Never in recent times has the ancient city of Elmina been thrown into such a state of mourning.
It was such a sombre moment of despair, agony and hopelessness as thousands of indigenes of Elmina marched last Wednesday to protest what they considered as the worst form of humiliation meted out to an indigenous entrepreneur in the country’s history.
The demonstration was not only in solidarity with the President and Chairman of Groupe Nduom, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, but to demonstrate to central government how thousands of people from Elmina and others in towns that constitute the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem (KEEA) traditional area have been reduced to living dead and beggars.
They attributed their plight to the deliberate collapse of companies created by Dr Nduom in the KEEA which have resulted in mass unemployment in the Elmina area.
Some lamented how their children can no longer attend school, break-up in marriages and able-bodied youth migrating to some Ghanaian cities in search of non-existing jobs.
“This is what we did to businessmen like B.A. Mensah, Siaw and other Ghanaian entrepreneurs in the past,” Maame Adadzewa, one of the demonstrators, lamented.
But quickly Egya Duku interjected and reminded Maame Adadzewa that the difference between the two periods was that while the B.A. Mensahs suffered under draconian dictators, Kwesi Nduom was being destroyed by a government that touts itself as champions of private sector growth.
The lowest point of the demonstration was when a middle-aged man broke down in tears to recount how Dr Nduom was adjudged by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) people themselves as the best thing that happened to President Kufuor’s reign as the 2nd President under the 4th Republic Constitution.
“What’s Kwesi’s crime? After succeeding to bring the MCA compact to Ghana, establishing the Single Spine Pay policy, laying the foundation for Ghana’s oil exploration all under the Kufuor administration, is that how Akufo-Addo and his cousins intend paying him back?”
Dr Nduom had for the past two decades been the number one provider of jobs to Edinafo and others in the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem traditional area. Some of his companies in Elmina or Edina include GN Printing, GN Electronic and the FreshPak paper products that constitute the Elmina Industrial Estates.
The others are the Coconut Grove Beach Resort, that is made up of a chain of three hotels, Ahomka FM, the Nduom Sports Stadium, the Nduom School of Business and Technology among others. Some of them said they suspected foul play when the President cancelled his working visit to the Nduom/Elmina Industrial Estates recently.
“We knew it and so we were not shocked when the President refused to visit the Industrial Estate as earlier planned as part of his itinerary visit to the Central Region. How can he visit the Estates when he has deliberately collapsed all Nduom businesses nationwide,” Egya Mpintsin, a top fisherman at Dutch Komenda sobbed.
All of these Groupe Nduom companies which provided jobs for thousands of people in Elmina and adjoining towns are currently on their knees.
The demonstrators described the collapse of these companies as deliberate attempt by the sitting government to wipe out everything Nduom in the area.
This paper gathered from a quick survey and interaction that almost every worker at these companies has been sent home and in the process lost their livelihoods.
This is because the companies cannot even operate 5 per cent of their capacity levels.
In the case of GN Savings, it has been closed down because of the revocation of their license by the Bank of Ghana. The revocation is, however, being contested at the law courts.
Ahomka FM, which has been operating for more than a decade in Elmina, has also been closed down by the National Communications Authority (NCA), under some bizarre circumstances.
The situation is not affecting only Groupe Nduom workers in KEEA but others in places like Cape Coast, Biriwa, Abandze, Mankessim Abakrampa and many towns in the Central Region.
The demonstrators labelled the day of their march as “Black Wednesday” and it was on the theme- ‘Birisi’, a Fante word that describes a sombre mood depicting the painful death of a loved one.
Elminians were joined in the demonstration by others from all four traditional authorities of Komenda, Edina, Eguafo and Abirem.
Other solidarity marchers joined the Elmina demonstration from the Cape Coast Municipality, the Abura Asebu Kwamankese area, the Mfantsiman District and Shama in the Western Region.
Leaders of the demonstration presented their petition to the Municipal Chief Executive of KEEA after the demonstration.
Story: Richmond KEELSON
Full statement of the petition
Petition presented to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, through the Municipal Chief Executive, Nana Appiah Korang, by the Concerned Citizens of Elmina, in the matter of Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, and his businesses On 10th September, 2019.
