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Opinions of Thursday, 21 December 2017

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Mahama was obviously sleeping at the wheel

John Mahama John Mahama

Before I delve deeply and fully into the subject of this column, which is road infrastructure development, I would like to take this prime opportunity to remind President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the imperative need for him to ensure that the Potroasi-Nsutam section of the Accra-Kumasi Highway is reconstructed in order to prevent major historic towns like Kyebi, his own hometown, and Asiakwa, my own, from becoming ghost towns. From what I have learned from quite a number of relatives who visited the area recently, car-jacking by armed robbers appear to have effectively taken over this section of the Kumasi-Accra Highway that used to be a first-class road by international standards, primarily due to official neglect.

That was during the short-lived era of the Progress Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia, when Nana Akufo-Addo’s own father was Ghana’s Ceremonial President. What we obviously need over the Potroasi Ravine is a suspension and double-leveled bridge. I also hope that this government is seriously considering the construction of all major new roads in the country with concrete, for cost-effective durability. I highlight the towns of Kyebi and Asiakwa because these two major towns have played a significant historic role in the development of the Great Akan States of Asante, Adansi/Adanse and Denkyira, among a host of others. And, in fact, reading the article captioned “Road Infrastructure: Was I Sleeping or Mahama Misled Ghanaians? Akufo-Addo Asks” / 10/3/17), I could not help but recognize the fact that historically Kyebi was the nodal resettlement center for migrants and immigrants of Asante-Kokofu and Adanse descent.

And for those of our readers who may not know this, Asante-Kokofu is the original home of the Asantehemaa, which also means that it is the birthplace of the legendary Asante Empire, as we presently know it. And, of course, Kokofu is historically one of the major settlements of the Adanse State, and the Adanse are also known to have been the first of the Akan States to have constructed houses made of stone architecture. It is also the home of the Okyenhemaa. Indeed, as I read the afore-referenced article in which the reporter described the Upper-East, Upper-West and the Northern Region Proper as “The Three Northern Regions,” I could not help but wonder why the Eastern, Central, Western, Brong-Ahafo and Asante regions are not called “The Five Akan Regions.” For, the latter regions are even more ethnically and culturally homogeneous and cohesive than the so-called “Three Northern Regions,” which politically divisive leaders like former President John Dramani Mahama mischievously used in his two presidential election campaigns to remarkable effect.

Indeed, we could actually speak of “The Six Akan Regions,” especially when one reckons the fact that linguistically and population-wise, the Greater-Accra Region is more predominantly Akan than it is anything else. I have often observed in the past that the Akan and the Ga are inextricably a twin culture. Of course, I fully recognize the psychological threat that such categorization poses to nonethnic Akan-Ga/Ga-Akan people. And so maybe to ease such unnecessary tension, we need to envisage the Upper-East, Upper-West and the Northern regions as the disparate or distinct administrative entities that they are officially supposed to be.

At any rate, it is quite interesting that President Akufo-Addo, on a recent tour of the so-called Three Northern Regions, wondered aloud where the much-touted Mahama-constructed roads had gone to, in view of the fact that former Mahama appointees like Messrs. Felix Ofosu-Kwakye, Edward Omane-Boamah, and even former Vice-President Kwesi BekoeAmissah-Arthur, had vigorously campaigned on the supposedly massive construction of roadways across the length and breadth of the country. Paradoxically, on October 3, when Nana Akufo-Addo paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief and people of Lawra, in the Upper-West Region, the first request put to the President was the need for the construction of motorable roads in their township and its environs.

I also vividly recall during one of his electioneering campaign tours of the Western Region, when Nana Akufo-Addo bitterly complained that there were only an insignificantly few stretches of motorable roads in this natural-resource rich part of the country, then-President Mahama sneeringly shot back by retorting that had the then-72-year-old CandidateAkufo-Addo not been sleeping at the wheel during most of his tour of the region, he would have noticed the very impressive network of roads constructed by his National Democratic Congress’ government.

Of course, now we know that it was Mr. Mahama who had been literally sleeping at the wheel during most of the four years that he was Chief Resident of the Flagstaff House. The man left a humongous debt of GH? 122 billion, half of which he claimed to have gone into building the longest stretch of motorable roads since 1957. Go figure!

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