The Reader’s Hub warmly welcomes you to its weekly most interactive, insightful and intellectually stimulating Social Media Monk session. Tonight, we are delighted to host one of our ardent readers, Ananpansah A.Abraham who will take us into a thematic concern of national relevance.
Tonight on the Readers’ Hub Social Media Monk session, our guest is a teacher by profession and a trained Community Radio Youth Advocate and presenter. He is currently the Assemblyman for the Canteen Electoral Area, Damongo.He is the Founder and Speaker of the Damongo Youth Parliament.
He holds a BSC Degree in Public Administration from the University of Ghana and currently pursuing a Master of Science (MSC) degree in Oil and Gas Resource Management from the University of Cape Coast. He hopes to be done with that come April, 2021.
Before the carving out of the Savannah Region, he was the Ghanaweb Correspondent for the entire Northern Region from 2015 till when the Savannah Region was created.
He currently writes for Ghanaweb, modernghana among other notable websites. He is also a political and youth development programmes host at PAD FM in Damongo. Our guest has over 200 publications to his credit.
Please stay tuned as he takes us through a plethora of questions carefully woven by our Production team on the thematic concern held supra.
Bassing: Please sir, you are most welcome to the Readers’ Hub Social Media Monk session tonight
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Kind regards boss! Glad to be here.
Bassing: The Readers’ Hub is most grateful for your time.
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Happy to note that.
Bassing: For a start, kindly help Readers to understand the keywords in the above topic: POLITICS, YOUTH and DEVELOPMENT.
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Joy is to the world for a child is born. In the spirit of Christmas and anticipation of a fulfilling New Year, I wish to extend warm salutations to respected senior compatriots on this cherished platform. Thanks to our hardworking administrators for holding the fort.
As an ardent follower of this session on this unique platform, Readers’ Hub, I feel gracefully honored to be hosted today to share my little perspective on youth related issues, politics and development.
Let me say that, I enjoyed every bit of presentation by previous panelist on this platform and hope they have set the tone enough for me to also meet your expectations. I just hope so.
I can’t pretend to hold repository knowledge about the areas to be discussed, but I believe somebody that has worked keenly with the youth at the community level since 2014, I can share practical perspectives that would spice up the youth conversation.
God bless this day and hope you enjoy the session.
Politics explained: Political scientist have in numerous ways attempted to define politics in ways that project all political activity and behavior.
Some see politics as the art of the impossible; which means politicians must possess a certain level of skill to discharge their responsibilities to the satisfaction of electorates. Others think politics is the struggle for power. Harold Laswell, the famous political scientist would have us believe that politics is all about who gets what, when and how?
In all this, a layman like me would simply envision politics as the capture, consolidation and use of state power. Thus the difference between say a political leader and a religious leader is the use of session.
Youth Defined: The African Youth Charter adopted at the seventh ordinary session of the Assembly of heads of state and Government of African Union in Banjul,Gambia,in July 2006,defines the youth as, “a person between the age of 15 and 34 years”.
Youth ordinarily can be understood as a state of mind. Functionally, youth describes the transition period between the social categories of childhood and adulthood. Culturally, the definition youth relates to the role an individual play in any given social context. And finally, youth is who you say and think you are! Simple!
Development explained: The term development became popular owing to the economic and technical assistance programmes initiated by the United Nation and United States aimed at raising the standard of living and improving the social and political conditions of developing countries. (Other associated terms are; underdeveloped, develop and developing countries).This is the reason some development administrators believe the problem with Africa’s’ underdevelopment is definitional and not real.
Development in contemporal times however, is a widely participatory process of directed social change in a society, intended to bring about both social and material advancement (including greater equality, freedom and other valued qualities) for the majority of the people through their gaining greater control over their environment (Singhal and Rogers,1990).
Development in any particular nation, therefore, consists of a synergy of development goals like promoting literacy, improving health and nutrition, limiting family size or increasing productivity.
We generally have the human aspect of development and the economic aspect.
- Economic development is the process whereby low income national economies are transformed into modern industrialized economies. Related to economic development and usually confused with it, is economic growth. Economic growth is the process by which a nation’s wealth increases over time (Rise and fall of national income. Expanding peoples’ choices).
2.Human Development according to the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) is about creating an enabling environment in which people can develop their full potentials and lead productive and creative lives in accordance with their needs and interest.(People are the real wealth of nations).
Bassing: This is more like a lecture room. The Readers’ Hub never disappoints. In the same development, is there any symbiotic relationship between politics and youth development?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: I understand symbiotic relationship to mean cooperative or interdependent relationship as in mutualism, parasitism and commensalism. I would take it from the point of mutualism; as to whether politics really promote youth development in a mutually inclusive manner.
