A Tribute By: Haruna Maiga.
(Inna Lillahi Wa’inna Illaihi Raj’un)
In 1998, after the NPP Congress in Sunyani which saw Mr. J.A. Kufuor re-elected as the party’s Presidential Candidate for the 2000 Elections, a group of young energetic people came together with the objective of helping to change the fortunes of the NPP in Ghana’s democratic experiment after loosing the general elections in 1992 and 1996.
At that time, the NPP had no Youth and Women’s wings. So there were no youth and women organizers of the party across the country as we have today. Those young people saw the need to create a special purpose vehicle to help achieve the party’s agenda to wrestle power from the ruling NDC led by the democratic dictator, J. J. Rawlings and Atta-Mills whom he later endorsed as NDC flagbearer for Election 2000 at what became popularly known as the “Swedru Declaration.”
The group which usually met at the Old NPP Headquarters at Kokomlemle in Accra included people like Agyemang Manu (Currently the Minister for Heath), Lawyer Abeku Dickson (Former Executive Director of the National Service Scheme during the Kufuor Administration) the Late Ferdinand Ayim (Former Special Assistant to Hon. Jake Obestebi Lamptey), Lawyer O. B. Amoah, (Currently the Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development), Appiah Kubi (Currently the Deputy Minister for Railways Ministry), Lord Commey (Currently the Director of Operations at the Office of the President), Nana Agyemang-Prempeh (Currently the Director of NADMO), Issac Asiamah (Currently the Minister for Sports) and Pius Hadzide (Currently the Deputy Minister for Information). Others are John Boadu (Currently the General Secretary of the NPP), Francis Botwe (Currently at the NPP Headquarters, Asylum Down), Daniel Dadzi (Curretly the Presiding Member of the AMA), James Afaglo (Former Greater Accra Regional Organizer) and Nana Sarkodie (Currently a Director at Zoomlion). The group also included Lawyer Alex Quartey of Dansoman, Vincent (Former Aide to Hon. Konadu Apraku), Akosua of Ofankor, Asamoah Guamfi of Abeka-Lapaz, and Ibrahim Wumbi of Nima amongst others.
It was during the weekly Wednesday evening meetings of the group at Kokomlemle, where I first met Baba ALHASSAN.
He had an accent that made his Twi and English sound quite funny. So whenever he got the chance to contribute to matters on the floor, he had everyone’s attention. He also had a great sense of humor and gifted in using his “home sense” or “common sense” in dissecting the most complex of issues to the admiration of all. He was very friendly, fearless and had great self confidence which brought him shoulder to shoulder with some members of the group who were then aspiring to become parliamentary candidates or perhaps occupy high offices should the the party ever win to form a government. And for some fortunate members of the group, those dreams came to pass a few years later during the Kufuor Administration.
In the run up to the 2000 General Elections, the media landscape of the country, was fast developing with private radio stations proving to be the battle ground for political campaigns and elections.
In Accra, stations like Joy FM, Radio Gold, Groove FM, Sunshine Radio (Choice FM) and later Peace FM, were beginning to complete with the State Broadcaster, Radio GRA, which was clearly under the control of the ruling NDC Government.
The open bias, unfair and unbalanced reportage meted out particular against the NPP, by the state broadcaster, including GTV, occasioned the landmark law suit at the Supreme Court in 1998-99.
The NPP led by Lawyer Nana Akufo-Addo, won that famous case known as the NPP vrs GBC which resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that all political parties should be given equal opportunities and fair coverage in the e event of a general elections. This led to the lunching of a new political broadcasting guidelines which was to ensure that equal airtime and news coverage was allotted to all political parties during an election season.
But long before that ruling, the NPP was strategically devising it’s own ways of communicating its policies to the electorates. Therefore, a formidable group of self motivated, passionate and vociferous youth were already out there fighting tooth and nail and calling into morning shows and political programs of some private radio stations.
Amongst the few gallant soldiers who started the NPP radio callers group in the early days, was the late ALHASSAN of ASHAIMAN, as he was popular known till his sudden demise, yesterday on 24th of April, 2020. Those were the days that mobile phones were not common placed. So “Serial Callers”, as they were known, laboriously used landlines to get through phone-in sections of radio stations.
The ruling NDC was believed to have responded to this phenomenon by setting up sophisticated call centers at the Ministry of Information, under the supervision of Hon. Owureko Amofa and Hon. John Mahama respectively, as Deputy Ministers of Information to give the opposition serial callers a run for their money.
This was where ALHASSAN found his divine calling in what later became known as “Party Communicators”. He had a unique way of leaving a lasting impression on the minds of presenters and listeners with his signature phrase; “Onyuomanfuo” meaning, “Honourable” in Twi.
Whenever he gets through, Alhassan seems to be charged and filled with rage to speak in defense of the party. I observed that he hardly gets to finish making his point before his call is dropped for the next caller. So I once asked him about why they always cut off before he could finish making his point? He looked at me and replied, “My brother Maiga, you know I always have so much to say”, and we both bust into laughter. Indeed that could explain the level of passion he felt for what he was doing for the party.
There’s no doubt that the efforts of ALHASSAN and his contemporaries like John Boadu of “Ablekuma South” and others, went a great length in contributing to that historic victory of the NPP in the 2000 general elections and beyond.
His pleasant, affable and hardworking mannerisms won him great admiration across the party’s rank and file over the years. Those and other personal qualities eventually, paved the way for him to be elected overwhelmingly elected as the Constituency Youth Organizer in the Ashiaman Constituency.
He also developed good personal relations with leading personalities like President J. A. Kufuor, the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the late Jake Obestebi Lamptey, the late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, Hon. Dan Botwe among others, who naturally took to keen interest n his work.
He was equally known and liked by some of the top Ghanaian media personalities, some of whom kept close relations with him off air.
From a very humble background, Alhaji Alhassan, managed to cut a respectable niche for himself within the NPP as a party, the Ghanaian media landscape and in the process contributed his quota towards Ghana’s Democratic development.
He was a grassroots man who achieved greatness in his own right through hardwork, dedication and sacrifice for the party he loved and labored for. Although he gave his whole life to the party until his last breath, he was not fortunate enough to occupy a high office in government. But he succeeded in inscribing his name amongst those of the greatest who also gave their all in service to the NPP and Ghana.
In his own right, Alhassan has earned his place in the party’s historical records alongside great torchbearers including Hon. J. H. Mensah, Hon. Hawa Yakubu, Hon. Gladys Asmah, Hon. John Achuliwor, Hon. Sammy Crabb, Hon. Grace Coleman, Ambassador Sahanunu Mogtari, Alhaji C.O.P, amongst many others.
Above all else, Alhaji Baba Alhassan, was one of the greatest footsoldiers the NPP of all times.
Fare thee well, fallen comrade, friend and brother, Alhaji Baba Alhassan. You’re gone but never to be forgotten.
May Allah be pleased with your gentle soul till we meet again.
Ameen Thuma Ameen.
By Haruna Maiga