Years, months and weeks of power play and rancour between the Ashanti Regional Minister, Samuel Sarpong on one hand and his deputy, Joseph Yammin, some National Democratic Congress (NDC) gurus on the other, finally came to an end yesterday when President John Dramani Mahama, through his Chief of Staff, issued a statement announcing their dismissals.
Though the decision may have come as a bit surprising to many in the country, considering the fact that it is the first time a minister and his deputy have been dismissed at a go, others who have followed with keen interest, events unfolding between the two major camps within the ruling party, would not be surprised at all.
It suffices to say that the rowdyism in the past few days and the action of the President are results of accumulated problems that had bedeviled the ruling party, but Communicators of the party had been quick in the past to sweep under the carpet.
Chronology of events leading to the sacking of the two ministers dates several years back, when the NDC under the late President Mills, assumed office in 2009.
THE APPOINTMENT OF SARPONG AS MCE
The surprise appointment of Samuel Sarpong, who was then the Regional Head of the now revised Serious Fraud Office (SFO) marked the commencement of the rancour between him and his deputy, Joseph Yammin.
The latter believed he was in pole position to annex one of the most enviable positions in the region as the Metro Chief Executive Officer until a “certain Samuel Sarpong” appeared on the scene, as a stranger to mainstream NDC politics. Samuel Sarpong’s emergence, therefore, meant that the MCE post, which Mr. Yammin had toiled and lobbied for several months, would elude him.
Coming fresh from the SFO, many NDC activists in the region allegedly had their suspicion about the loyalty of Mr. Sarpong though intelligence revealed he was one of the major financiers of the party.
Both Mr. Sarpong and Yammin hardly saw eye to eye during his reign as MCE, as there were several reports of fracas and tension between him and the party regional hierarchy, headed by Mr. Yaw Obimpeh and Joseph Yammin.
As the Regional Secretary, whose unquantifiable contributions ensured a sterling performance of the NDC, which was until then less attractive to voters in the region, Mr. Yammin felt disappointed and actually expressed it by joining forces with the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to attempt what nearly became a “palace coup” within the NDC, after Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings decided to contest late President Mills.
FONKAR emerged, which later metamorphosed into the National Democratic Party (NDP), after the failed attempt to secure the nod for the former First Lady.
Led by Joseph Yammin and his right hand man, Brogya Genfi, the group became a thorn in the flesh of the late President Mills and almost succeeded in ruining the chances of the NDC from retaining power in the 2012 elections.
After several consultations and negotiations, Mr. Yammin, together with his friend and now Regional Youth Organizer, Brogya Genfi, finally agreed to come home and work with the NDC, albeit under suspicious circumstances.
The dismissed Deputy Regional Minister once again proved his mettle and earned the confidence of His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, but once again his much cherished position fell to Hon. Kojo Bonsu, through the instrumentality of some high powered traditional rulers.
However, Yamin’s toil and pain were assuaged when he was appointed the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, whilst Mr. Sarpong was elevated to the position of the Regional Minister, before subsequently being transferred to the Central Region, in an unprecedented reshuffle of Regional Ministers by President Mahama.
Party executives were said to have wined and dined when the news came that Mr. Sarpong had been transferred to Cape Coast, but their excitement was short-lived as the President once again reshuffled him back to his root, only for the enmity and hostilities to reignite.
Mr. Sarpong, upon his return, decided to wage war against the then incumbent regional executives by sponsoring Mr. Thomas K. Braimah, for the regional chairmanship post, a decision which did not go down well with the incumbent, Mr. Yaw Obimpeh.
With his ‘one eye’ on the Deputy Youth and Sports Ministry, Yammin still had the ambition to consolidate his position as a strong force to reckon with in the region, by actually sponsoring his favourite candidates in the persons of Brogya Genfi, Kwame Zu and Samed Akalilu, to win the positions of Youth Organizer, Deputy Secretary and Communication Officer respectively.
Mr. Akalilu, however, fell out of favour with Mr. Yammin, after he (Akalilu) switched camp and decided to work for Samuel Sarpong.
Enter the KMA Boss, Hon. Kojo Bonsu, who also reportedly joined forces with Mr. Joseph Yammin, who had then been reshuffled from the Youth and Sports Ministry to the Ashanti Region, after the controversial air-lift of $3million to Brazil during the 2014 World cup.
Mr. Sarpong’s strict adherence to protocol and reports that he allegedly destroyed the galamsey business of some NDC bigwigs in the region actually made matters worse.
Mr. Yammin, in one of his Facebook posts, hinted his followers that: “He will ensure their removal within the next three months.” Though he was not categorical, information indicated that he was allegedly referring to Mr. Sarpong and DCOP Nathan Kofi Boakye.
Events, however, reached crescendo months ago, when some concerned Foot soldiers issued a statement, publicly rebuking Mr. Yammin and Kojo Bonsu of secretly sabotaging Mr. Sarpong. They actually issued a threat against the two to desist from sabotaging Hon. Sarpong or have themselves to blame.
This was after a meeting, called at the behest of the then Chief of Staff, Mr. Prosper Bani to settle matters between the three, ended with both Yammin and Kojo Bonsu being advised to be careful about their actions.
A day after the Concerned Foot soldiers, a group sponsored by one of the protagonists and masquerading as members of TEIN, the intellectual wing of the party, also issued a counter-statement, condemning Mr. Sarpong and calling for his dismissal.
An intervention by some respected traditional rulers and individuals were said to have calmed nerves, but only a few weeks after a group loyal to Mr. Sarpong, made up of members of the Baa Shaka Movement and Motor Riders Group, picked intelligence of a meeting held by the Regional Executives to plan the removal of Mr. Sarpong.
The group on Monday marched straight to the party’s regional headquarters and locked up the office, chasing away executives who were working at the time. A police team was later dispatched to go and secure the office.
However, on Tuesday, all hell broke loose when the group decided to repeat the dose, only to meet stiffer opposition from another group, loyal to Mr. Yammin and Chairman Obimpeh, culminating in confusion.