The youth give more than they take or get from the political system. They sometimes even fight one another and sacrifice their lives in a bid to see their parties assume the reins of power, but are soon forgotten afterwards. The problem is even viler at the grassroots level.
You will bear with me that, the about seven people that lost their lives in the just ended 2020 polls are all youth. The man who lost his eyes and later died after the “Let My Vote Count demonstration among a host of them. So, the relationship is more or less parasitic.
Worse still, the older folks largely render today’s youth “nolle prosequi” in pursuing our dreams and vision. We are constantly being employed by unscrupulous politicians and reduced as tools and stooges and subjected to selfish political tricks, emasculations and manipulations. It can also be said that today’s youth are used as means to an end defined by the whims of selfishly corrupt leaders instead being seen as necessary partners in development.
In 2014, I was proud to be part of the Ghanaian team that mooted the idea about the Ghana Youth Manifesto under the Youth Empowerment Synergy. The virtual launch of the youth manifesto was held. From the youth manifesto, you can clearly tell that even though the youth are willing and capable, their vulnerability within the political system defined by lack of clear policy guideline is the major challenge.
We are only relevant during political campaign seasons. Youth within our political system are not been given the chance to develop their capacities and potentials as imperatives of democratization and a vision of a preferred future.
Policies formulated within the political system to promote youth employment and empowerment is essentially dysfunctional and propaganda tools in the 21st century. So there is a disconnect in the relationship.
Bassing: This brings us to the next question. With reference to Ghana, how instrumental is the participation of youth in the politics of a country, in the country’s quest for achieving good governance and national development?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Participation of youth in politics is very instrumental in achieving good governance and national development. Over the period, there is growing attention to the importance of involving young people as actors in their own right throughout the stages and process of national development.
Slowly but surely, stakeholders are now realizing investing in youth and involving them in decision making means a commitment not only to their improved well-being and livelihoods but also to the economic, social and cultural development of future generations and failure to make such an investment can result in steep social cost and bad governance.
Participation is part of the process of empowerment of young people. Involving young people in the home, school and the community will not only benefit our socio-economic environment but also our own capacity and personal development. Many youth do not see a connection between politics and their daily realities.
This does not however mean they are not interested in their future. A process of building trust must be initiated where young people have increased access to the decision making process. They can then emerge from such exposure with increased self-esteem, better communication skills and better knowledge about their communities and effective leadership.
Such opportunities are likely to arise in Community-level activities and youth are more likely to flourish within an institutional framework of representative government. Thus, one element of decentralization of government and a deepening of democracy.
The ideas, imagination, energy, vim and verve of the youth are vital for the continuing development of societies in which they live. To achieve good governance, youth at every point in time must be given the chance to articulate their concerns which can inform policy.
Bassing: Available records have shown that by 2035, Africa’s labour force will be larger than that of China and will account for ¼ of the world’s labour force. What are the possible repercussions for Africa, juxtaposing it with the dynamics and implications of Ghana’s growing youth population for our national politics and national development?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: The figures can mean a lot. The implications are both positive and negative depending on how you look at it or approach it:(See an article I wrote somewhere 2014 in commemoration of International Youth Day Celebration as first reference: this was when I was very active in article writing that won me the chance to correspond for Ghanaweb in the entire Northern Ghana from 2015 thereon. Now I’m more into writing stories).https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Supersizing-African-youth-population-a-blessing-or-a-disguise-395044.
Governments’ both past and present are not really seeing this numbers and what they actually mean for national development. This is evident in the dysfunctional or no policy guideline for youth development. These numbers can translate to social misfits or nuisance in society or rich labour force to propel national development.
It’s estimated that by 2035, Africa’s labour force would be larger than China.So the question is, how are we taken advantage of these numbers in the light of the rising youth unemployment?
According to statistics from the 2012 Mo Ibrahim Forum, youth unemployment increases with educational level in Africa. Young Africans are more literate than their parents, but more unemployed. In excess of 250,000 young people enter the labour market annually, but only 50,000(2%) get employed in the formal sector.
Agriculture which should have been absorbing majority of this youth has been reduced to a poor and dirty man’s job, making it highly unattractive to the youth. In rural areas, for instance,53% of occupied rural youth are not into agriculture, but engaged in other activities. Less than 2% of African youth are studying agric.
The political system is the worst enemy of this teaming numbers. Selfish politicians employ youth of today and subject them to tricks and manipulation without providing them an opportunity to develop their potentials.
