I have spent most of my adult life in the Ashanti region, where the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has over the years been seen as the saviour of the people.

It is common to hear people say “Me deɛ yɛwoo metoo party no mu nti sɛ me nua kɔgyina ma party foforɔ na sɛ apɔnkye gyina ma NPP a, mɛto ama aboa no,” which means that even if any of my siblings contest on another party’s ticket, I will still vote for the NPP even if it presents a goat as its candidate.

Out of the 47 constituencies in the Ashanti region, the NPP has a commanding lead in 43, with the NDC holding the other four (Asawase, Ejura-Sekyedumase, Sekyere Afram Plains and New Edubiase).

The primaries in the 43 constituencies are crucial as it is highly unlikely for an NPP candidate to lose in the general elections.

Although, Andrew Amoako Asiamah won the Fomena seat as an independent candidate, he is largely considered as an NPP member. In fact, he was a sitting NPP MP at the time of the election, for which reason he won. When the NPP lost the Ahafo Ano North seat in 2012 for instance, it was seen as a very big upset, as clearly, there were underlining factors as the party shortly reclaimed the seat.

Even in the 2016 general elections, NPP won the New Edubiase seat, which underscores the party’s dominance in the region.

It is almost impossible for the NPP to lose in its strongholds such as Suame, Subin, Manhyia North and South, Ejisu among others in the general elections.

The politicians clearly know this trend and thus know which areas to prioritize because they know how the people think. Based on observations over the years, politicians rather dedicate resources to swing regions where the people will not vote for them if their actions are not visible enough in their respective constituencies or regions. In the Ashanti region, they (politicians) will then attempt to dedicate some resources in the areas considered as the stronghold of the opposition such as Asawase, Ejura-Sekyedumase, Sekyere Afram Plains and New Edubiase, with the hope of winning those seats.

A constituent of Asawase that I engaged some months ago made a profound remark that, “We are perhaps among the fews areas given priority in the Ashanti region either under NPP or NDC since the NDC always wants to maintain this seat and the NPP tries to make efforts to develop this area in order to win the seat”. So I ask, what significant developments have been made even within the constituencies the NPP wants to win?

Clearly, for the areas largely known as the NPP strongholds, whatever “charm” that was used to convince them to be sympathetic towards the party has worked so well. For some of these party enthusiasts who mostly do not enjoy collective or direct benefits in any form, it appears they still will not even want to criticize the government constructively or seek accountability in any form.

I remember a few years ago when there was some sort of intermittent power supply under the Akufo-Addo government, I engaged some cold store operators at Asafo in Kumasi. Initially, they lamented about how the situation had affected them and their products had gone bad and as a result, they lost thousands of Ghana cedis. They were complaining bitterly. So, I asked my camera operator to get ready and I asked them if they were ready to say those things on record for us to use on TV. The first woman just exclaimed and said “Do you want us to say this so that the NPP government will look bad in the eyes of the public? At least there is free SHS for all and even if I’m making losses, I won’t say it, I will rather lose my capital than to make my government look bad”. I wasn’t surprised at all since it’s very common to hear such utterances in Kumasi.

In some parts of the Ashanti region, even when people are demonstrating over their poor road network and lack of health facilities which have led to loss of lives of their friends and relatives, example, their call will be “No road, No Vote”. They for instance say “If they don’t fix our roads, we are not voting for them and that means that we will won’t vote for any party at all”.

Interestingly, the politicians (both NPP and NDC) know this very well. They know how the people think. If the NDC even initiates a project in the region, it is not given the credit as expected and even if the NPP fails to embark on projects in the Ashanti region which is its stronghold, it doesn’t mean the residents will necessarily vote against them.

So, what’s the point?
Historically, the NDC government has been accused by inhabitants in the region of not prioritizing their development since the people “usually do not vote for the party”.

The erstwhile Mahama government made deliberate efforts to embark on some projects in the region, but it’s obvious that is not enough to convince the people to change their voting pattern.

Some inhabitants complain that the NDC has clearly not done enough to gain their trust since the party does not necessarily prioritize development in the region. The NPP on the other hand appears to abandon the region in most cases because the party virtually loses nothing if it doesn’t deliver on its promise to the good people of the Ashanti region.

It is as a result of this that the Ashanti region appears not to have seen a lot of development despite its high prospects.

Many promises were made by the Akufo-Addo led government to the people of the region about embarking on projects such as:

a. Constructing five interchanges in the Ashanti region. That obviously cannot happen within the two terms of the Akufo-Addo government. Even with the only one that there has been a commitment, government officials are now saying they cannot complete the Suame interchange before the end of Akufo-Addo’s second term.

b. Boankra Inland Port: Construction has now started and completion is far from close and many inhabitants fear it could be abandoned after the Akufo-Addo government leaves power. In fact, isn’t it amusing that a project that was initiated by the Kufuor government in the early 2000s didn’t have the NPP’s own government prioritizing it under the Akufo-Addo regime in the two terms and construction works are now commencing?

c. Mother and baby unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH): Work has currently been abandoned.

d. Phase two of the Kejetia Central Market redevelopment project: work currently abandoned.

e. Phase two and three of the Kumasi International Airport project: work has currently been abandoned

f. Poor road network in many areas in the region as people keep complaining.

g. Many areas continue to grapple with limited access to basic social amenities.

h. Many health projects by previous government(s) still not completed- Kumawu, Fomena, Afari, Sewua among other hospitals, with Tepa and Konongo hospitals having been completed. How far with the Agenda 111 projects? The Atwima Kwanwoma district hospital appears to be doing well but how about areas such as the Asokore Mampong District hospital where it doesn’t seem that there will be any light at the end of the tunnel any time soon, since there are no strong assurances as to when that project and others would be making headway?

As usual, residents in the Ashanti region are not “angry enough” and have refused to make the government account to them.

So, government cannot use the same energy it used in initiating projects in Kumawu to start similar projects in other parts of the region? Or just like how the road minister said that it wasn’t as a result of the by election, the government thinks many people cannot read in between the lines and know that it was all an attempt to help the party secure the seat? Why do politicians take electorates for granted like this?

Well, do inhabitants in the Ashanti region even know they have been taken for granted by their “own government” because they feel the party will virtually lose nothing since the people will not “punish” them even if they keep disappointing them?

Although the level of government’s developmental projects have been generally slow, when you travel to other areas particularly the swing regions, you are likely to see construction works actively going on day and night. So, government can get the funds to embark on projects in some areas but not its stronghold?

So, what will be the Akufo-Addo government’s greatest legacy in the region after his reign? What major project did he embark on from start to finish? Or should we as usual blame it on COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war?

When will the Ashanti Region have its fair share of the national cake and get the needed development?


Written by Edward Oppong Marfo. The author is Citi TV/Citi FM’s middle belt bureau chief. He is also a trained political scientist with MPhil in Political Science from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Source: citifmonline