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29 August 2017

Deputy Agric Minister resigns over ethnocentric comments

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, William Quaitoo has resigned for what many have described as ethnocentric comments about people from the three regions of the North.

President Nana Akufo-Addo accepted his resignation from office this evening, according to the Presidency’s Director of Communications, Eugine Arhin.

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Mr. Quaitoo, who is also the Member of Parliament for Akim Oda, had come under fire for saying, in an interview on Accra-based Star FM, that northern farmers could not be trusted in their assessment of damage from armyworms.

He further intimated that calls for government compensation for farm losses from the northern farmers were simply a ploy to fleece the state.

Our brothers [in northern Ghana], it is so difficult to deal with them. I lived there for 27 years, I speak Dagbani like a Dagomba and all that. They are very difficult people. Nobody can substantiate. If anybody says that his farm was destroyed by armyworm, the person would have to come and prove it. We have no records of that. It’s just a way of taking money from the government; that’s what they do all the time.

Mr. Quaitoo subsequently apologised for his comments in a statement, where he said he meant to imply that “some farmers can be difficult as it is with all regions.”

He also said he prided himself as a Dagomba, having lived in the Northern Region for 27 years, and assured that he would not “consciously spite them.”

Apology not accepted

But the apology would not be enough, with the Minority in Parliament calling for either his resignation or his immediate dismissal from the government for the disparaging comments.

The National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament for Sagnarigu, A. B. A Fuseini, for one, said he would not accept the apology as he felt the damage from the Mr. Quaitoo’s “repulsive” comments had already been done to millions of northerners.

“The people of the three northern regions have been grossly insulted… he has painted us a bunch of unreasonable people who cannot even understand and appreciate normal discourse then he goes on on the basis of that to say that we are untrustworthy people for perpetrating fraudulent activities, making false claims and stealing monies from state coffers,” Mr. Fuseini had said in a Citi News interview.

Criticism also came from within the Flagstaff House, with a presidential staffer, Clara Napaga Tia Sulemana, stating that a mere apology would not be enough.

Ms. Suleman, a Dagomba, described the comments as painful and chided him for making the governing New Patriotic Party look bad in northern Ghana.

“Dagombas are Northerners, Ghanaians and are humans as well, who also have blood running through our veins. We deserve far better from your likes. It’s indeed painful. Those sitting unconcerned and making it look like it’s a small issue we are blowing out of proportion, today it’s about the Dagombas, tomorrow it might be you,” she said in a Facebook post condemning his comments.

By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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