Sat, 13 Apr 2024 Article

Mahama’s proposal to split the Ministry of Youth and Sports is a game changer

By Nana Kofi Akantoa
Mahamas proposal to split the Ministry of Youth and Sports is a game changer

I had expressed skepticism about the need for political parties to have manifestos in Africa and other developing democracies because of the relatively low literacy rates and the lack of accountability by political parties when they flout their own manifestos to the electorates in these countries.

To many African countries, manifestoes have only become a periodical ritual that is carefully and strategically crafted by Political parties to sway the electorates to vote for them without any intention of actualizing any of the manifesto promises. Politicians have always gotten away with this because the democratic dispensation does not have such strong institutions with the capacity to hold politicians accountable.

We have therefore gotten to a point where visionary leaders are required to redefine our Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) strategically to meet our targeted Objectives to propel our socio-economic development agenda into action.

Recently, the Visionary Leader- Former President Mahama while inaugurating the Youth Wing of the NDC (on the 29th of March 2024), indicated his plan to split the Ministry of Youth and Sports when given the nod in December. While this proposal is yet to be translated into a plank in the NDC’s manifesto, I strongly believe that this is not just an idea but yet another Game Changer being introduced by JDM-the Visionary Leader which the Leadership of the NDC will not hesitate to make it a manifesto plank because it is a classic example of a concrete political program to meet the challenges afflicting the country’s youth head-on.

The Youth of Ghana must embrace JDM’s idea due to the following reasons: The youth under john Mahama will have a direct attention from government to get their talents and skills development faster. There will be budgetary allocation to support youth activities and the Ministry will also provide the youth with a platform to be able to channel all their problems and challenges swiftly.

Africa is a young continent in terms of its population composition compared to its counterparts in the developed world. Consider the following facts about the youth in Africa. About 40 percent of the continent’s population is under 15 years of age, while nearly 70 percent of the population is under 30 years. Meanwhile, in some African countries, about three-quarters (75%) of the population is under 30 years old, while a large share of the 15-29-year-olds will persist for decades, according to the World Bank.

In fact, according to the 2021 Ghana Population and Housing Census, the youth population in the country represents about 40% of the total population, and this youth bulge is growing at an alarming rate. As a result of the predominance of youth in Africa’s populations, they have become the focus of many an electioneering campaign by political parties as these parties’ jockey to capture the attention of the expanding youth generation.

The political parties have been trying to woo the youth vote through various promises which often, tend to be mere propaganda because these promises are made without any concrete programs to address the concerns of the youth. Specifically, despite the promises made by President Akuffo-Addo to create jobs for the youth” and that his administration would pay attention to the challenges faced by the youth”, the jury is still out on the party’s achievements in this domain.

The creation of both the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and the Ministry of Employment has woefully failed to address problems such as youth employment, in fact, the problem is worse (14.7% by GSS -25feb,2024) today than when he made those promises (5.11% 2016-Gss). There is very little doubt about the fact that one of the impediments as far as addressing youth concerns is the fact that there is lack of systematic efforts to focus on the youth through such deliberate policy interventions such as the creation of a specific Ministry to attend to the problems confronted by the youth.

The coupling of youth and sports outfits like the current Ministry of Youth and Sports without a doubt, creates a complete disconnect between the multiplicity of problems saddling our youth and the solutions to those problems that the youth are anticipating for in the country. Specifically, it implies that adolescent and youth development is a one-dimensional problem, namely, sports.

One of the logical outcomes of this limited definition of youth development is the current proliferation of the construction of Astro Turfs around the country by MPs and other government officials. In the meantime, this lack of a ‘holistic approach’ to youth development has led to a visible escalation in such problems as youth unemployment, youth crime, and the predictable recurrence of trans-continental youth migration in recent months.

This is why the youth of this country must rise to the occasion to heartily embrace John Mahama’s 2nd Game Changer (The Creation of Youth Ministry Idea) as a timely intervention to tackle matters affecting the youth of Ghana head-on with the creation of a Youth Ministry idea. In conclusion, while the increasing youth population may represent a real dividend, the lack of concomitant access to quality education and labor market entry may represent serious social and political unrest in the country in the run-up to the 2024 elections in the country,

(The writer, Nana Kofi Akantoa, is a former Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department and currently the Amankorahene of Chiraa in the Bono region)