By Mahama Haruna
First of all I wish to congratulate current Deputy Chief of Staff and Member of Parliament (MP) elect for the Damongo Constituency of the Savannah Region Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor for his victory against the candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a party whose leader John Dramani Mahama I’ve been working for since 2010. My congratulations add to the many including that of Hon Adam Mutawakilu Garlus who is the outgoing MP for the Constituency.
As Hon Adam Mutawakilu Garlus said; “It was a though contest, but in the end the people of Damongo have made a choice which we must all respect as a people”.
Clearly Abu Jinapor winning the seat of the birthplace of the flagbearer of the NDC John Dramani Mahama is no mean achievement. It is historical!
Now let me start this write up by tracing my relationship with the family of Buipewura Jinapor (II) and how my closeness to the family began.
The father of the current Paramount Chief of the Buipe Traditional area of Gonja, is called Buipewura Chilinpulma. The mother of Buipewura Chilpulma is from Kabilma in the Bole District and my fathers mother happen to come from the same house as Buipewura Chilpulma.
In 2003 I gained admission into the Ghana Institute of Journalism to do a B.A. Degree in Communication Studies with specialisation in Journalism After serving as NPP Secretary for the Bole- Bamboi constituency from 2001 to 2003. After staying at the University of Ghana (Commonwealth Hall) as a ‘percher’ for a while I moved to stay with a Policeman and childhood friend at the Airport Police Barracks called Adams Ibraihim (Paddy Hayes) because I had also been engaged at the Statesman newspaper (firstly on attachment and later as full Reporter) directly working under Mr Gabby Asare Otchere Darko who was the editor.
Buipewura Jinapor (II) was the station officer of the Airport Police station and so oblivious of our relationship I visited him at his residence one day and on mentioning my father’s name he traced the family lineage and said my father is the Uncle. I felt comfortable with Buipewura Jinapor as a brother by the Kabilma family relation and even felt free to eat at his residence.
I became close to Buipewura (then Silmawura of Buipe Traditional area) such that I managed his media affairs for a while in 2004 and used to accompany him to a Tamale High court when there was a controversy concerning his ascension to the Buipe skin of Gonja (Buipewura)
Serving Buipewura also made me become close to his two sons John Abudulai Jinapor (now MP for Yapei-Kusawgu) and Samuel Abu Jinapor (now MP elect for Damongo). I realised the Damongo Constituency MP elect Samuel Abu Jinapor was the favourite son of Buipewura Jinapor (II) because he was his “grandfather” which is normal in Gonja custom. Buipewura Jinapor (II) named Samuel Abu Jinapor after his grandfather Buipewura Jinapor (I).
I was careful discussing politics with the two sons of Buipewura because their political affiliation was not clear to me. While John Jinapor was inclined towards the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Abu Jinapor who I was more closer to was a sympathiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) but somewhere along the line in 2004 Abu Jinapor became NPP and John Abudulai Jinapor on the hand in 2005 became an NDC member but they were very objective during discussions on political issues. I believe the swapping of political parties of these brothers was not pre- planned but has withstood the test of time.
The truth is until 2004, Samuel Abu Jinapor was a leading member of NDC TEIN at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), speaking and defending NDC in most radio stations in Kumasi until he was picked up by an NPP leading member and Minister then Mr Richard Anane to handle his media engagement when the issue of his twins with a foreign lady took centre stage in Ghana’s political landscape.
Abu carved a niche for himself after fighting so hard but Dr. Richard Anane resigned after an investigation by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), found that Anane used government funds to pay his mistress an amount of one hundred thousand dollars.
It is also worth mentioning that Mr Stephen Amoah who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) and also MP- elect for Nhyiaeso in the Ashanti Region, who was the leader of the NPP TESCON at the KNUST reportedly enticed Abu Jinapor to move from the NDC and join the NPP using then minister of Roads and Transport in the JA Kufuor government, Dr. Richard Anane who was known to be very generous and doling out money to prominent student leaders at the time.
