What will Akufo-Addo do for the Western Region?

Wed, 5 Dec 2012 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

As we inch toward Election Day, those coming across as desperate are doing desperate things. And they raise more questions about their own integrity than answers to attract public goodwill.

The Western Regional branch of the NPP-funded TESCON has issued a press statement condemning government for failing to give 10% of the oil revenue to the Western Region as promised before the 2008 elections. A Dominic Eduah, the Regional TESCON Coordinator, explained the group’s concerns in that statement (see “Mahama, where is our 10%?—TESCON,” Ghanaweb, December 4, 2012).

A cursory reading of this statement revealed that it’s just one of the cheap means by which the NPP and its affiliates seek to create disaffection for the government. One would have glossed over it but for its striking reminder of the crude politics that the NPP does, which explains its high level of desperation.

I am being purposefully snide here. I mince no words, and will make it clear to these NPP fanatics that their kind of anachronism doesn’t ensure political victory. It only exposes them to public ridicule.

Their press statement is not borne out by any genuine desire to seek the welfare of the Western Region. It is worse than an attempt to manipulate the sentiments of the people for cheap political points. Playing on their intelligence by raising this issue of 10% of revenue from the oil industry and using it for this kind of jaundiced political rhetoric is amateurish and wayward.

Had they taken the trouble to do some background checks, they would have realized the futility of this rhetoric and spent their time more productively on their public outreach.

When that problem cropped up about two years ago, it couldn’t be resolved expeditiously, apparently because it immediately assumed partisan political dimensions with the NPP claiming to be supporting the bid of the Western Region chiefs and blaming the Mills government for reneging on a promise that then Vice Presidential Candidate, John Mahama, was alleged to have made to the chiefs.

The delegation of Western Region chiefs who met with the former President over the issue left the meeting with an understanding of the enormity of the problem and didn’t mobilize citizens of the Region for any further demonstration of anger. When Parliament sealed the matter by not acceding to the chiefs’ demand, the dust settled on it while the government pursued its development agenda for the Region.

For these TESCON elements to return to that matter at this time speaks volumes. They are doing so, not because they have the genuine desire of the Region at heart but because they consider it as a political goldmine to exploit for the benefit of the NPP. But it is a misplaced pursuit.

And this is why: Do these TESCON elements not know how their Akufo-Addo intends to spend revenue from the oil sector if he wins the elections? He has no consideration of 10% for the Region.

Are they not informed of his intention to use that revenue to fulfill his promise of a fee-free SHS education in the country? Do they not know that by spending the money that way, there will be nothing left to specifically set aside for the Western Region?

Again, have these neophytes sat down to analyze the Parliamentary proceedings concerning this issue of 10% of the oil revenue and the agitations that went on at the time the Western Region chiefs rose up to demand their fair share of the national cake? I wrote articles on that issue and can tell why the agitation fizzled out the way it did.

What’s more, these TESCON elements haven’t even been politically savvy enough to wonder why their flagbearer hasn’t even bothered to say anything about what specifically he has up his sleeves for the Western Region in the light of the 10% oil revenue. If, indeed, it were high on his agenda, why hasn’t he disclosed it? He hasn’t done so because it is not worth his bother. He has nothing for the Western Region.

But these political novices won’t analyze issues before rushing out to display their ignorance. They have raised this issue at this time purposely to incite the electorate in the Western Region against the government, hoping that it will yield votes for their NPP. Desperation at its peak, indeed!

But it is not surprising that these youthful elements are trapped in the NPP’s outmoded approaches to politicking. They can’t do otherwise but resort to the same outmoded methods used by their forebears in the “Ma te me ho” era. They have already cultivated those paralyzing pre-independence habits of mind and adopted the self-same anachronistic strategies for pursuing their political agenda.

If it is not outright peddling of lies, downright calumny, or insidious undercutting of their political opponents, then, it is recourse to vain threats, intimidation, or physical attacks.

We see them in their true element every day. Any time they open their mouths to either initiate public discourse on national issues, they are more inclined toward sowing the seeds of discord. If they can’t win the argument because they lack cogent facts to support their claims, they resort to insults and threats to stifle dissension. They are all over the place, behaving as if anybody owes them any gratitude.

There is no gainsaying the importance of the Western region to Ghana. The circumstances surrounding the development problems facing the Region go beyond this narrow scope of 10%.

Indeed, it is pathetic for the Region to be so neglected, beginning from the era of Nkrumah, an indigene of the Region through succeeding regimes until Rawlings began changing the situation with whatever he could do to open up the Region through the rural electrification project, road construction, and the creation of local-level administrative structures to speed up development.

The situation hasn’t been drastically improved, but, at least, there is a clear indication that the Region hasn’t been completely sidestepped. More still needs to be done, but it can’t be done only when 10% of the national revenue is specifically allocated to the Region.

This is where the childishness of the TESCON elements takes its root from. By harping on this 10% issue and using it for their narrow politicking, they come across as pitiable pawns in the game of the sharks in the party who are adept at such manipulation for personal gains.

Those opposed to any preferential treatment to the various regions on the basis of the resources they provide for the country know why. Since not all regions are well endowed, what happens to those that don’t have resources? Leave them to their fate?

The larger issue is that regardless of which region provides which resource, the government must ensure equity in the development of the country, especially if that will curb the major problems that deepen the people’s plight.

That is why it is ridiculous for Akufo-Addo to set his eyes on the oil revenue and base all his promises on it. It seems he is over-estimating the potential of this industry to build castles in the air. We are told that since it took off, the petroleum sector has yielded about 400 million Dollars so far.

No one knows what the future holds and anybody pinning hopes on this oil sector for revenue to fulfill extravagant promises of the sort that Akufo-Addo is dumping on the electorate may as well be looking for dung where no cow ever grazed. And that is why those uninformed youth misusing their youth exuberance and spitting fire at the touchline should take caution.

Raking up the past over this 10% issue won’t pave the way for an electoral victory; it will only betray the ignorance and plain treachery of those doing so. Let Akufo-Addo use the oil revenue to support his free SHS venture and then turn round to tell the people of the Western Region that their reward is in heaven.

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.