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Opinions of Friday, 25 January 2019

Columnist: Nyasapoh Mark Amoah

Key issues for development in the newly created Oti Region

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The people of Oti region are grateful to the government of the day and the traditional rulers of the territory for making the long-awaited dream come true. To all citizens of Oti-region, God bless you for the collective support and movement.

It is with much interest that I provide few key issues that all citizens of Oti must embrace peacefully for the needed development.

The history of the Oti-enclave has been resounded by Nana’nom at all times and angles. Most of us did not even have to read about the history before we know how far the people of Oti have come.

This I think was laudable. That notwithstanding, I believe the right time is now for citizens to begin embracing certain facts that will inure to the anticipated development in the region.

It is well known that when institutions work perfectly, devoid of corrupt activities, development is likely to be at the door-steps of a people. In this regard, some help in the form of aid from the government and especially non-governmental institutions and philanthropies will be necessary for the development of the region.

However, aid in itself may be good or bad depending on the perfection of the handlers and institutions that manage it. The government is key to building the required institutions and make it possible for investments at all levels by creating the conducive environment.

The role of government in developing Otu Region

It is necessary and shared responsibility of the government to provide the enabling environment and the needed institutions for the progress of Oti-region.

The region already lacks a lot of basic amenities that include potable water, access to electricity, health care, educational facilities and road network.

The Oti-region largely needs to be opened up, by linking it to the surrounding regions with better transportation infrastructure including bridges across the length and breadth, and the construction of landing sites.

All other institutions including better and quality education to educate and build human capital, security and judicial services are needed to ensure a favourable environment for development. These are among key developmental issues that need immediate government attention.

It is, however, important to note that, the governmental institutions need the space to work professionally, including the adoption of maintenance culture. Despite the brighter future and greater prospects the region holds for its citizens, the people must be sensitive to the act of togetherness for common development.

Equality among ethnic groups for the purpose of common good

If the people of Oti-enclave fought with a common goal, I, therefore, do not think anyone was superior in fighting than the other when it comes to how far we have come as a people.

This aimed at development that would include infrastructure, jobs creation, a sense of ownership and self-actualisation. The above demand is well justified and through a referendum was worn massively.

Therefore, I would plead that no one under this circumference should be seen as a slave master and vice-versa if we dare need the development and togetherness we so fought for. Write-ups are already circulating about the proposed regional capital for Oti-region.

Stories are rife about the new region that serves as the venom of the most poisonous snake ready to inflict serious damage on itself. Effort should be made to avoid this potential self-inflicting damage as soon as possible since most of those stories are only made to make the citizens suffer like never before. They will serve as sparks to ignite and inflame fire among the municipalities and districts, traditional leaders and individuals.

However, those stories that need attention should critically be analysed for development. No generation will ever forgive the current traditional leaders if they fail to give a regional capital that is central and accessible to all parties of the enclave.

Traditional and political leaders should selflessly give Oti-region a fitting capital devoid of any selfish interest that will ensure easy and equitable distribution of resources for development.

“Nana’nom”, our political leaders and the youth, the bigger fight has just begun, even though most of us don’t see it. The development and jobs creation, how best can they be achieved?

I strongly believe that very few jobs will be offered directly by the government of Ghana to the people of Oti and any other new region that has been created recently.

Hence the citizens, the youth especially should selflessly engage themselves to identify the greater opportunities in the region and invest in them, once government creates the enabling environment.

Taking stock of resources and opportunities in creating own jobs

The World Bank in its May 2018 China Daily, indicated that job creation has become an immense global challenge, leading to more than 200 million people unemployed worldwide, many of them young people. Consequently, Job creation will be the key factor for developing countries to reduce poverty.

Therefore, creating more and better jobs requires an economic transformation that will move workers from lower to higher productivity. A shift that will need to be led by the private sector, the main engine of job growth.

The World Bank again indicated that Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need 11 million new jobs a year through 2030. Narrowing down to Ghana, the Statistics Portal, estimated the country’s youth unemployment rate in 2017 at 4.9%.

In my view, most of the jobs that would be created by the government for the region do exist already, comprising the municipal and district assembly jobs. Even though there would be jobs that will come with the new regional capital and its accomplices. However, how many could this government jobs be?

Despite the existence of a number of challenges, the people of Oti-enclave need to look at what can be worked to create jobs by focusing on sectors that have the greatest potentials for investment.

The Oti region is endowed with a number of key commercial activities that when properly harnessed could uplift the economic fortunes of the region.

