A case for moving the capital from Accra -rejoinder

Wed, 31 Jan 2007 Source: Jeffrey, Peter

The writer was among those who advocated for the nation’s capital city to be relocated to the midlands and suggested Brong Ahafo region as the most ideal choice.

Others, including some of the aspiring presidential candidates have also suggested decentralisation by moving some of the ministries to the regions. Although some commentators may argue that it is important to tackle some of the most pressing socio-economic issues facing the nation, such as persistent hunger among our citizens, acute poverty, homelessness, unemployment and under employment, poor housing, poor health care, gender inequality, income disparity between the urban rich and rural poor, poor sanitation, HIV/AIDS, urban degradation etc but that does not mean the relocation of the capital must not be debated.

Others might argue may argue that with aid from the donor countries and our former colonial masters forming a huge 48% of our national budget, how as a nation can think about relocating our capital, which involves huge expenditure and would demand greater infrastructural development, with out first discussing how we can fund this project and at what cost. Our budget sadly must be approve by the Bretton Woods institutions before it can be implemented. Even NGOs do have a say as to how resources are allocated, and majority of these organisations contributes towards this.

Why Brong Ahafo Region as the natural choice and the best location to site our new capital city? Brong Ahafo Region was created by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s foremost President and the father of the nation. Nkrumah created the region, not, as some people argue, to break up the Asante Region, but to make the administration of the country manageable. The region, as the Statesman rightly pointed out, sits in the middle of our homeland, and thus would serve ever region of the country well, by opening up access to the north and easy connections to the south. With an international airport to be located at Tamale, which is not far from Suyani and Kimtampo, the benefits to the country would be brilliant. Tamale airport would be built to accommodate the new Boeing 777 Dream liner and Airbus 380 and any future super airplanes. Railroad and motorway would be constructed from the south to link Tamale in the north. The vast land in the 3 northern regions would be fully utilised to the benefit of the whole country. This development, it must be emphasise, is not a new development but a master plan drawn some 47 years ago (1960 to be precise) by Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Dr Nkrumah’s developmental agenda for Ghana at the period in question was well ahead of its time. This was the period that South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam were still backward countries. This fact has been acknowledged by every leading economist in the world. Nkrumah’s overthrown, Busia and the 1980s economic crisis is watershed in Ghana’s economic history. Nkrumah’s overthrown derailed our economic agenda and the 1980s economic crisis deprived Ghana of almost all her skilled labour. Ghana has never recovered. This is fact. Thus by relocating the capital city and implementing prudent economic policies that Ghana can entice her best brains home. South Korea, Malaysia and China’s “Economic Miracles” were successful due in part to the major role played by their Diaspora compatriots. Ghana is at the threshold of achieving greatness. In fact in 2020 Ghana must bid to host the 2032 Olympics in Accra/Kumasi. Our vision to achieve rapid economic development is no more a dream. The road to achieving this goal may be long and hard to negotiate but as Jake made it absolute clear in Atlanta to our African American brothers, Ghana is on her way! Once again the Red, Gold and Green flag with the Black Star in the middle is flying high!

Both the case for and against the relocation of the capital and ministries are compelling and would go on long after our generation leave the stage, but it is a debate that we most never shy away from.

As the Statesman and others who have contributed to this debate have asserted, if we as a nation want to reposition our country as a country of choice for investors who wants to penetrate deeper into the continent, then this is the time to think big. The case for a new capital is so compelling that now is the time to seriously start debating about the pros and cons of relocation. Accra and Kumasi are choking to the brim and with more migration from the rural areas to the 2 metropolis, it is imperative that action is taken now to forestall this movement. The Statesman newspaper gave numerous examples of the benefits of relocation (Ghana web editorial 25th January 2007). By Choosing Kintampo or Suyani, the issue of domination by one tribe would be dispelled once and for all. The inhabitants of the Brong Ahafo region are diverse and land to house parliament would not be an issue.

There was a debate recently in the media about the role of the ministry for Diaspora relations. Proponents of the case against the role this ministry has been assigned argue about concentrating more on Ghana’s recent migrants, whose remittances is helping to sustain our motherland, instead of concentrating more on our cousins whose fore bearers were enslave some 200 years ago. This notion is wrong and dangerous. Ghana as a nation has come of age and it about time we as a nation reflect on the past. It is true that past mistakes cannot be corrected, but at least by acknowledging the severe hardships that our cousins fore fathers were subjected would enable all concern to move forward. African Americans who have establish Ghana our homeland and wants to come home and contribute towards her development are very much welcome. In this regard, this writer wants to appeal to the current government to consider the issue of citizenship and allow those who want to regain the citizenship of their ancestors to do so with any difficulty.

