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Opinion | Mar 3, 2017

Words Reveal Thoughts; Political Will Gets The Thoughts Into Action

The job of a regional minister is no joke; especially in the Upper West Region where there’re various demands from party loyalists and other competing demands through lobbying from various districts.

On Monday February 27, 2017 the newly appointed Upper West Regional Minister, Mr. Suleman Alhassan was a guest on a current affairs programme, Common Course of Radio Upper West. On the show, Mr. Alhassan spoke on his vision for the region and how he will relate with party loyalists and the general public in the region.

Mr. Alhassan enumerated five priority areas: Education and Youth Development, Agriculture and Industrialisation; Health, Water and Sanitation; Roads, Transport and Tourism; and, Security. In dealing with party loyalists, he appealed to them to be patient and that each member of the party will have his or her needs met in the course of time. It’s said that, “a person’s word reveals his or her thoughts”.

The successful implementation of these priority areas deserves some political will, tactfulness and diplomacy. A pollster and political scientist, Craig Charney defines political will as: “the combination of three factors: opinion plus intensity plus salience”. As much as it’s the vision of the regional minister, what are the opinions of the people of the priority areas of the regional minister? Does it relate to what informed the regional minister’s priority areas?

Which of these priorities is most pressing? Which of these priorities are most important to the people on a scale of importance? Which district gets its fair share first? These are questions that the regional minister will have to deal with – it will define his political will. Will he be susceptible to lobbying, or he will be a master of his own principles and do as he deems fit, not treating his advisors or party loyalists with contempt.

For instance, in fighting crime will he kowtow to the cultural axiom – “tizaabunyeni” – meaning “we’re one”. A lot of crime and arbitrariness have gone unpunished because of this phrase.

Will Mr. Alhassan support to the hilt the full implementation of bye-laws and the Public Health Act against the brazen attitude of open defaecation in the Wa Municipality and the other ten districts of the Upper West Region?

When it comes to open defaecation the region has nothing to write home about. On February 21, a news report by a Ghana News Agency reporter, Philip Tengzu, states that, out of 1196 communities in the region only 324 communities have been declared open defaecation free. This represents less than 30% of the targeted communities. Beggars belief, isn’t it? But these are the issues on the ground.

Clientelism is another issue that bedevils our governance structures right from the district level through to the national level. The clientelist system maintains politics at an emotional level, where there is an expectation of a vote in return for a favour and this dilutes the possibility of social solidarity.

In the Upper West Region for instance, party loyalists expect that contracts of providing one service or another to the public should be given to them, sometimes even if they don’t have the requisite knowledge or equipment to provide that service. When the regional minister refuses to play ball, he suffers political bruises – a phenomenon Mr. Alhassan is very much aware of.

All said and done, Mr. Suleman Alhassan your words have revealed your thoughts; but, only your political will, will see your vision through.

The writer is a freelance journalist. [email protected]/[email protected]

ALEX BLEGE, © 2017

This author has authored 96 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: ALEXBLEGE

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