23 February 2017

Ghana’s ‘Buhari’ takes over Upper East


The old-timer politician widely hailed as “Buhari” for his no-nonsense charisma, Rockson Ayine Bukari, has taken over the reins of power as the Upper East Regional Minister following the approval of the Parliamentary Vetting Committee.

Wednesday’s arrival in the region of the strict but good-humoured disciplinarian, whose name is only a ‘k’ in the middle different from that of Nigeria’s Buhari, shook the regional capital- a stronghold of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) – to the core with a strong reception by countless supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).


A crowd of stakeholders dominated by party supporters listened to the Regional Minister at the residency | Photo: Edward Adeti

Firecrackers, let off by a man in an NPP-branded shirt who pointed a pipe of explosives to the sky for several minutes as security officers watched with cautionary eyes, tore the air apart amid a slow-moving traffic jammed by a motorcade of party supporters several kilometres long on the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway. It was the first time in the region a newly appointed regional minister had been received with fireworks.

Rockson Bukari, a towering figure with a trademark sickle-shaped cotton-white beard and devoted to composing his own local songs and singing them in ‘a cappella’ form at public events to drum his message home, is even more distinguished for the rare prize Bolgatanga, the regional capital, won as the neatest capital in Ghana at the time he was in charge as the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) between 2001 and 2005. His senior match, Buhari, had done a similar thing about three decades ago – launching War against Indiscipline (WAI) to keep Nigeria environmentally clean. And as Buhari is yet to be linked to any act of corruption throughout his political career, so is Bukari yet to be fingered for any financial malfeasance relating to the public offices he has held so far.

Addressing a crowd of stakeholders at the residency shortly after he had landed in the region Wednesday outfitted in a white robe and a white cap, the plain-speaking politician declared war against lateness. From a waste-management MCE, a veteran many had thought was going to be handed an ambassadorial appointment at age 69 has made the transition to a time-management Regional Minister.

“Discipline must permeate all sectors of our national life and define a suitable code of conduct for us all as a people of Upper East Region. We will not, therefore, hesitate to strictly demand loyalty and positive work attitude from all people of the region, especially public office holders. All public office holders must change their attitude to work. Punctuality should be the order of the day,” the new Regional Minister stressed.

Wagging his forefinger strongly at the cheering crowd, he affirmed: “Time is money! Time is money! On this score, let me inform all about the personal pledge I’ve made to myself. And that is time management. No waste of time. I will make it a point to attend all programmes in time to show leadership by example. I, therefore, demand that all officers will take a cue from me. A new dawn has indeed arrived in Ghana today!”

Interesting times ahead

Rockson Bukari’s punctuality policy brings to public mind Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, former Upper East Regional Minister whose emphasis was also on time management in the Mahama Administration.

Limuna once walked out on an awards ceremony at Paga because the teachers in whose honour the occasion was being held had not arrived at the venue at the time the event should have started. At Bawku, he became furious with the organisers of a school’s anniversary celebration for wasting more time in acknowledging invited guests who came to the function late. And in Tamale, he reportedly locked out some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives who failed to arrive on time for an event he was scheduled to address as the Northern Regional Minister at the time.

With the new Regional Minister, who may even apply stricter rules than did any of those who had occupied the region’s highest office before him, the region can expect nothing else but a raw war not only against feet dragging to public functions or offices but also against substandard execution of projects funded by the state. Unlike China where it is reported that meetings do begin with tea, gatherings in the Upper East Region, a typical African community drawn back by disregard for punctuality among other factors, mostly begin with apologies for late start. And in what could be an “adapt or abscond” new regional regime, those who cannot adjust and jostle to avoid sanctions for lateness to work or programmes may have to seek transfer, and abscond, before the new boss brings down the axe.

“If you want to compare the road network in our region to other regions, even Upper West- the region that was carved from Upper East- you’ll realise that we are way behind. At least, even if not the outskirts, the major roads, the town roads, should be tarred. We should even be getting asphalted roads so that it will last generations, so that we’ll not have the issue of contractors coming to that same stretch of roads year in year out.

“And my advice is that it should be given to good contractors and not party people. The fact that someone has a wheelbarrow does not make that person a contractor,” Daniel Animah, Assemblyman for Zua in the Nabdam District, told Starr News shortly after the Regional Minister had pledged to help boost agriculture and to facilitate the construction of more roads in the region.



Regional Chair of NPP, Murtala Mohammed Ibrahim, joins the Regional Minister | Photo: Edward Adeti

Another difficult decision to come off every Friday

The new Regional Minister is strictly also not going to welcome the transaction of party business at the Regional Coordinating Council- the seat of government in the region.

He concluded his address by announcing his resolution to devote the first four working days of every week to “government business” at the Regional Coordinating Council and to make himself available at the party’s regional office every Friday to pay attention to issues bothering members of the elephant family. The decision, some murmured in the crowd, might not go down well especially with some party supporters who had become so used to the ‘pleasure and pride’ of flaunting incumbency along the corridors of power that cutting them off the cord to the RCC after 8 years of struggling to recapture power is much like weaning a baby too early from breastfeeding. A deafening outcry is most likely.

“As he works, the pressure will be there for him to realise that he cannot use only Fridays to meet their demands. He would have to adjust. Don’t take it literally that he is not going to attend to party supporters on other days. He will,” the party’s Upper East Regional Secretary, Cletus Ayambire, assured in an interview with Starr News.

Before the new Regional Minister spoke to the crowd, a moment of silence was observed for Adams Mahama, the party’s philanthropic Upper East Regional Chairman who was slain in a midnight acid attack in Bolgatanga in May, 2015. The current regional chair, Murtala Mohammed Ibrahim, entreated everyone to accord the Regional Minister the support needed to move the region from deprived to developed.




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