One African American explained to this writer in Tulsa, Oklahoma that it is important the Ghanaian government recognise the important contributions that they can make to the country if the issue of citizen is resolve, instead of them being treated as foreigners and second class citizens in the country that they recognised as their motherland.

Honourable Jake Obestibi Lamptey made statement at AME Zion church in Atlanta, Georgia, by directly appealing to the Ghanaian community to regard the African Americans as their brothers and sisters and support and encourage those who want to set up businesses or come to settle in Ghana. As Jake explained, it is known fact that majority of those who were taken into slavery went through the “Gate of No Return” at Cape Coast castle.

Those in Ghana should be educated to see our cousins from the Americas and the Caribbean as our own and not “foreigners”. They too, like those home, share our history, our rich traditional history.

It is true that due to unfortunate indoctrination that most of our African - American cousins have gone through over so many years, (and still continues today) most harbour a grudge against Africans on the continent, which is quite wrong. Others are making inroads into the investment market on the continent to the benefits of both parties. We need to welcome them with open arms.

At the recent Martin Luther King Junior’s March in Atlanta, this writer had the opportunity to listen to the Diaspora Minister made the case for sub-Saharan Africa to connect with the African Americans. Yes many have never been to the motherland and probably would never ever set foot on the land of their fore fathers, but then in United States of America, the Irish, Polish, Germans, English and other migrant nationalities (some goes back to 10 generations) are proud to be associated with their motherland. Even the Hispanics are proud to be associated with their homeland, so are the Korean Americans and the Chinese Americans. Thus it is quite appropriate for Hon Jake Obestsibi Lamptey to sound the battle cry for our own kin and kilt to come home. This land belongs to them as well “Hen Ara Hen Asasi ni”.

Commentators may ask what does relocation of our capital city got to do with the Diaspora. The simple answer is the nation that is known in history to have lost most of its citizens to the barbarity of slavery must position herself as the country of choice where her lost children who wants to invest can be welcome, by having all the necessary infrastructure in place. Ghana, the land of our birth, has set 2015 as the year to achieve middle income status. This project is a project that goes beyond mere rhetoric and hence demands more efforts from everyone connected with the country, and this includes the constituency that honourable Obetsibi Lamptey address in Atlanta on the 14th and 15th January 2007 at Atlanta, Georgia. This constituency includes the skill labour that Ghana lost over the last 3 decades and those that Ghana lost to slavery about 200 years ago. We are all one people.

As the Statesman argues, by relocating the capital to the middle belt does not mean domination by the Akan tribe over the others. Dr Nkrumah, an Akan, did not discriminate against any one tribe. He made sure we as one people stay united, Ewe, Frafra, Moshe, Ga, Dagogba, Fanti, Twi, Ahanta, Wassa, Yoruba, Hausa etc. Yes Yoruba! Accra New Town (popularly known as Lagos Town) is a case in point.

The national football team, the Black Stars and the junior team, the Starlets, represent the true face of our motherland that we must emulate. In the 1980s Ben and his brother Dan Kayode, of Ghanaian and Nigerian parentage play for the Ghana Black Stars. Later Daniel Kayode went to play for the Nigerian Green Eagles! That is our shared history. I am proud to be associated with this shared history. This unity is not negotiable and cannot be negotiated by anyone. It is enshrined in our constitution to stay united. It cannot be revisited. This unity has been our strength and continues to bond us together. Ghana is not former Yugoslavia and others that disintegrated. Ghana is unique. Ghana is the only country in the region not to have experienced a civil war. Those who want the break up of our homeland cannot divide our us. From WA in the Upper West to Axim in the South West is one country, the country of our birth. Dr Kwame Nkrumah was born a Black African. Dr Martin Luther King Jr was born an African American. Yet they shared the same dream – to see a strong and independent Ghana standing on her feet and spearheading the development of Black Africa (sub-Saharan Africa), our motherland.

THE UNITY OF OUR HOMELAND IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. Ghana is the only place that the Diasporan can truly call HOME. AKWAABA!

“Swing Low, sweet chariot Coming for to carry me home,

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?

Coming for to carry me home

A band of angels coming after me

Coming for to carry me home.

Hen Ara Hen Asasi Ni………the land belongs to all of us.

HAPPY 50th Birthday GHANA! The Black Star has come of age.

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter

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