The above narration is important because even wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia got the story mixed up in its political profile of Mr Abu Jinapor by saying;
“Jinapor became active in politics at an early age. His elder brother, John Jinapor a former deputy Minister for Energy and Petroleum and a stalwart in the National Democratic Congress (NDC), had encouraged him to pursue politics by joining the NDC. Whiles at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Haruna Mahama, a member of the youth wing of the NPP, introduced Samuel to Nana Akufo-Addo. It was from this time that his allegiance changed from the NDC to the NPP. He became a member of the Tertiary Education Network, the university wing of the NPP and begun actively campaigning for the party. During this period he got acquainted with Richard W. Anane who is reported to have been his sponsor. He has been elected the Member of Parliament for Damongo Constituency in 2020 elections”.
It is a fact that I introduced Abu Jinapor to Mr Gabby Asare Otchere Darko who is an NPP leading member and a coursin to outgoing President Nana Akufo-Addo by which time Abu Jinapor was already an NPP member.
How did it happen?
By 2005 I was one of the popular reporters for the statesman newspaper which was owned by Nana Akufo Addo. In January 2005 when speculations were rife as to who succeeds J.A. Kufour as NPP flag bearer, I wrote a feature entitled “Who leads the NPP in 2008? An open letter to the leadership of the party” on which I made a case for the NPP to choose a winnable and suitable candidate; someone with proven organisational skills and exceptional dynamism; someone who must have a towering political pedigree and unmatched international exposure and someone who will easily be accepted by the rank and file of the party. This feature was published by as many as nine newspapers in Ghana and was a subject of Radio discussion and public debate.
A day after the feature, Abu Jinapor visited me at the quarters of of my policeman friend at the Airport Police barracks holding the Insight newspaper which gave a front page story to my feature. He commented me for the write up and expressed interest in working for Nana Akufo Addo to be flagbearer of the NPP. I was happy and straight away told him I was going to work and so he should prepare and we go and meet Mr Gabby Asare Otchere Darko who was not only my editor but a strategist for the political aspirations of Nana Akufo Addo.
We did meet Gabby Asare Otchere Darko at his statesman newspaper office at the Airport residential area in Accra.
These were the days of the so called J.A. Kufour and Nana Akufo-Addo factionalism in NPP and so it was difficult for Nana Akufo-Addo’s confidants to easily trust people because they did not want to be seen publicly working for Nana Akufo-Addo which could be misconstrued as working against President JA Kufour. Gabby later told me Abu Jinapor who was speaking for Richard Anane was viewed with suspicion because Richard Anane was a bitter ‘opponent’ of Nana Akufo-Addo. Indeed I had to vouch for Abu Jinapor to Gabby Asare Otchere Darko as a principled, intelligent and hardworking young man.
Indeed Gabby told me if Abu Jinapor play any games I would be held responsible and I accepted it. Gabby trusted me and so made me lead Abu Jinapor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office of Nana Akufo-Addo at Tema station in Accra. Abu Jinapor was so eloquent and convincing during his conversation with Nana Akufo-Addo such that he was accepted straight away and the rest once again is history.
I became close to Abu Jinapor and we were good brothers who moved together everywhere in Accra. Pattly because of me, we became regular members of the meetings of the Greater Accra branch of the Gonjaland Youth Association between 2005 and 2006 (see photo).
My relationship with Abu Jinapor was soured after an issue I do not always relish recollecting. What happened?
In November 2010, I rendered an apology to John Dramani Mahama following a careful reflection over comments I made at a Press Conference organised by a group I led, “The Alliance for Responsible Office Holders”- (AFROH). I said he used his office in overturning a ban placed on a British cocoa trading firm, Armajaro Ltd operating in Ghana and threatened to drag him to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
I later realised we were wrong and had no basis for the action we intended to take and therefore rendered an unequivocal apology to the then Vice-President.
