I am not the very first avid observer of the Ghanaian political scene to have concluded that given a million years, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) would never come to terms with how real development works in society. For the likes of Messrs. John Dramani Mahama and Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, development is synonymous with vacuous campaign promises.
And the latter can clearly be seen on the landscape of the country’s first colonial capital of Cape Coast (See “Tension in Cape Coast Over Mills Library” Ghanaweb.com 7/29/13). Since the 2008 electoral season, the NDC has been promising to reconstruct and upgrade the historic Kotokuraba Market to a state-of-the-art architectural marvel. And then during last year’s presidential campaign, and in the shocking wake of the demise of President John Evans Atta-Mills, the then-Candidate Mahama paraded a gaggle of Chinese artisans and civil engineers at a durbar of the chiefs and people of Cape Coast and promised to expeditiously bring to fruition the project that had been lying idle for decades.
Now, barely a year after the passing of President Mills, under circumstances widely described as mysterious and shady, we learn to our predictable amusement, and annoyance, that the Kotokuraba Market Project has been conveniently abandoned by the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government in favor of “a two-story library complex in honor of the late President John Evans Fiifi Atta-Mills.”
Naturally, many in the Cape Coast municipality who have been studiously following the characteristic NDC touch-and-go development policy agenda are livid with anger. And they have a good reason to be angry, because there already exist two major libraries, namely, the Central Regional Library and the Metro Library, that are woefully under-equipped and in dire need of both physical and technological upgrading. And this is also the reason why the Mahama government’s most ardent critics have aptly described the ongoing construction of the Mills Memorial Library as a patent white elephant, and an inexcusable insult to the intelligence of the inhabitants of Cape Coast and, indeed, the Fante sub-nation at large.
What is quite disturbing about the entire affair is the fact that to the key operatives of the National Democratic Congress, it? clearly appears that “development” is what the Mahama posse whimsically claims the same to be, and not what the people of Cape Coast deem to be functionally sound and utile and socioeconomically and culturally progressive.
Indeed, even as I write (7/29/13), the Kotokuraba Market Project is reported to be stuck at the foundational level, that is exactly where it was nearly a year ago, in the wake of the passing of President Mills, when a tearful Mr. Mahama, in a passionate and theatrical appeal to the chiefs and people of Cape Coast to adopt the Gonja native as one of their own, the now-President John Dramani Mahama made his pontifical Kotokuraba Market Declaration. In a clearly divisive appeal to Cape Coasters to electorally ignore his main political oppponent, Mr. Mahama also claimed the Central Region to be the second-least developed region in the country. Predictably, the then-Candidate Mahama had conveniently omitted the fact that the government of his party had dominated the country’s political landscape for most of the period that Cape Coast, and the Central Region as a whole, had been callously and woefully neglected.
Now, some Cape Coasters are vowing to severely punish the Mahama posse at the polls. Alas, knowing what I have come to know about the “swing voters” of Cape Coast and, indeed, the Central Region as a whole, I am not holding my breath.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]