By Peter M. Dzidza, Ph.D.
On the 24th of August 2019, delegates of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are going to the polls to elect their Parliamentary candidates for the various constituencies for the December 2020 general elections. Akatsi South, one of the deprived constituencies in the Volta region but remains a stronghold for the opposition NDC is obviously in the news as Mr William Kpormatsi, an astute business magnet and estate developer, Samuel B.K Nugblega, a Human Resource Practitioner and Hon. Godwin Asimenu, a teacher by profession, described by many as a grass root man have filed to challenge the incumbent member of Parliament Hon. Bernard Ahiafor.
The aims and objectives for the rush by these individuals to represent the people of Akatsi – South in parliament are unknown as they have not presented any manifesto to the general public. However, many people are wondering why Hon. Ahiafor is still in the race to be elected for the third time. Indeed, the good people of Akatsi – South are not ready to create another despot or Avenor Mugabe since they already have one to deal with. The question on the lips of many citizens is that: what is he coming to do in the next four years that he was unable to accomplish in the last eight years he was in parliament? Others indicated that his eight years tenure as MP of akatsi – South witnessed the disintegration of one-time solid NDC party into fragmentations where we currently have Adzaho camp and Ahiafor camp. A situation where people begin to wonder if he will be able to unite the party before the general election when he emerge victorious on 24th August.
The task ahead is huge as Akatsi – South remains one of the least developed constituencies in the Volta region. Historically, the problem of Akatsi – South is created by the politicians as they poorly implement government policies and programs aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor. The lackadaisical attitude of Akatsi – South politicians led to total marginalisation of the area. This led to the call by the chiefs and people from the area to separate Avenor- Ave from Ketu district leading to the passage of the L.I 1470 which established the Avenor – Ave District on 10th March 1989 with pomp and pageantry.
However, the joy and furore that characterised that celebration was short-lived as the founding fathers made up of chiefs and prominent citizens realised after twenty years that their hope for a better future and developed Avenor was a mirage. The politicians were quick to blame this unfortunate development on the vast and inaccessible nature of the area and called for division of the Avenor – Ave district into two constituencies hence the Akatsi – South and North which was inaugurated by the late President JEA Mills in 2012.
Clearly, lack of leadership and vision by the leaders, over the years have left Akatsi -South with many uncompleted and abandoned projects. For more than ten years, the Akatsi township library project remains incomplete whilst the market which serves as cash cow for the district remained under construction after more than fifteen years of its commissioning. In terms of electricity coverage, apart from the major towns, majority of the villages are without electricity.
One of the age-old problems of the people of Akatsi-south is lack of potable pipe borne water. It is therefore beyond human comprehension for constituencies with many rivers like Keta, Anlo and south Tongue, which share common boundaries with Akatsi South should have potable pipe borne water in their villages including Akutukope whilst Akatsi -south, located on the high grounds with no river should be without potable pipe borne water till date. The deplorable nature of the roads in the constituency cannot be overemphasised as some have developed gullies and manholes, making those villages to be cut-off during raining seasons and are metaphorically referred to as (overseas territories).
The district capital is no exception as roads were hurriedly constructed without planning. Drainages were left open causing havoc to pedestrians. Though the district capital has a planning officer, buildings are put up without permit making the district capital looks like a slum.
Currently, deprivation, squalor and abject poverty exist in the area. Over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture coupled with lack of employment opportunities to absorb the teaming youth has led to the emergence of crime in the constituency. To eke out a living, the youth in the area join forces with their counterparts in neighbouring countries, especially Nigeria, to embark on cross-border crime. The majority engage in cyber fraud referred to as ‘Sakawa.’ Many of these youth completed tertiary education but were unable to secure legitimate jobs. In the same vein, youth with second circle educational backgrounds monopolised the mobile phone fraud business sector referred to as ‘Scamming.’ With this method, they defraud thousands of unsuspecting customers of huge sums of money using the mobile phones device.
To keep body and soul together, most of the uneducated youth have embarked on the use of motorbikes as a taxi, otherwise known as ‘Okada’. Under this guise, they are noted for their physical attacks on customers. They maim, kill and rob their victims of their precious belongings. The rest of the unemployed youth team up with criminal gangs in the major cities like Ashaiman and Kumasi where they engage in armed robbery, turning Akatsi – South, once noted as the citadel of peace into the den of criminals. This was justified by statistics from the divisional police command which indicate a surge in crime, leaving individuals in the area under constant threat and fear, while the police throw up their hands in despair.
However, Akatsi South remains a strong hold of the opposition NDC, a political dynamic that would be difficult to reverse in the short term. As such, anyone who wins the parliamentary primary on the ticket of the NDC on 24th August is automatically the next Member of Parliament for the area.
Just as Jerusalem is to the Israelis, so also Akatsi South is to its citizens as they have no place to call home, making the development of Akatsi – South dear to the heart of its citizens. However, Akatsi – South remained the first district to break away from Ketu but the least developed district in the area, making the dream of the founding fathers a mirage.
As 24th August draws closer, we urge the NDC delegates to know that they are the king makers of Akatsi – South. As they go to the polls, it behoves on them to remember the poor and marginalised in society and rise above petty partisan consideration, cronyism, favouritism, nepotism and comradeship and look beyond their personal aggrandisement before casting their vote.
By Dr. Peter M. Dzidza.
Staffordshire University – UK