IN Ghana today it is very dangerous for a Member of Parliament (MP) to restrict himself or herself to legislative work without launching himself into issues directly affecting the reduction of poverty and the overall development of his area.
Arguably, the first and foremost objective of an MP is to get re-elected and to do so one must get close to his constituents.
Consequently only egocentric MPs would fail to consider how to use the resources at their disposal, including state money handed to them, to improve their chances of re-election.
A glance at the work of legislators will reveal that it imposes a duty on them to change the development face of their constituencies better than they came to meet it.
In this country one of the insults hurled at our MPs by their constituents has been their inability to advance the development process of their constituencies.
It is against this background that the MP for Kwadaso, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has since his election barely two years ago placed the development of the constituency firmly on his agenda by giving a lot of attention to grassroots development.
Some believe that Kwadaso is not associated with poverty. That is a fallacy.
Kwadaso, one of the oldest communities in Kumasi, has got its own challenges in terms poverty and physical development.
Governments over the years have attempted to address the challenges but a lot more remains to be done.
The initiatives of the MP over the last two years have, however, gone a long way to bring some level of sanity into some of the sectors of development even though more is left to be done to get to the promise land.
One area that Dr Akoto has paid so much attention to is education.
It is a fact that without quality education the future of any community will remain bleak. In Kwadaso the low level of education in basic schools has been partly due to overcrowding in classrooms and the shift stem resulting from inadequate classrooms.
In some of the schools, there are about 100 pupils in a class, resulting in the shift system.
As a solution to the problem, the MP has embarked on a massive project to build more classrooms and rehabilitate dilapidated ones in all the 14 communities in the constituency.
A total of 18 new schoolblocks have been constructed by the MP in eight towns while eight blocks have been renovated, bringing the total to 26.
The schools that have benefited include Ohwimase Anglican School, Nyankerenease Methodist School, Kwadaso Prempeh Experimental School, Kwadaso M/A Primary and Apatrapa R.C. Junior High School.
The rest are Takyiman Presbyterian JHS, Nwamase L/A School and Amanfrom SDA JHS.
This intervention has considerably reduced the class sizes and ended the shift system in many schools.
To date, about GH¢300,000 has been spent on the projects with funds coming from contributions from the private sector, special donations by the Ministry of Education, the GETFund, the District Assemblies Common Fund and the MPs share of the Common Fund and the HIPC Fund.
Apart from physical infrastructure, Dr Akoto has also instituted a scholarship scheme for brilliant needy students in the constituency,using his share of the HIPC Fund.
A total of GH¢11,789 has been spent on 34 students in the junior secondary, senior secondary and the tertiary institutions.
Another special scholarship scheme that puts emphasis on female education is also in place.
Consequently 33 young women are training in various trades, including hairdressing, dressmaking, food and catering and batik making at the Methodist Women’s Training Centre at Kwadaso.
A sound environment plays a key part in sound living. It is in this regard that Dr Akoto has committed himself to environmental issues by launching a major initiative, perhaps unprecedented in Parliamentary practice.
The initiative involves the planting of 10,000 teak seedlings each year on school compounds in the constituency. To date, 21,300 seedlings have been planted.
Under the project schoolchildren are made to plant and nurture two or three seedlings each until the seedlings are well grown.
The objective of the exercise is to instil in the children the value of tree planting so that they grow up with it.
In addition to the regeneration of greenery in the area in the midst of rapid urbanisation, the project will also become a major source of income for future investment in education as the schools are expected to sell the trees and use the proceeds to undertake development projects.
Other areas that the MP has involved himself in include construction of toilet facilities, streetlights, bridges,culverts, roads and health facilities.
These are all important steps to make life a bit comfortable for the people but the MP should be the first to admit that there is still some distance to cover in terms of development.
Indeed, as he told this writer, “I am aware of the challenges and will work in concert with my constituents devoid of party politics to get to the destination.”