In the midst of the challenging lacunas and the seemingly negative unfavorable legacy, I am overly convinced as an advocate for the youth that the time is just right and the time is now to spark a revolutionary change. I feel a positive vibration of change across Africa through the youth.
Our numbers must not scare us. It should rather hint us that the dependency ratio on the continent will soon reduce with increasing labour force. Indeed; youth is the spirit of adventure and awakening. It is the time of physical emerging.
Let’s begin changing our mindset in order to defeat mental slavery and pave the way forward for the continent to flourish.(Cogito ergo sum-I think therefore I am).Our governments’ must be genuine in formulating policies directed at youth development. Transforming the NYE office to NYA is a step in the right direction. The NYA’s decision to implement youth parliament across the various districts in Ghana is a step in the right direction as well.
I’m proud to say I pioneered the creation of the youth parliament concept in Damongo somewhere in 2014, long before the National Youth Authority even thought about the idea. This was during my 3 year youth, Community radio and advocacy project with DW Akademie, Germany. I was privileged to be selected to represent the entire Gonjaland, now Savannah Region to implement this project…
Through that I was elected and still remain the Secretary of the Ghana Branch of the World Community Radio Broadcasters Association (AMACC-Ghana).
We were the only people to think about and implement the idea of a youth parliament out of the over 15 reps.https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Supersizing-African-youth-population-a-blessing-or-a-disguise-395044.
Bassing: This is most impressive and intellectually stimulating. From your submissions thus far; are there some Youth Development policies in Ghana and how strategic have they been crafted to ensure the youth are properly and adequately groomed to be responsible future leaders and servants of our country, Ghana?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Thank you very much. My simple answer would have been a NO for a peculiar reason. But the politicians pretend to be trying a bit for the youth. So let me say a small yes and let’s trace the history.
In 2009, three years after its launch, the African Youth Charter (AYC) urged member states to endorse and adopt the charter, and develop and implement national policy for the youth. In Ghana for instance; it was unclear whether the country had a national youth policy in place.
Ghana officially launched its national youth policy on August 12, 2010, as part of International Day Celebration endorsed by UN general assembly. But since then, no significant change has been seen or felt. In fact, government programmes to promote empowerment are merely for the votes.
Efforts at both the international and regional levels towards youth development and empowerment have been complemented at the national levels through locally crafted national policies. Ghana’s effort at developing the competencies, skills and character of the youth is not a recent phenomenon. However, it was in the post-independence era that the Convention People’s Party (CPP) under the leadership of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah changed the way the youth was organized in the Ghana.
In the 1960s, the Ghana Young Pioneers was formed in 1960 to instill discipline and patriotism in the youth (Hodge, 1964; Assimeng, 1999). The Ghana Youth Pioneers (GYP) which had their roots in the schools where categorized into four groups: age four to six was called African Personality; age eight to sixteen, the
Young Pioneers; age seventeen to twenty, the Kwame Nkrumah Youth; and from
age twenty-one to twenty-five, the Young Party League.
The Young Pioneers provided the space for the training of the youth to take up political roles in the country (Assimeng, 1999). Although the Young Pioneer Movement did very well in inculcating in the youth the idea of patriotism, it was heavily criticized for the indoctrination of the youth. The idea of placing all youth groups under one movement led to the near obliteration of church youth groups and youth voluntary associations that had pre-dated the Ghana Young Pioneer.
The overthrow of the Nkrumah’s government and the abandonment of the Young Pioneers called for new strategies to address socio-economic challenges facing the youth. Increased unemployment and acts of indiscipline among the youth were the main reasons for the introduction of the National Service Corps (NSC) by the Busia government in 1969. The NSC was to provide students in the schools, colleges and universities opportunity to offer voluntary service2.It was also meant to reduce the high incidence of unemployment in the country (Akyea, 1970a). The National Service Corps, together with the Voluntary Work Camps Association and the Ghana Youth Council carried out a number of projects including construction works and farming.
To further strengthen the position of government in youth development, the Ministry for Youth and Rural Development, Distance Education Programme for Youth development in collaboration with the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Africa Centre, was introduced at the Institute of Adult Education, (now Institute of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana. The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 1 2003-2005) and its successor, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II 2006-2009) paid attention to poverty reduction and human Resource development of the youth.
To address the issue of youth unemployment, the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) was established under the Ministry of Manpower Development, Youth and Employment. The target was to create half a million jobs in 3 years (2006 – 2009). Funding was to come from the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Road Fund, Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and percentage of the service and investment from 2006 estimates of MDAs to support the implementation of the NYEP (Republic of Ghana 2006). In 2008, a total of 107,114 youth were engaged under the NYEP (NDPC, 2010).
