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Inner City and Zongo ministry is here to stay!

There is absolutely no duplication of functions between the newly created ministry established by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to cater to the especial needs of our inner-city and zongo communities around the country, contrary to what Dr. Eric Oduro-Osae, the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies, would have the nation believe (See “Expert Worried About Creation of Dev Ministry” Graphic.com.gh / Ghanaweb.com 1/26/17).

As I pointed out on a web-radio forum recently, Nana Akufo-Addo, the man who caused the creation of the Inner-City and Zongo Development Ministry, was himself born in the Nima-Zongo, Accra, and has lived in the zongo community most of his life. The unmistakable implication here is that this ministry has been created by someone with a practical experience and concrete knowledge about the perennial and systematic shortchanging of our inner-city and zongo communities by successive governments.

Likewise, contrary to what Dr. Oduro-Osae would have the Ghanaian public believe, the existence and functional orientation of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has tended to focus on rural or village communities outside the major towns and cities in the country. Which is why it is rather disingenuous for the board member of the Center for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA) to call for the reorientation of the Local Government Ministry. The fact of the matter is that the latter ministry is too ossified in its rural conservative agenda to be radically reformed or retooled overnight to effectively respond to the needs of citizens and inhabitants of that one part of the country for which the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development was never created or intended to serve.

There is the imperative necessity for what social scientists call “A Paradigm Shift.” This means that a separate ministry has to be created to address the dire and specific needs of our inner-city and zongo communities, whose continuous neglect and woeful underdevelopment have ensured that not only would these potential areas of tourist attraction continue to lag behind the rest of the country and become an eyesore on the nation’s architectural landscape, but even more worrisomely, these areas of heavy population concentration have also become permanent cesspools for such contagious and communicable disease as cholera and tuberculosis, among a host of other preventable diseases.

Needless to say, if, indeed, there were any functional duplications as Dr. Oduro-Osae would have his audiences and the members of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC) believe, he would not have called for the “re-focusing” of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to adequately address the pressing needs of our inner-city and zongo communities. In short, it is quite clear that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has too much on its plate, as it were, to be able to effectively carry the hefty load of zongo and inner-city development.

It is also a patent non-issue for Dr. Oduro-Osae to argue that the budgetary allocations for the district assemblies also cover the zongos and inner cities. In theory, he may be quite right; but the evidence on the ground is woefully lacking. And this is precisely where the practical experience and policy expertise of President Akufo-Addo comes in. The critic also mentions former President John Dramani Mahama’s purported directive for all cabinet appointees and other senior government employees to contribute 10-percent of their salaries, to be used in the construction of Community-Based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) Centers (whatever the latter means), but he does not tell us how much money was realized by the aforesaid executive directive.

Even more importantly, how many of these so-called Community-Based Health Planning and Service Compounds were built? A dean of research ought to have such data at his fingertips and be willing and ready to share with the public and policymakers. Merely and vacuously expressing his concerns with the all-too-salutary creation of the Inner-City and Zongo Development Ministry does not get him very far.

Then also, Dr. Oduro-Osae contradicts himself when he says that “If there was the need to build a school project at Madina Zongo, the budgetary allocation should come from the presidency and not from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.” In other words, Dr. Oduro-Osae’s argument only vindicates President Akufo-Addo’s decision to create a discrete or a separate ministry for inner-city and zongo development. The fact of the matter is that even where there is a duplication of ministerial functions, there is never enough money from a single source, and two or more sources may have to be tapped to complete any worthwhile project.

It is also quite obvious that supporters and sympathizers of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are morbidly uneasy about the creation of a “Zongo Ministry,” because it glaringly exposes the systematic and perennial exploitation of our zongo residents by successive NDC governments for political gain. The fact of the matter is that if Nana Akufo-Addo is able to make a heck of a remarkable difference in the quality of the lives of our zongo and inner-city residents, the key operatives of the National Democratic Congress know perfectly well that they are toast, as New Yorkers are wont to say. In other words, their chances of regaining the democratic reins of governance anytime soon is highly unlikely.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

January 26, 2017

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe Kwame

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