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Politics of Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Source: Chronicle

Owusu Ankomah: My plans for Ghana

THE MEMBER of Parliament for Sekondi and a Presidential Candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Papa Owusu Ankomah has stated that if he is elected as the flagbearer of the party and subsequently as President of Ghana, he would vigorously pursue the decentralization policy that would see some of the government agencies being deployed into the Regions.

He said Ghana appeared to be Accra centred as all government agencies and departments are located in the national capital and noted that if some of the government agencies were located in the Regions, there would be no need for one to travel all the way to Accra to transact government business.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah, who was interacting with the Western media in Sekondi last Saturday, said the Education, Science and Sports Ministry which he headed, had already prepared a bill that would be submitted to cabinet before the end of the year to empower the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to employ their own teachers to teach in the various basic schools.

He said though the central government would be paying the salaries of these teachers, they would own allegiance to the District Assemblies since they employed them. According to him, the aim of this decentralization policy was to trim down the bureaucracy in Accra.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah further told the newsmen that his presidency would make sure that all District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies would work to the satisfaction of the people. According to him, he would task the Assemblies to set targets and make sure that they will achieve goals.

He said any District that would fail to meet the target would then be held responsible. He said development projects such as schools among others would be distributed fairly across the length and breadth of the country.

The Sekondi MP also noted that NPP had not reneged on its pledge to make sure that all District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives were elected through universal adult suffrage.

He said for this to happen, portions of the 1992 Constitution would have to be amended through referendum and Parliament.

In the case of Parliament, he said the party needed the right majority to push forward with the idea. They also need to build consensus.

The Presidential aspirant would however not make any categorical statement that his presidency would ensure the election of the DCEs.

The out-gone Education Minister also diagnosed the failure to accept responsibility as one of the major problems confronting the country. He said if he is elected as the flagbearer of NPP and as the President of Ghana, his government would put in place programmes that would sensitize Ghanaians to accept their responsibilities.

According to him it is only when the people accepted their responsibilities that government policies could be implemented in a better way.

The presidential hopeful denied allegations that he had done nothing to help the people in his constituency. He mentioned some of the projects implemented during his tenure as MP for Sekondi as the construction of the Sekondi-Essipon road, the Ekuase sea defence wall, provision of dormitories and classrooms for three secondary schools- Sekondi Methodist, St. John and Adeambrah.

According to him, plans were far advanced for the Essel Lagoon to be dredged and demarcated to private investors to create a recreational centre in the area for the people of Sekondi. He said it was also through his lobbying that one of the stadia to host the CAN 2008 soccer tournament was built in Sekondi.

He however admitted that he could not solve all the problems facing the constituency but said he had done a lot and should be congratulated for that.

“Home Boy” as he is sometimes referred to, also told the reporters that some people had asked him why he had decided to leave government to pursue the ambitious idea of becoming President of Ghana but he replied that he was born just around the time Ghana gained independence and that he was the right person that could represent both the pre and post independence generations of the country.

He noted that President Kufuor had laid sound foundation and believed that he was the right person that could continue from where the current president left off. He was full of hope that he would win the race to become the flagbearer of NPP but should that fail him he would support the eventual winner in the interest of the party.