We, the Concerned Citizens of Elmina have observed with utmost dismay the deliberate plan by the Bank of Ghana to destroy the reputation and businesses of our beloved and illustrious industrialist, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom. Our son, affectionately called Edwumawura by many Ghanaians is under attack from some agents of state to destroy his business empire for political and personal reasons. We wish to bring this serious matter to the attention of the President, through his able Municipal Chief Executive, to intervene as the father of the nation, in this matter of attacking a Ghanaian business man.
- In 1874, the Colonial Administration attacked a respectable and responsible entrepreneur from Elmina. We have not had another industrial icon in this town. The closest we have had is Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom. Regrettably, the same vindictiveness, hatred, backbiting, and destructive tendencies, which the colonial administration metered out to Mpili Mensa is being repeated by our own Self-government to Dr Nduom and his businesses after 150years.
- We, the people have not seen any prominent indigene of the land with such great entrepreneurial skills, talent and gift like Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom. It is for this reason that we believe such people are rare, they are gifts from God and they must be protected and supported. If we kill them deliberately, then we are inviting curses upon ourselves and our land, in respect of unemployment, poverty, armed robbery, diseases, squalor, misery and perpetual under-development.
- Our Elders have a proverb which says that “Any sculptor may be able to work with good wood. But it would take a great sculptor to make something out of crooked and unworkable wood”. We owe it a duty to ensure that this mighty tree in Elmina is protected and preserved.
- Dr. Nduom has brought the people of Elmina and KEEA, a number of companies in the area of manufacturing, industrial printing, electronic assembling, quarry and concrete products, Basic and Tertiary education, Sports and Entertainment, Hotel and Hospitality. He has given thousands of jobs to people, supported many businesses to grow, provided sports and entertainment after hard work. He has brought work and happiness back to Elmina.
- The Bank of Ghana (BoG) took away the license of GN Bank because they claim the bank cannot pay its customers. We know that if the government pays the GHc2.2.billion it owes Dr. Nduom, he would be in a position to pay all his customers. The sea defence project in Axim (Lower Dixcove), which was commissioned by the President early this year, is among the many projects GN has funded and executed which is yet to be paid. If government owes Nduom all these monies, why do some government officials turn around and say he can’t pay his customers?
- We are aware government, through the Ministry of Finance has supported five local Banks of which three are private Banks. They were supported with tax payers money to enable them meet the new GHC400 recapitalisation requirement. We pray with the government to extend the same kind of support to GN.
Denying GN of such support to save the Bank, and more surprisingly, monies owed by government to GN being denied him under the pretext of validating the debt for the past three years is very disappointing.
- The Minister of Finance has refused to pay monies that the government of Ghana owes Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom to the tune of Ghc2.2billion. The government has not denied this fact but they say they are looking into the claim by Groupe Nduom. Now, if the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta has not finished looking into the debt claim by GN, why should Dr. Nduom pay for the inefficiencies of the Finance Minister? We believe this validation process is a deliberate act on the part of the Honourable Finance Minister to deny Dr. Nduom the cash needed to maintain his business and the bank. We implore on the government to expedite action on this much talked about validation exercise to enable GN meet its obligations.
- Many people are likely to base their decisions in respect of the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections on the outcome of this issue. We believe the government could have resolved this matter in another way. Closing down Nduom’s business empire for whatever reasons, is not the most effective application of political power and that decision is definitely not in the interest of the people of Ghana.
- We pray and appeal to His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo who has promised to create jobs for Ghanaians to look into this matter and fast-track the validation of the Ghc2.2billion debt, so that the Honourable Finance Minister will be ordered to pay Dr. Nduom all his money and give the banking license back to him. About 4,000 direct employees of GN Bank are going to lose their jobs and suffer hardships with their families and children.
- We believe that the President will cause a review of the decisions of his appointees who have decided to kill the businesses of Edwumawura to settle personal scores.
- We recognise the One District One Factory Policy of the government; we suggest that, industrialist such as Dr. Nduom, should be seen as partners in the creation of industries across Ghana. Local business owners create opportunities and they need to be supported!
- John Quayson – 0244839050
- Father Frank Mensah – 0244675034
- Philip Luud – 0244021238
- Alfred Fiehyle – 0244374727
- Stephen Quayson – +44 794662961
- Joseph Naasei Awortwe – 0244871412