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Opinions of Thursday, 17 November 2011

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Now That Ave Turns District, What’s Next?

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

Listen to what Article 240, Clause 2e of the 1992 Constitution says about the system of decentralized local government in Ghana: “…to ensure the accountability of local government authorities, people in particular local government areas shall, as far as practicable, be afforded the opportunity to participate effectively in their governance”.

Seriously speaking, I do not believe there is any well-meaning person under the sun who would say he/she does not want progress in his life and for that matter his community or country. With this understanding, I see it as normal for anybody or group of persons to gloss over any feat that has the propensity to say bye to any socio-economic and political misfortunes.

It is said that for quality development to happen at all inhabited areas in this country, there is the need to expand and strengthen the local government system, especially district assemblies.

With almost daily rise in the number of human population with corresponding increase in the demands for basic social amenities and services, both past and present governments have done their best in reconstructing and reengineering our local government structures to enable them function properly, though there are still challenges.

In order not to bore my readers with so many facts and figures on the trend of Ghana’s decentralization program since independence, I would want to refer to what Captain Nkrabeah Effah Dartey, a former Deputy Minister of Local Government, said in The Ghanaian Times (Friday, October 21, 2011 edition, pg. 7) that, “The NPP inherited 110 districts and through a series of increases, we handed over 170 districts to the NDC. Now they (referring to the NDC) have created 42 new areas, bringing the total to 212 districts in Ghana”.
Not withstanding the barrage of criticisms that then opposition NDC heaped on ex-President Kufour for adding new districts, majority of indigenes in those new districts at the time were really full of praise for the Kufuor-led NPP government since to them, the move would go a long way to empower them socially, economically and politically.

As for me, prior to coming out publicly with my positions on certain socio-economic and political issues in the country a couple of years ago, I have always been an advocate for effective decentralization. This, I believe, can happen only if stringent checks are mounted on our local leaders to make them live up to expectation. It is just good to speak for your suffering people till they are fully redeemed.

Just a few days ago, I was privileged to have received several calls and messages from brothers and sisters of Ave immediately my area was carved out of the Akatsi District for it to stand on its own as a district with Ave-Dakpa as the capital. Even some friends still tell me, “Tony, Ave is now a district and what are you waiting for? You and a few others have contributed well by projecting the area through the media and as we have finally been given a district, we need people like you to come on board and assist in running affairs of the district”.
I have not said this for reason of winning attention to be considered for any position in the district, per se, but to assure government that even though the people seem happy having their area created as district, that may not necessarily translate into votes if nothing is done to develop the area. After all, we have areas still lagging in development, though; they have been created districts long ago.
The fear is that looking at the way Ave is socio-economically disadvantaged, should government delay in releasing the so-called seed money of about one million Ghana cedis (GHC1m) or so for the start, I cannot see how the district can thrive. Actually, there are no major sources of revenue in the area to generate enough funds internally to push for development hence the need for government to lay the foundation.
My worry is that at the time this idea of making the area district was conceived, why couldn’t government start putting requisite structures in place to open up the area for investments? But all the same, let us give them the benefit of the doubt hoping that the whole matter of having created new districts for massive development ahead will not look like the tricks of the Volta university project and the STX Deal.
As we all know, development is an all-inclusive task and would therefore be out of place for any one political party to hijack the activities that go on in the district considering what is being alleged to have just started in the area. Despite the fact that it is a newly created unit where certain easy-to-avoid administrative flops are likely to occur at this preliminary stage due to inexperience, my appeal is that we must endeavor to learn very fast otherwise we should forget it!
Town hall meetings on the development of the district must be an all-embracing one. I do not believe the present situation where some government officials and individuals from the area are alleged to have been meeting only selected individuals for deliberations that will bind on the entire area will do us any good.
I would want to again use this medium to invite all indigenes of Ave resident abroad together with all those that have the development of the area at heart to come down in their numbers as we strive to develop the area, especially now that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) prepares to hand over power honorably to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), come 2012.