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18.11.2019 Feature Article

Volta Region’s Omission From New Road Budget: An Old Persian Myth?

Volta Region’s Omission From New Road Budget: An Old Persian Myth?

In the Book l of the Histories, Herodotus captures an interesting view about Persian politicians and how their behaviours and values contrast with those of the Greeks:

Of nations, they honour most their nearest neighbours, whom they esteem next to themselves; those who live beyond these they honour in the second degree; and so with the remainder, the further they are removed, the less the esteem in which they hold them. The reason is that they look upon themselves as very greatly superior in all respects to the rest of mankind.

The above fascinating story on politicians in Persia offers a tale that runs at par with how the twenty-first-century politicians treat or mistreat the masses. It reveals how Persians foreign policy played into current governance practices of African leaders by ensuring their immediate followers always get priorities over others.

In Ghana the story isn’t different; the Persian model reigns supreme. Roughly speaking, we seem to embrace a political ritual where politicians deliberately hand over top positions, first, to their family members and friends, next, to their core supporters, and lastly to the remainder of the citizens.

Often times, region-specific allocations are done in a like manner. Personally, as someone who appreciates ethical politics I find the longitudinal practice to be divisive because of how it hinders governments in their balanced development distribution efforts in the country.

To give you an idea, nowadays road has turned into a hot political issue in Ghana and citizens are demanding access to good roads as their right. And because most of the roads are in deplorable states, more and more people are embarking on demonstrations and also threatening boycotts in the 2020 national election.

Unfortunately, recent happening in the nation’s Parliament where the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, in presenting the 2020 Budget to the house had failed to include Volta region in the road budget. And this has sparked widespread condemnation among many Ghanaians.

To be fair enough, while sections of the public including some minority members from the country’s legislature believed the omission was deliberate, the exclusion of Volta region raises questions about political omissions, and whether they can constitute intended actions or not. At this point, contrary to the Persian model, I argue that, the omission found in the budget is undeliberate but on the surface, and that remote consideration possibly play a role, including the region that suffered.

Interestingly, it seems to me that there’s a direct intersection between party colouration and the omission suffered by the Volta region in 2020 budget. How come among the sixteen regions in the country, only Volta region’s name was forgotten in the budgetary allocation meant for next year’s critical road projects?

Although the government has admitted the error and offered an apology to the region, I think there were still issues that were left undisclosed at the time government spokespersons were rendering their apologies. As such, any attempt to dig further would lead as to other complexities regarding the matter.

It must be explained that sometimes the credibility of voters determines the kind of value a winning party places on them after elections. Therefore, any region that appears to have a political party’s best interest in mind by sharing and affirming its agenda would obviously become the nearest neighbour.

Surprisingly, whatever our opinions are, I think the New Patriotic Party (NPP) isn’t alone in gifting political privileges to its nearest neighbours. Probably, if we would wait and ponder over what happened carefully, we’ll discover that Voltarians’ known animosity towards the ruling government in elections - whether intentional or unintentional - is enough for people in government to apply “revenge” tactics against them for not contributing enough to the party’s electoral success in the past.

That notwithstanding, why’ll Volta region bother when the same region was opportune to have some of its indigenes appointed as road ministers in the previous government, but they contributed little in fixing their roads, and by so doing failing the region big time? To be honest, the omission on page 60 of the 2020 budget doesn’t surprise me a bit, because it has more to do with the government’s perception of Volta as a remainder region that must be kept at a distance in the resource allocation network.

While it resides within those framing the budget to identify areas of challenge and allocate resources in a useful, balanced, and sustainable manner, I am tempted to perceive that crying foul over the non-inclusion of a region is immaterial because, mostly, the enshrined items never materialized since no government has ever achieved in all those areas enumerated in the budget before.

Come to think of it, supposing the name deletion was a mistake, I wonder why anybody in government would commit such an elephantine error, more especially when they tend to think of themselves as more competent and more destined to lead the rest of us. Certainly, skipping Volta, one of the well-known disadvantaged regions with kilometres of critical roads, by a regime that is boastful of competent men simply tells you is that, "the more you read and observe about this Politics thing,” says Will Rogers (1924), “you got to admit that each party is worse than the other."

So, I have no doubt in my mind that the kind of political culture which Voltarians tend to embrace - the seeming inertia towards the NPP - is what has reflected back to them. But, before anybody claims innocence, let this sink in those belonging to political parties that the more they may want to hit the ‘revenge’ spots of regions instead of supporting them, the more its people would disregard them and find them less credible.

Komla Lokoe
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Komla Lokoe
Komla Lokoe, © 2019

The author has 6 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KomlaLokoe

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