According to history, in the year 1789 or thereabouts, a terrible revolution broke out in France. When Her Majesty Queen Antoinette heard of the riots, she screamed: “Are the people tired of eating cakes?”
Of course, you could not blame her she was living in the castle surrounded by countries, aides, ministers, diplomats, attending endless conferences, state banquets and what have you… She did not know that right behind the walls of the castle, scores of people were dying of HUNGER – scraping for just a morsel of bread to keep body and soul together.
Just what is happening behind the walls of the Castle? In Ghana, what is happening outside Jubilee House? What is happening outside Accra? What is happening outside the regional capitals?
I was privileged to be the Deputy Minister of Local Government for four years in the first New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, and, reader, I was shocked at what I saw.
Prior to my appointment, I had been living and working in Accra as a court-going lawyer, shuttling between Novotel, Labadi Beach Hotel and Golden Tulip Hotel, the High Court, Supreme Court, and Kumasi High Court, cruising along in a white BMW.
Then I went to Local Government as Deputy Minister – reader – IS THIS GHANA? … Have you been to JENINI near Sampa, or Podoe near Ho? Have you heard of NZULEZO?
A famous arrogant politician who was my senior in Achimota School once remarked that the majority of Ghanaians live like ANIMALS in the countryside, going to toilet in open fields, eating raw, sleeping in apologies of huts… the first time I went to an outside community in Berekum as the NPP Parliamentary candidate called NKYENKYEMAANU, when I got back to Accra and saw my children, then students at Mfantsipim and Achimota School, relaxing comfortably on the sofa playing computer games on television… I looked at them and said aloud to no one: “You should just thank God…”
Do you know how Europe and America solved their problem of local poverty deprivation and local suffering, THROUGH TOTAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT, period! Allow the people to ELECT their own leaders; MAKE their own mistakes, and DEVELOP themselves, period!
When I was a student at Legon, in 1976 or thereabouts, there was a disaster in one American state and the President at the time, Jimmy Carter, went there and was reported on television as saying they should not expect the US government to come and solve their problems for them!
In those days I did not know anything about LOCAL GOVERNMENT, so I said: “How can a whole President talk irresponsibly like that.”
Later in life, when I was Deputy at Local Government, I understood the President’s message – today, rainstorm at Sogakofe; tomorrow floods at Agona Swedru; the next day bushfires in Domaa… one-man President – how can he solve ALL these problems, and at the same time attend UN Summit meetings, AU meetings and so on?
Solution – LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Govern yourself; elect your own mayor or prefect or governor or DCE – draw up your own budget, and GOVERN yourself.
But you may rightly ask, Captain why all this?
I bought “Daily Guide” Tuesday 25th June 2019, and I saw a big story: WIAWSO CHIEFS WANT Minister changed…”
But what story is this? When was Western North Region created? Not only yesterday? And when was their Regional Minister sworn in? And just now the Paramount Chief of Sefwi Wiawso wants him changed, what has he done? Is he at loggerheads with the Traditional Council?
But, let me ask, why should this be the headache of the President? Why should the President have sleepless nights in deciding who should be the Regional Minister for Ashanti, Western North, Oti or whatever “god-damned” region?
For me, I think the problem is simple.
Keeping ears to the ground, I hear there is conflict between the Regional Minster and his Deputy, and that the Deputy is in cahoots with the Traditional Council, doing all manner of things…
So, who is calling the shots – is it the President’s Regional Minister or the Paramount Chief of where, Krachi, or the Ya Na, or Otumfuo?
I have never been President before, but I can imagine that all that a President needs to do is what Nana Addo is doing: take macroeconomic decisions to reduce inflation, generate employment, and push through development; increase accessibility to and standard of education, tighten security both at home and the NATIONAL front, MAKE Government accessible to every Ghanaian… after that leaves the remainder to us.
Let us in Jinijini, Kumawu Bamboi, Elmina, Hohoe, in the countryside, allow us to ELECT our own popular leaders, RIGHTLY or WRONGLY, Moslem or Christian, women or youth… let us GOVERN ourselves, and you continue “presidenting” in ACCRA. That is all!
Let me repeat, ad nauseam, that the only open sesame to national development is to STRENGTHEN Local Government. Our NPP administration is pushing forward an agenda to ELLECT all district chief executives, and I hope all regional governors, to fully democratise power sharing and reduce presidential headaches.
Carry on, Nana Addo. You are on course!