THE Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Kofi Opoku-Manu, has expressed optimism that the region will see accelerated development under the four years rule of the NDC government.
“I am an Ashanti and I know that Ashantis always look for development no matter the government in power and I will count on this to deliver,” he told the Daily Graphic.
“I have been assured by no less a person than the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, that he and the people will give me all the support to deliver and I am happy about this, “ the regional minister said.
From his demeanour, one could easily deduce that Mr Opoku-Manu was poised to court the support of the people to prove a point in his administration.
On the outside, many believe that the regional minister would have difficulties working in the strongest opposition camp—Ashanti Region.
But that is not the case as Mr Opoku-Manu says Ashantis are not opposed to his administration. Successive regional ministers have enjoyed working in the region. In fact, two regional ministers in the first NDC administration, Messrs Kojo Yankah and Nuamah Donkor, were held in high esteem in Kumasi.
The two regional ministers were said to have performed creditably and up to today, people mention their good names.
Mr Opoku-Manu admitted that there was a lot more to do to bring the development of the region to acceptable standards.
With the growing population, especially in Kumasi, pressure will surely be on the regional minister to devise strategies that could meet the challenges ahead. The demographic characteristics of the region shows that the Kumasi metropolis alone accounts for nearly one-third of the region’s population.
Slightly over half of the population of the region (51.5 per cent) is in four districts while more than half of the population in the region resides in urban areas.
The high level of urbanisation in the region is due mainly to the high concentration of the population in the Kumasi metropolis.
Males outnumber females in 11 districts. The age structure of the population in the districts is skewed towards the youth. The dependent population in the districts is high, ranging from 42.2 per cent in the Kumasi metropolis to 57.3 per cent in the Ahafo Ano South District.
Some of the challenges that the regional minister faces are in agriculture, education, health, sanitation and job creation. Agriculture has remained the mainstay of the region and a government that wants to succeed must take particular interest in that sector.
The subsistence type of agriculture still remains and the time has come for the government to take a second look at the situation if the people could take on agriculture as a commercial venture.
Mr Opoku-Manu is aware of the situation and has stated that his administration would focus seriously on agricultural development so that it would prevent the youth from drifting to the urban centres for non-existent jobs.
In the area of education, there is more to do. For instance, the education needs serious attention while more teachers are needed in the rural areas. The regional minister can only move to get the district assemblies to attach special attention to those areas.
The government promised to give sanitation the maximum attention and even though some effort has so far been made, there is still a lot to do.
In Ashanti Region, Kumasi is the major problem . The incoming metropolitan chief executive will have to work hard to get things moving.
These and many other challenges should signal the regional minister that, he would have to work extra hard to meet the expectations of the people even as he has the support of the people.