The Ghana Districts Reports, a resource base for all local assemblies in Ghana indicated that the strategic location of the districts that make up the Oti-region makes it a potential avenue for wealth creation through greater internal trade and positive socio-cultural exchanges between the districts and their neighbouring regions.

The Oti-region is seen as one of the leading producers of yam in the country. The cocoa-based sector in that part of the country is also in the Oti-region.

In addition, the region has some rivers and streams, the major ones include the Volta and Oti rivers which are mostly used for fishing and can potentially serve as tourist attractions.

There are also surrounding land drainage systems that favour the development of fish farming, cultivation of valley bottom rice, sugarcane and dry season vegetables.

Most of these would require the development of irrigation systems along the rivers to increase cultivation of food crops and open up employment avenues for the youth.

First, my key advice to my people of Oti-region will be to take stock of the enclave’s resources I have mentioned above and let it serve as a balance brought forward and then re-reimburse with the current opportunities at the earliest possible time. It is the early bird that catches the worm. I think it is important to portray why the need for an all-inclusive action for development.

Please, permit me to use one of our own Districts, KrachiNchumuru, youngest I may say, as a typical example for citizens of Oti-region to take a cue from. Findings by The Ghana Districts Reports indicates that the Nchumuru District, among its endowment of rich resources, is also strategically placed in the transitional zone, the closeness to the Brong-Ahafo and Northern Regions makes it a potential avenue for wealth creation, with water coverage of about 15%.

The current state of job creation and development are definitely not encouraging for the Nchumuru District, despite some achievements being chalked.

The district’s achievements from 2012 to date can hardly benchmark with the 254 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) that were created in the same year.

I’m sure the accusing fingers will mostly point to the politician. I’m not saying our political leaders don’t fail us. However, leadership and the citizens of the district are all to blame in one pot if the district was a pot of palm-nut soup.

I believe most of the citizens were and are still waiting for the government so-called jobs to come to them as employees.

Citizens of Oti-region, please do not sit and wait for the jobs to come to you. Do not also wait till Oti-region is fully in operation before you begin to search for the potentials to gain a job. The time is now! Look out for the opportunities and make them jobs for yourselves, right from now. The development lies in our own hands, whilst the government of the day supports by creating the supportive environment.

Sense of ownership, self-actualisation and sensitisation

The greatest feeling is “we the people of Oti now own our region”, even though it's not a physical object. Many are those who think that this is the time for enjoyment. I would like to draw the attention of Oti people that this is the budding stage.

Hence, the time for very painful, most critical and strategic decision making for development. Lots of disappointments and regrets may set in if citizens don’t leave up to the billing or expectations of the new region.

I will, therefore, urge each and every one of us to be part in lifting and building together for common development. The responsibilities of Chiefs and Opinion leaders, Minister and Deputy, MDCE’s, MP’s and Assembly members is very key to the developmental agenda. The ordinary citizens cannot lift it without the leaders and vice-versa. Our leaders, please serve your own citizens selflessly.

Once we have a sense of ownership, I pray and urge us to be motivated and stay focused and be encouraged that we have the potentials and possibilities to develop the region, just like many of us develop ourselves. Let us be all involved and highly motivated.

Like Maslow puts it in his hierarchy of needs; we as citizens have every right to come to the realization of our creativity, intellectual and socioeconomic potential and desire, and use all these abilities to achieve everything that possibly can make we and the region develop. I believe this is one of the best motivation I can leave with citizens of Oti-enclave.

The creation of Oti-region in itself is not a solution to totally eradicate poverty neither will it ensure equal development. It will, therefore, require effective planning and the implementation of key development plans that will see to the integration of agriculture, infrastructure, and industry development.

This will require stringent measures by the government to address the challenges being faced, else the people would be worse off. That is why it is time for the youth especially to be sensitised to realise the role of government as against the former to create own jobs because they now own a region.

These are key challenges that must be addressed at both ends to allow for the exploitation of the opportunities identified decades ago.

In line with the above discussions made, I would humbly plead with our overlords, Nana’nom, to continue to be strong in fighting for development and also foster peace among us in the Oti-enclave and beyond. This will uplift the spirit of the youth and continue to give a sense of ownership of our homeland, Oti-region.

In conclusion, it is not about what we know already as citizens but rather our constant remembrance of the key responsibilities for development. It is, therefore, my greatest hope this piece of knowledge and all others in the interest of Oti-region will be considered critically by all for development.
I wish all a happy new year as the merrymaking continues.

God bless Oti-region and God bless Ghana.

Thank you.