Asante Watch is an advocacy group whose main objective is to advocate, monitor and advice towards the developmental needs of Asante, Ghana, and Africa at large. In this role, the advocacy group will be objective and nonpartisan in its assessment.
On development, Asante Watch has closely observed and monitored the positive progression of the Akufo-Addo led NPP administration since January 2017.
Asante Watch can state without any equivocation that it is impressed with the positive utilization of the nation’s oil revenue. The bold commitment to use part of the oil revenue to fund education, the Free SHS, is unprecedented in the history of Africa. It is a program that is set to catapult the nation to greater heights.
The obnoxious Dumsor Crisis is no more not because of new sources of revenue, but due to the prudent and knowledgeable management of the energy sector. Taxes have been cut. Utility tariffs reduced and businesses deregulated. The business environment has steadily improved due to business-friendly policies.
Hopefully, when it takes off, One District One factory would not become another government give away like MASLOC. We expect the program to be geared more toward the private sector. To all the above, Mr. President, Asante Watch says, congratulations; accept our kudos!
However, inspired by fairness, truth, frankness and the quest for equitable development, Asante Watch, deems it imperative, after two budget reads, to remind and draw the NPP’s attention to the deplorable state of Ashanti Region and promises made to alleviate them and Ghana at large.
In the 4th Republic- as in the Gold Coast and the 1st Republic- only two policies have been offered the Ashanti Region: Total neglect and unfulfilled promises.
Jerry Rawlings was selectively disruptive, to say the least. His charisma was indeed contrary to his persona, which had a grand anti-Akan scheme, specifically against Ashantis. He did not only neglect the region, he also made sure that the development infrastructure in the region was destroyed.
President Kufuor served his two terms leaving behind unfulfilled promises in the region. The Mills-Mahama’s administration was even worse. However, the Ashanti region is the most populous region in the nation. The region has the second biggest local economy in the nation. Moreover, most important, the region is the second largest contributor to the national cake in terms of revenue and resources.
In an equitable nation, these three factors alone should make the region a topmost priority in the developmental policies of successive governments, especially given the deplorable state of the region.
The physical and developmental health of the nation depends on and is a reflection of its most populous territory. Nevertheless, that has not been the case. In NPP’s case -besides the above factors- the Ashanti region is the Party’s World Bank. And as a world bank, the region has shown consistent faith in the NPP, giving the party 80% plus votes in 2016 even more than what the region gave Kufuor.
With all the above factors, it seems, have not been able to inspire the current NPP government; campaign promises, to speed up the region’s development based on campaign promises. Two budgets already read, with two more to go before election 2020.
The Ashanti region is yet to witness any significant developmental projects. Asante Watch, therefore, is calling on President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to remember his campaign promises made at Manhyia Palace; at Kajetia Market; at districts and in constituencies; and from podium to podium in the region.
International Airport, Inland Port, Roads
Key projects among the campaign promises and very dear to the region are an International Airport, the completion of the Boankra Inland Port and good Roads. Asante Watch is keenly aware of the recent announcement on the rehabilitation of Kumasi roads. We are equally aware of the informal pressure from the region, which led to the announcement and commencement of the rehabilitation projects. However, the rehabilitation of Kumasi roads is not enough-no major or new road construction.
The ongoing rehabilitation works involve only patching and filling portholes with a few kilometers asphalted here and there. In fact, the whole rehabilitation project covers less than 5% of Kumasi roads-not to talk about the region.
The first NPP administration promised but failed to deliver an International Airport. President John Mahama promised but instead added only night lights and runway expansion to the existing 75-year-old airport. Insultingly, it was christened an “International Airport” after what came to be known as the “First Phase” was completed. Candidate Nana Addo also made some promises. But what do we see? Instead of an international airport befitting the status of the Ashanti Region as the Garden City and the second major city of Ghana, the NPP has decided to continue the insulting project of John Mahama with a “Second Phase.”
Again, Asante Watch says that is unacceptable.
The NDC abandoned the Boankra Inland Port, a promise made and actually started by the first NPP administration. So far, the only move by the present government to kick-start the project, after two budgets read, is the appointment of a CEO.
In every country, the road or roads linking the capital with its second most important city is the most important road network. Yet Kumasi to Accra road is a deathtrap.
As stated above, Kumasi does not need a patch and fill porthole rehabilitation works. Kumasi needs newly constructed roads, especially the completion of the inner and outer ring roads. Morocco has six International airports.
Tanzania has three. Is the current Kumasi pseudo-international airport an investment the nation needs as well as befitting the status of the nation’s second international airport? Kumasi needs an International Airport. The garden city needs an international airport from the scratch. The first NPP administration conducted feasibility studies on a new airport at a new location at Ankase. The wasted monies on the first and second phases of the current project could have gone into building a new International airport at a more suitable location.
The argument making the rounds that, without a railway network, Boankra Inland Port is nonfunctional is a fallacy. Asante Watch expects the government to restart the project. Not only rails can transport goods from the coast to the interior. At least, the government should start working on storage and warehousing as part of a “second phase.” Currently, the Ashanti Region is the only region without a regional hospital. This situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible, Asante Watch DEMANDS. It is a travesty, which could only happen to Ashanti.
Our demands are not unreasonable but feasible. As the World Bank, the fortunes of the Party depends on the Ashanti region. The President would clearly remember that had Ashanti voted massively in 2008 as it did in 2016, the “Lord’s Battle” would have been won back then.
But it did not happen. And this was so because of the resentments on the part of voters due to the glaring neglect and unfulfilled promises, which, in turn, translated into voter apathy.
The memories of unfulfilled promises are still fresh in the minds of the people of Ashanti region. And ominously, the nonchalant attitude of the first NPP administration towards the region, in its early stages, is beginning to manifest itself, again. A sense of déjà vu is slowly beginning to creep in. Ashantis are becoming disillusioned with the government. However, the electoral fortunes of the NPP, for better or for worse, depends on the Ashanti region likewise the NDC. Therefore, it would be an electoral tragedy for the NPP and a developmental catastrophe for the nation- if Nana Addo were to leave office with meager development in the Ashanti region like his NPP predecessor.
Asante Watch implores the current NPP government not to think only of its eight years by STRINGING Ashanti region along-by taking our votes for granted. Like 2008, the Ashanti region would have to vote not against Nana Addo or his successor. But like 2008, the Ashanti region will not turn out to vote at all. Or it could be sooner than 2024.
Asante Watch is an apolitical advocacy group inspired by fairness, frankness and the truth. Our aim is the health of Ashanti region, which as the largest territory in terms of population, is the thermometer to measure the temperature of the nation. This has been an introductory message.
In the coming months, Asante Watch will be focusing on specific issues affecting the Region. It is in the interest of the government to take heed.