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Opinions of Thursday, 14 July 2011

Columnist: Superior, Musa

Why I Am Seeking To Serve As MP For Tamale Central

Iddrisu Musah Superior

NPP Parliamentary Candidate, Tamale Central

1.0 Introduction

There are 230 Members of Parliament; each representing a constituency in the country. I am seeking to represent the Tamale central constituency on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party in the 2012 general elections. When elected to the Legislative Assembly, my job will be to serve, represent and advocate for everyone in the constituency irrespective of Party political affiliation. I will attend to and represent all natives and residents of the constituency in the most effective manner and without bias.

There are really four parts to my job - taking part in debates in Parliament, working in Committees, dealing with problems and issues for constituents, visiting and keeping in touch with as many local people, organisations and groups as I can. An individual MP does not have much power to demand that something is changed on behalf of a constituent, but I do have the ability to get access to the right people and try to get the problem solved. I will also get involved in broader campaigns on behalf of the constituency - for example fighting for social and infrastructural development for the constituency, amplifying the voice of the vulnerable and disabled.

When elected I will generally do everything I can to help my constituents, but I will not be able to support every cause, nor will I be able to get the desired solution to every individual problem. As an MP I have to use my judgment. I am not, on any particular issue, simply expected to go along with whichever opinion is most popular in the constituency. Whilst I will greatly value the opinions of my constituents there will be times when I will not share them. Rather, I have to decide what is in the best interest of the constituency. To this end I have to act as guardian of the taxpayers' money whilst at the same time being able to critically examine the Government's work.

As MP, I will not be able to deal with all the problems that you might have. For instance I am not there to help you in private issues or to interfere with decisions made by the court, except when a clear case of innocence or wrongful verdict is apparent. I am, however, there to help with matters for which Parliament or Central Government is responsible. In some cases, I may raise your concerns or problems in Parliament, in front of the press or write formally on your behalf to a government Minister.

2.0 Key Priorities

When elected my key priorities would be as follows:

2.1 Education:

Education is the key to eradicating extreme poverty. Critical thinking skills, social accountability, and financial independence all stem from education. I commit to making sure that all children of school going age have access to at least primary level education. The Metropolitan Assembly, MP and all stakeholders have an obligation, through reasonable measures, to progressively make education available and accessible to all children in the constituency.
The following policies shall be implemented.

• An education fund will be established to support brilliant but needy students in the constituency.

• Children would take a diagnostic assessment when they start school. The assessment would look at reading, comprehension, numeracy, communication and writing skills. The results would enable teachers to identify any extra support needed.

• Working with the Metropolitan Assembly, central government and NGOs, I will ensure the rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of school infrastructure of public schools in the constituency. It will consist of three components: (a) construction and rehabilitation of classrooms; (b) repair and rehabilitation classrooms; (c) provision of materials, equipment and furniture for schools.

• I will advocate for improved welfare package and pay for teachers who are doing enormous job to raise our kids. Regular refresher courses, provision of modern facilities, teaching aids and appropriate learning environments will improve teaching and leaning in our schools. I am committed to working with individual schools to achieve excellence.

2.2 Poverty Reduction

Persons in the community make less than $1 a day. My priority is to reduce poverty by 50% in my first term of office. The following policies will be implemented

• My share of the MP Fund will be exclusively channeled to a Poverty Reduction Fund managed by a non-partisan board. The fund will be dedicated to financing small scale projects for women and others in the constituency. A disbursement criterion will be formulated and publicly available to enhance transparency
• Seek private sector participation in local manufacturing that utilizes raw materials (shea butter, maize, and rice) produced in the constituency and adjoining areas. I will encourage Tamale Metropolitan Assembly to aggressively begin promoting medium and large scale commercial farming by encouraging/supporting individuals/groups to take up the initiative. This move will inevitably affect rural development initiatives. Given the size and importance of agriculture in the Ghanaian economy, it will drive rural development efforts and help alleviate poverty.

