April 23, 2024 2:27 am

Michael Doe Dzade writes: Ghana’s 66th Independence celebration in the Volta region: ‘The Good’ and the ‘What ifs’

For the many reasons including what you know; a near collapsed economy, neglect and unavailability of essential vaccines among others are rudiment in the anger against this government from this side of the country. But all of a sudden, there seems to be 180° turn towards the government and all you can hear is “akpɛ na wo dukplor la Akufo-Addo” to wit, thank you president Akuffo Addo.

The theme for the 66th Independence anniversary, ‘Our Unity, Our Strength Our Purpose’ is indeed spot on but the mismanagement, corruption, nepotism and misplaced priority and disunity has weakened our strength and damage our purpose.

The regional rotation of independence celebration has diverse opinion and has its benefits and malefits. The admiration and goodwill President Akufo-Addo has canvassed over barely three weeks to the Independence Day celebration in Ho/Adaklu of the Volta region is epic but has its good and what ifs.

The Good

I asked few friends; don’t you still think independence celebration is a waste of resource? Quickly and sharp, I was rebuked and plethora of reasons were given. I smiled and in soliloquy, I couldn’t but agree. Sitting on the fence, analysis and judgment are different. I was one of the unyielding proponents for the cancellation of independence celebration, let alone rotation and my reasons are same as yours. But guess what, prior to the celebration, street lights were fixed within days, potholes were patched even during the night.

For once, we saw super engineers who laid blocks, did plastering and painting on the same day. Within a clap, every abnormality was fixed.
Take a look at some of the national installation in and around Ho. Beauty is seen and the real oxygen was begging for inhalation and this corroborated our name “The Oxygen City” Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) and the Residence are light up in ambiance depicting love for the nation. For once, filth was practically missing from the equation.

We discovered our identity and where we belong, eyes beheld the presence of Ghana fully in Ho. Ghana flags were hoisted on poles and story buildings craving the indulgence of all and sundry. Like a neglected person in a faraway land and suddenly his relatives arrive in all fleet of flashy car to the amusement of all, the people of Ho felt the sense of belonging. Taxis and tricycles displayed the red, gold, green and black stars to show the undying love for mother Ghana.

The venue, Regional Youth Resource Centre surprisingly was properly completed within a month after years of neglect. Undoubtedly it remains our asset but its use remains unknown so are its maintenance.

When was the last time you saw our revered and powerful kings across the length and breadth of the region under one umbrella? I personally felt goose bumps when I saw HRM Togbe Afede XIV, Togbui Sri III, Togbui Fiti among other host of powerful kings and chiefs. For once our differences were buried and Volta was on the ascending and placed on a higher pedestal.

The many people I spoke to, both middle aged and old could not hide their joy, and the children, it was a moment to see and feel the presence of Ghana that many think will not come again in very long years. On few occasions I had to join the kids and students to watch the choppers or helicopters flying over in so much blissfulness. The fleet cars by individuals and the security services were enough joy as people sat along the road just to have a feel. Minus television, many of us could only imagine, thanks to independence celebration.

The What If…

The Regional Youth Resource Center that had a record of one month completion after several years of neglect will be at the mercy of the weather. What if plans are made to renovate the Ho Sports Stadium instead or alongside? Remember the Ho stadium is begging for attention for years now.

Meanwhile, the Ho Stadium is used for league match every week aside people and organizations using there for regular activities which fetch money for the state. But the new stadium or resource centre is quite far from the township and may not readily serve a lot of purposes a such.

Business boomed, hotels were all booked throughout, restaurants and all joints had astronomical increase in all spheres but this is just for a moment. What substantial benefit is the Volta region getting at the end of the day? The many diplomats that trooped into the region, what business proposals were submitted to them by the regional minister and various MMDCEs for consideration? Can the VRCC boast of any business proposal on tourism, agro-business, IT, Telecommunication or areas yet to be explored? What is our business model as a region? Where do we have comparative advantage that needs support and attention?

Ho is growing and will soon turn into a cosmopolitan area. What are the plans to curb the menace that comes with it? How are we planning to tackle filth, issues of rising accommodation and on issues of service industry; we seem to have gone hiatus on these.

We boost by words about having over 50 potential sites in the region; how many of these sites did diplomats, quest and development agencies and partners visited as a result of the celebration in the region?

What if one says the celebration was confined to Ho despite chiefs across the region gracing the occasion? From the south to the north of Volta is characterised by distinct culture and variation in language aside the ambit of competition in all dimensions.

How well has the celebration done to integrate all areas? Well, there was cross sectional display of culture but is that all we can do? How well has the Anlos, Kpandos and Guans being integrated to have a feel of patriotism and belonging as felt by the people of Ho? Do we mean to say there are no schools in the northern and southern part of the region?

What if we had long weeks of celebration with personalities across the political divide, chiefdoms and culture attending programs spanning from the north to the south of the region and then climaxing it at the Regional Resource Centre? I am well convinced without any shred of doubt that the euphoria is not same in even the closest town to Ho and patriotism which is supposed to be the pivotal is zilch. 

Congratulations to my club Accra Heart of Oak for defending the trophy in the President’s Cup match against Asante Kotoko. But are they the only clubs in the country? I thought we are interested in grassroot soccer development. What if a tournament is organized in the host region of the independence celebration and the finals is played with the President as guest to present the trophy? This will help clubs in the region to have a feel of lifting the President’s cup.

Thanks to Adonai, Sky Plus, Volta Serene among other host of sponsors; what if a national planning committee alongside the local organizing committee pull resources together to rehabilitate a dilapidated structure of a school or library and named it as such as espoused by former chief justice Gloria Akuffo?

What if the next host region is announced as early as possible to have ample time and space for preparation and organization? One month for massive infrastructural works should not be encouraged. Our maintenance culture is bad, so if work must be done, it must be done well.

Even though I am a repented soul against the regional rotation per what I have seen, somewhat, I still stand by the former position. The fleet of state vehicles from Accra and other parts of the country to Ho will certainly burden the state financially. We can make the celebration modest so as not to incur the wrath of people and overspend.
If we decide to think about the effect of independence celebration as the basis for the rotation rather than the joy of the celebration, our gains may not only consolidate our effort, but will set the tone for new dimension on national development and unity.

Michael Doe Dzade

The writer, Michael Doe Dzade


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