Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, has told Citi News the immediate past Deputy Agric Minister, William Quaitoo, resigned on his own volition.
The Akim Oda MP tendered in his resignation on Thursday, following pressure from the Minority, and some civil society groups for making ethnocentric comments, which was triggered during a conversation on how government has dealt with the fall army worm invasion in the three regions of the North.
“I am sure if the President was happy about it [comments], he would not have received the resignation of former Deputy Minister for Agriculture. Many Ghanaians deemed his comments to be extremely unfortunate and unwarranted so in light of that, when there was pressure on him to resign he had to accept it.”
Asked why government failed to sanction Mr. Quaitoo just after he made those comments, Mr. Arhin explained that, the President was engaged in other activities in some regions hence could not take an immediate decision.
“The comment happened somewhere on Friday and when that happened, he [President] had to travel to Ekumfi to go and launch the One District, One Factory programme and most of the weekend, there was this NPP delegates conference so yesterday [Tuesday], was virtually the second working day of the week for people to take stock and definitely before you take such a decision, you need to assess so many factors before such a decision will be taken and whatever be the case…”
Mr. Quaitoo, who is also the Member of Parliament for Akim Oda, had come under fire for saying in an interview on Accra-based Starr FM, that northern farmers could not be trusted in their assessment of the damage from the army worm invasion.
He stated that calls on government to pay compensation for farmers who lost their crops in the three regions of the north, 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 apologized 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 saw himself as a Dagomba, having lived in the Northern Region for 27 years, and assured that he would not “consciously spite them.”
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 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.