• In cooperation with the relevant ministries, I seek to improve the marginal productivity of farmers and farms through the use of modern farming techniques and agricultural extension with the increased output feeding local industries.
• Seek government and non-government participation in developing the infrastructure of the constituency and adjoining areas by providing access to water, energy and sanitation system. I seek to spearhead trade and industrial development in the constituency as well as promote and attract local and foreign investment. Working in full cooperation with the two other MPs and the Metropolitan Assembly, we have a responsibility to establish appropriate mechanisms that enable and facilitate investment and trade in the Metropolis.
• I seek to strengthen the already considerable abilities of the youth through infotainment and edutainment to cope with and combat vulnerability & deprivation, & empowering them to overcome the barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. I will work directly with young persons as well as local community based organisations, NGOs and other development players to deliver this strategy.
2.3 Security and Peace:
In order for the Tamale Central constituency and adjoining constituencies to reach our economic and development potential, we need to create an atmosphere of peace where economic actors feel secured to engage in economic activity. Recent events in our communities have called our commitment to peace and security into question, leading the central government to spend significant resources to maintain the peace. My priority will be to establish the constituency as a secured, peaceful, and friendly area. I aim to undertake development initiatives in which we will with work with government agencies and stakeholders to redefine our purpose and parameters for political, economic and social development to building a reconciled, unified & envisioned Kingdom where we will share a strong sense of traditional identity, community spirit & genuine commitment in pursuit for our development goals. The following policies will be implemented.
• Establish an Abudu/Andani forum that meets on a monthly basis to discuss issues of mutual interest and to seek a comprehensive solution to our traditional problems devoid of national politics.
• Work out a formula with the national government that focuses on converting security resources to economic resources based on verifiable measures of peace and security.
• I will work with the two other MPs and in conjunction with the chiefs and Inter Party Advisory Committee to establish the Tamale Peace Forum to make a contribution towards the promotion of sustainable peace and security through conflict prevention. The TPF with the support of the stakeholders must identify ways of preventing conflicts and of resolving them when they erupt. The Forum shall liaise with the Metropolitan Security Committee in its operations.
• I will team up with the MPs for Tamale South and North and other stakeholders to establish the Tamale Local Strategic Partnership (TLSP) to make Tamale a better place to live, to work in and to visit. TSLP will bring together the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to tackle the big issues in the Metropolis. The Tamale Local Strategic Partnership (TLSP) will produce annual Action Plans aimed at addressing its stated Priorities. The Action Plans will identify targets and outcomes for each action which will be monitored and evaluated to ensure their effectiveness. All actions will be focused on at least one of the Strategic Priorities. Funding will be sourced from the private and public sectors and from foreign charities.
2.4 Healthcare:
The healthcare statistics in Tamale Central reveal a disturbing trend of rising infant mortality and decreasing life expectancy. Further, many productive and school hours are lost to preventable ailments, including malaria, diarrhea, cholera, etc. Other treatable conditions are left untreated and escalate into kidney failures, chronic diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. My priority will be to reverse this statistic and make the constituency a model health constituency worthy of emulation by other constituencies. The following policies will be implemented.
• As a matter of urgency, I will source funding and expertise to bring the Tamale Teaching Hospital to modern standards. As the leading hospital in the Northern Regions, the standards at this hospital must parallel those at the major capitals of Africa, including Accra.
• Revitalize the Tamale West hospital to provide affordable and accessible primary care for constituents.
• Aggressive public education on the benefits of exercise, diet, and regular checks of vital statistics.
• Install blood pressure kits at accessible locations.
• Provide housing and other services to attract medical professionals to the constituency.
• I will work with the Metropolitan Assembly and the MPs for Tamale North and South to provide and develop facilities for recreation and leisure for children in Tamale. Facilities of which children and their parents will spend time to 'run around' and which will improve the conditions of life for such children by promoting their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. A healthy child is a healthy future for our community and Ghana.
2.5 Non-Partisan Open Door Policy for Constituents
One of the promises of democracy is the participation of the people in governance. However, this promise is becoming elusive because of distance, spatial and social, between elected representatives and voters. As a result, most elected representatives lose touch with the people. My commitment is to always be in touch with you, listen to your concerns, and articulate your concerns at the legislative chamber in a way that brings quick solutions to you. This approach will also offer practicable bases for constituents to monitor my manifesto and campaign promises. In pursuing this, I will implement these policies.
• A well equipped and professionally staffed office in Tamale to address constituent’s issues.
• Availability and accessibility on phone, face book, email and twitter with a guaranteed response in less than 48 hours.
• Accessible to all constituents without regard to party or other social affiliation.
• Hold monthly surgeries (one on one session) with constituents.
• Feedback to the chiefs, Imams and opinion leaders of Tamale three monthly
• Meet periodically with constituents in a town hall style to discuss government policies.
• Discourage entrenched partisan views.
• Organise a six-monthly all party sports festivals in the Metropolis.
3.0 Conclusion
The objective of every MP should be solely aimed at representing his constituents’ in the most effective manner and to work with them to achieve set goals. Being honest is essential for a successful relationship between MPs and their constituents. Giving honest suggestion to a constituent might make an MP unpopular in the short-term but will keep you in line with your duty. I will be honest, sincere and objective as an MP.

My campaign will not dwell on what happened in the past. Instead, our focus would be on now and the future and on defining a model on which a coherent and rigorous agenda would be formulated for the way forward. Our energies would be spent on moving forward; towards finding the answers. We should endeavor to move from pettiness and plain rhetoric and concentrate on what will create wealth and prosperity.

In seeking to serve my people I will not like to be followed forever. I do not intend to keep a pool of followers who will forever be at the base. I intend to deliver on a model of partnership that recognises the potential of every person. There will be a time when I will become a follower, and then other young people take charge. We can do this firmly believing that wisdom & skills do not reside in only one person.

Thank you.