeman by extending his courtesies to persons who were affected by the conflict.

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“Simply put, he handed over 500 bags of rice to the people of Bawku. It is across all tribes, it is across all persons in Bawk. So it is our duty to accept it as well. As the village chief, as the representative of His Excellency Mr. President in the village, to accept it and then sit down and get a committee that will be able to pay this rice. So it’s that simple. So we can thank His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana very much,” said the MCE.
The arrival of food was met with rejection by residents from the Kusasi faction of the conflict. Explaining the reasons for the rejection, the residents said the ruler of Kusaug Traditional Area, Zugraan Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, was not informed before the food was brought to Bawku. This, they say, is tantamount to disrespecting the authority of the traditional ruler.
They cause problems regarding where the food is stored. For them, the items were taken to an area controlled by the Mamprusi for storage without notification and involvement of the Kusasi.
Some of the youths are also blaming the Vice President for what they describe as his long silence on the Bawku conflict, which is why they have decided to reject his gifts.
A security expert and member of a government delegation that recently visited the area to broker peace between the two warring factions, Dr. Adam Bonaa, applauded the youths for bringing their concerns to the attention of duty bearers without resorting to arms.
He told The Herald’s Haruna Sumaila Abugri that it is better to express concern with words than with guns.
“It’s better to put it that way than to take up arms and say we’ve been disrespected.” I believe that if these talks are usually talked about, it will never lead to an all-out firefight and Bawku will now become a war zone. So as far as I’m concerned, their concerns need to be looked into. We must listen to them. It could be a mistake on the part of those who gave the gifts on behalf of the Vice President and it could be a mistake on the part of the youths who are not happy because they feel that Bawku Naba was disrespected.
“These conversations require more dialogue and more understanding. From where I sit, some of the things you need to bring to the table are those who are not happy. Maybe there was some miscommunication. Maybe someone didn’t behave well. Maybe he’s not behaving well. But you had an opportunity, you heard from them; so you sit down with them and then you explain your part,” Dr. Bonaa said.
In Dr. Bonao’s opinion, the advice of the Bawku ruler should have been sought before the food was delivered, and the two groups could have reached a neutral ground about where the food should be stored and how it would be distributed. He added that it would erase any suspicion on either side.
He pointed to dialogue as an effective way to strengthen the state-initiated peace-building process. He noted that it is time for the people of Bawku to understand that they are one people and move forward in unity for development to happen. He also urged duty bearers, especially the office of the Vice President, to listen to those who have been harmed.
He expressed happiness that the campaign to silence the guns in the area was getting the attention it needed.
In a phone interview with The Herald, security analyst Adiib Saani noted that broader consultations are needed between various groups in the area.
He added that even if that doesn’t happen, there is still an opportunity for the government to reach out to Kusasis.
He said if what the Kussasis were saying was anything to go by, then the government had made a mistake by not engaging both sides sufficiently before sending the food to Bawko. The conflict in Bawko, he noted, required a multidimensional approach.
Mr. Adiib complained that poor intelligence gathering and the porous nature of the country’s borders were contributing to the flow of firearms into the restive village and called on the authorities to step up their efforts. He disclosed that Bawku is currently the weak link of extremism.
“Bawku is our weakest link in the fight against violent extremism in Ghana. Because of these problems, it (Bawku) almost became illegal. Not once were some individuals seen in the area fighting from Burkina Faso.
“Some terrorist groups could come to support both sides. So they are given a safe haven. You know, where there is lawlessness, there is always a possibility that criminal elements will take hold and terrorists can take advantage of that,” he said.
Efforts to contact the MCE, Amada Hamza, were unsuccessful as text messages and calls to his MTN number went unanswered.

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