Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, As you may well be aware, I have started with my campaign for elections. Things are heating up and I am not taking any chances at all. The campaign has so far taken me to the Central and Western Regions.
To be honest with you, I am ashamed by what I saw in the Western Region. I am compelled to comment on the lack of development in the Western Region (and its retrogression) because my tour there coincided with the celebration of their 'homecoming' summit. It was an event for the sons and daughters of the region to take stock of the current state of the area and commit themselves to help change things. I can tell you that it's been such a painful stock-taking process for them, and even for me.
The current state of the Western Region is a tragic reflection of the painful retrogression our country has suffered over the past four decades. As I passed through Sekondi (the elder twin of the Twin City), I felt dismay at the desolation there. Sekondi (a once vibrant, commercially active city) is now ghost town. The buildings are falling apart. The best streets in the centre of town are full of potholes and those in the other parts are every driver's nightmare. Even the road to the regional administration, that is the 'Castle' of the West, are so bad. In Sekondi, commerce has been reduced to the sale of fish and other foodstuff. Businesses have moved offices from Sekondi to Takoradi (the younger twin), which itself is not doing any better. And come to think of it, Sekondi was once the nerve centre of the whole of the Western Region. If Sekondi is doing so badly, I will like you to just imagine how the rest of the region is faring. Apart from Takoradi, which seems to be thriving with some few new businesses and a vibrant market centre, much of the Western region is everything to be ashamed of. Even in Takoradi itself, the harbour, the first to be built in the country, is not doing as well as it should. One service the harbour is providing very well is to serve as an exit point for frustrated but ambitious young people to stow away in search of better opportunities. But the story of the harbour is for another day. For now I am on the Western Region in general.
As I traveled through the Western Region, I noticed that the road network in this part of the country is so poor and out of shape that one can only wonder how our vital raw materials from that part of the country get to the harbours for export. I traveled on one road and at the end of the journey my 'jonku' was in disarray. When I got out of the car to stretch my limbs, I was shocked by what I saw. Every car in my convoy seemed to have been soaked in dust, not even my bulletproof car was spared. There and then, I decided that my car should not only be bulletproof, it must be dustproof as well. I sympathized with the people of the region for providing so much for our country and getting so little in return. Wherever I made a stopover in the Western Region, people kept asking for new roads and, as usual, places of convenience. All their demands were often prefixed by monologues about how the Western region provides the country with gold, bauxite, timber, cocoa and a rich human resource. I sympathize and empathize with the people of the Western Region. The neglect of the area is very regrettable. But they should rest assured that they are not alone. Our whole country has been turned into one desolate landmass. The national cake has not be shared very well. Bandits, who parade around as politicians who have the interest of the nation at heart, have often pounced on the little we have and shared it among their kith and kin. Development takes place only in the pockets of the people who shout their voices hoarse, singing the praises of the political elite.
I have been touched so much by the neglect of the Western Region that I have decided that it is time for the national cake to be shared equitably among all the citizens of Sikaman from North to South, East to West. Politicians must stop pretending to be constructing roads and embarking on 'development projects' only when elections are drawing near. I may not stop it but future politicians must bear in mind that the people are growing increasingly tired of these 'campaign gimmicks'.
Having said that, I must commend the people of the Western Region for deciding to come together to brainstorm on the developmental challenges confronting their region. It's good for the people to take their destinies into their own hands and the initiative by the Westerners is laudable. I hope that the summit makes a meaningful impact on the region. I hope it does not turn out to be just another talk shop, where politicians create opportunity for people open their mouths too wide to make suggestions they (the decision makers) have no intention of implementing. I will like the other regions to follow suit and do as the Westerners have done. Whining about your problems is not enough – and I hate people who only come to me with problems. I like 'solutions people' and the Westerners have shown that they are in this category. Others must emulate.
J. A. Fukuor