The news of my apology broke the very day the NPP held a workshop for its National Executive and other functionaries at Kumasi that ended on Monday 22nd November 2010. I was one of the few workers at the NPP Headquarters that remained in Accra to take charge of the office of the National Chairman whom I was assisting.
Samuel Abu Jinapor, I was told, sent a text message to Gabby Asare Otchere- Darko, who was attending the meeting that, his intelligence indicates I had met the then Vice-President John Mahama and thinks I was induced financially. Indeed Abu’s text message who which was forwarded to me by Gabby Asare Otchere Darko was a fabrication and not backed by any evidence. He could not provide any proof when I called him on phone but I remember he told me he did send text message to Gabby to “protect the NPP and Nana Akufo-Addo”.
Abu Jinapor’s text messages led to all sorts of speculations by some people in the party that I may have been induced financially. I wish to state emphatically that, I had never met the Vice President at the time I rendered the apology and I never took any money from him. I did apologise as a matter of principle.
I was surprise Abu presented the issue as if he had gathered intelligence on me because he called me on phone two times on the day my apology was made public, trying to coerce me to agree I had met John Mahama. I debunked those speculations.
The last straw that broke the camels back was when I stormed an NPP Youth meeting at Tamale in 2010 ostentatiously to take on Abu Jinapor for his “lies” on me. Gabby Asare Otchere Darko who was at the meeting was informed about my intention and so he confronted me and told me boldly that even though I have worked with him for many years he will choose Abu Jinapor over me because everyone believe I was compromised by John Dramani Mahama.
All this while my boss Jake Obetsebi- Lamptey was quite and never commented on the issue so I felt I had lost trust from those I worked my heart out for and so this made to take a decision. I went back to Accra and packed my bags and documents from the NPP National Headquarters and left for home abandoning my position as a Special Assistant to the then National Chairman Jake Obetsebi- Lamptey.
It is noteworthy that I should have realised Abu Jinapor had become closer to Gabby Asare Otchere than me and had taken over my place as Gabby’s darling boy from Gonja. This was in later years manifested when Gabby defended Abu Jinapor over his appointment as the Deputy Chief of Staff notwithstanding protests from some party members. Indeed Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko hit back at Abu Jinapor’s critics for challenging his appointment as Deputy Chief of Staff.
Even before Abu Jinapor’s appointment some vociferous NPP activists used social media to state their case and warned that Nana Addo would be sending wrongs signals with regards to party loyalty and commitment if Jinapor was appointed Deputy Chief Staff but Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko on his Twitter handle defended him saying; “Abu Jinapor is a trusted aide to the President-elect and has been so since 2007. He never left. He is competent, loyal and an example of the many young Ghanaians who have proven themselves and still have a lot of promise to deliver if offered the opportunity.” That ended the issue.
My frostiness with Abu Jinapor remained even though he made moves to get me back to work for NPP and to let us be good friends. One positive thing I realised about Abu Jinapor was that he believed he had no problem with me and will always greet me warmly anytime we meet. In fact we have always greeted each other with the word “pedigree”, a term the Jinapor brothers used for me when we were close beginning 2004.
When Abu expressed interest to to contest as MP for Damongo on the ticket of NPP, I decided to fight him using social media and my Radio station (Nkilgi Fm at Bole) but due to a combination of factors I stopped attacking him somehwere along the line and rather projected his opponent and defeated MP for Damongo Hon Adam Mutawakilu Garlus.
“Who God blesses no one curse” so says the good book.
Today Samuel Abu Jinapor is not only an elected member of Parliament but a politician who from all indications has the potential to rise to become a Vice- President and even President of the Republic of Ghana.
Why should I continue to harbor ill feelings about the past? I will definitely support Abu Jinapor should he rise to any of the bigger political positions I mentioned because my name will be written in gold since I’m the person who introduced him to his political god father Gabby Asare Otchere Darko and was the one who subsequently led him into the office of then Minister of Foreign Affairs Nana Akufo-Addo for the first time and the rest is history.
14th December, 2020.