When a region lacks leadership

Fri, 18 Mar 2016 Source: Kb2014gh@gmail.com

Leadership at various levels in the management of human lives in any institution, families, communities, nations and what have you is very crucial to the attainment of set goals and objectives. Nations have developed and progressed under the right leadership who dreamed beyond their generation to create a modern world for generations that never met them. I keep on saying that many of the younger generations of the U.S.A do not know which came first, the underground subway train system or the roads and the buildings above the subways. Those who thought about the subways, planned them and executed them did that for the future, perhaps not for their time.

I also know that nowhere in the civilized world is the most endowed part denied basic infrastructure that improves and enhances the lives of the people who through no fault of theirs had been put there by nature. It does not also mean that once natural resources have been located in a particular area, it should benefit only those people within the catchment area. Since time immemorial, the people of the Western Region have been coaxed into believing that merely being rich in natural resources is just enough for the people to be content with themselves. So the cliché ‘the best comes from the West’ has been bandied about by politicians and technocrats to make us swollen headed, when in reality the worst in terms of the distribution of the national cake, has been the lot of the people of the region.

I have over time decided not to talk too much about the region because, in my view, we seem to relish in the unfortunate mistreatment this nation has heaped on us since time immemorial because there seem to be as many people, as I am, being passionate about the state of the region. The plight of this rich region is attributable to the leadership we have had over time; in this case, both traditional and political leadership have failed this beautiful region of ours. This region has one of the worst stretches of poor roads and other basic facilities that span across the country, needless to recap them but I am of the firm belief that as long as a boil remains at any part of the body, the palm will not cease to rub that place. I don’t have to repeat myself needlessly.

The essence of this piece is about the utmost contempt with which this region is treated on a daily basis by those who control and manage the resources which is extracted from the Western Region with some negative consequences on the people and their communities and the noisy silence of those who represent the region.

The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) prides itself in the construction of regional hospitals all over the place with so many beds and so forth and so forth. Of course the (P)NDC has ruled this country for close to 27 years, 19 of which was uninterrupted. Therefore, if they have done that it should not be news at all since that is what is expected of a government that has managed and controlled the nation’s resources for such a long period in the nation’s life. Remember, we just celebrated the 59th anniversary of this country and if a particular political tradition with the same crop of people has controlled our resources for close to 27 years, then the principle of ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ applies. In the same vein, the principle of ‘from whom much is taken, much is expected in return’ should apply.

In all these ear-drum breaking cacophony of having built regional hospitals throughout the country, the Western Region is not mentioned. Fortunately for me, I hardly get sick, so hospitals are not areas I visit regularly. In my almost 30 years life stay in the Sekondi-Takoradi vicinity, I have been the guest of the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital once, and that was in 1968 when I collapsed after a high-jump within the vicinity of the Railway quarters opposite the Zenith area of Takoradi where I lived. I was in the Primary School and was admitted to the Hospital for two weeks. Since then I have only been visiting the facility for routine laboratory tests to know how my body system is functioning, in many instances, on my own volition and on a few occasions on the advice of Medical officers.

Just about a month ago, I went to the Effia-Nkwanta Regional medical facility to do some tests, while waiting for the result, I decided to take a stroll on the ‘campus’ of the hospital. I did not see much improvement from what existed when I was first accommodated there almost 48 years back. The old colonial building I saw in those days is still the dominant infrastructure there. However, the services rendered to me at the time were not the same; they have declined in my estimation. I remember those days when in-patients were asked to choose from a selected menu for lunch and dinner for the next day. The breakfast was almost always the same for most of us.

The next time I made a very serious visit to the facility was in 1985, when my father-law was operated upon for hernia. After the surgery at the theatre, we had to carry the patient up to the third floor for him to take his bed. This activity was done unprofessionally by relations like me. My in-law did not survive, and I believe that his physical ‘management’ immediately after the surgery by unprofessional hands might have contributed to his death. We had to carry him because the lifts to the floors were dysfunctional.

Dear reader, as of today, the lift is still dysfunctional at Effia-Nkwanta and patients have to be carried from theatres to their beds on the top floor. Why have I raised this issue this time? Just this week, there has been a report that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has given a whooping US$4.5million to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to help establish a Sickle Cell Unit in the Regional Hospital. As of today, the major source of monies to the GNPC comes from oil production from the Cape-Three Points Basin of the Western Region. The lifts in our Regional Hospital are down and the GNPC does not care.

They can decide not to care because that is how all other state institutions have treated this rich region since time immemorial. Until the Kufuor administration, there was a Cocoa Clinic in Accra when the Region which produces the largest quantum of cocoa did not have a good medical facility. Kufuor built a Cocoa Hospital in Debiso in the Sefwi area of the region. My problem is with the traditional and political leaders who represent the region at various levels of this nation.

Western Region has all the critical arms of national security stationed here, to wit, the Airforce, Navy and the Infantry, aside the Police Service which is found everywhere. Mining activities by way of gold, manganese, bauxite and now oil are done simultaneously in the Western Region. So if there is any region that requires an equivalent of the 37 Military Hospital, it should be the Western Region. It is being built in Kumasi, I don’t have a problem because if that is to serve the Northern sector of the nation. But what about a well- equipped regional hospital for the Western Region where all the risky economic activities in the risky extractive industry take place?

We have prominent Chiefs who do not care about the plight of the Region, our elected Parliamentarians can afford medical treatments in South Africa and other expensive health facilities in and outside of Ghana. I know of two Members of Parliament in the Western Region whose wayward daughters got pregnant outside marriage and were flown to the UK to deliver their babies. They did not have to be carried to top floors after delivery. Why would they care if Effia-Nkwanta has no functioning lifts? And policy and decision makers would not care? Cry my beloved region. Three tots, Daavi.

Columnist: Kb2014gh@gmail.com