In spite of the significant achievements of the NPP government, one of the policy failures of the government was its inability to launch a new national youth policy to replace the 1999 draft National Youth Policy. Although several statements issued by the government indicated that considerable progress had been made towards formulating a new National Youth Policy to meet the aspirations of the youth.
The NYEP is now an authority: National Youth Authority. So the policies are plausible and shining like the many laws of our country though I may disagree they are strategic, but what has been the change? Are we satisfied with the change thus far?
Bassing: The above submissions notwithstanding, it had been observed that regrettably, the actions of most youth in the body polity of Ghana are unfortunate and condemnable, to say the least. Most of us have become the hirelings and lackeys of the key political actors to perpetrate crimes in the country, especially during elections. What do you suggest needs to be done to ameliorate the situation?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Four point agenda:
- 21st century alignment or education, not that of the 20th century.
- Empowerment as the devil, as crooked as he or she may be, always engage the idle hands. Let’s empower the youth to overpower self-seeking politicians.
- Poverty reduction. For lack of money, the youth would fall for anything. If the standard of living of the youth is improved they would get engaged in the beneficial aspect of life and will have no time for the gun.
- Responsible leadership on the part of the ruling class.
I can tell you, the youth are vulnerable. As an Assemblymen, I’ve followers and I tell you, when you tell them to attack an opponent they will gladly do it. Just like Nicollo Machiavelli would have us believe that the intelligence of a leader is defined by the people around him. The vice versa can also be true. Followers reflect the leader.
Bassing: Kindly permit me to take you back within the context of the African Youth Charter. What does the African Youth Charter say about youth development, and what has been the story in the context of the Ghanaian youth development situation?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: As said earlier, in 2009, three years after its launch, the African Youth Charter (AYC) urged member states to endorse and adopt the charter, and develop and implement national policy for the youth. In Ghana for instance, it was unclear whether the country had a national youth policy in place.
Ghana officially launched its national youth policy on August 12, 2010, as part of International Day Celebration endorsed by UN general assembly. But since then, no significant change has been seen or felt. In fact, government programmes to promote empowerment are merely for the votes.
The conversation of the National Youth Employment Office to National Youth Authority in recent times is a step in the right direction, since it helps in delinking the body from political influence and manipulations.
It’s now up to the authority to become more functional in formulating youth related policies that reflects the vision, wishes and aspirations of the youth. Its presence must be felt everywhere in the country.
Bassing: What pragmatic policy pathways can Ghana pursue to effectively harness the best talents and potentials of her youthful population to stimulate accelerated national development?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: We may just have to effectively implement the existence policies geared towards youth employment, increasing the literacy level of the youth, entrepreneurship and skill acquisition among others. I think it’s high time the youth awake and demand for the creation of a ministry in charge of youth development.
This must be immediate. The national youth authority must strengthen the existing youth parliament concept to become an avenue for the youth to demand inclusion in decision making. The distance learning program can do a lot to increase the literacy level of the youth. So we just need to effectively implement the 1001 policies in place.
The Ghana Youth Manifesto which I was proud to contribute to the drafting captures every bit about the desires of the youth and can be adopted by government and implement. If we do 30% of that document, all the problems of the youth shall be overturned. It would be useless to keep rolling policies without teeth to bite.
Bassing: What are the key challenges do Ghanaian youth encounter in our quest to effectively participate in national politics and national development?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: The biggest problem the youth of today is unemployment which can impede us from participating in politics and its twin, development. As said earlier on, the youth constitutes the highest population in Africa, and they are the most vulnerable, less privileged, and unattended to in society. Many young people have become victims of negativity and unproductiveness because they are neither schooling nor engaging in economic activities. There is a common saying: “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” No one does politics in today’s society without resources.
Also, the lack of opportunities to run for political positions. Young people’s dreams of actually influencing policies are stifled because of the many restrictions placed on us by various factors including our very own constitutions. The effects of this can be seen in the kind of policies made by older politicians who don’t favor the youth, but rather the old and elite. Everyone including us young people need to believe that we can lead and transform Africa.
Although the African continent can boast of contributing over 23% of the global youth, the continent still has countries languishing in poverty and persistent turmoil. This percentage of vibrant young people face tons of problems, number one and two being unemployment and exclusion in the decision making process.
The issue of unemployment does not only leave the African youth in poverty but also impels the young person into perpetuating social vices such as robbery. Poverty also drives the youth into developing chronic mental health issues and other health related complications. In addition, the disregard of youth at the decision making level makes them unconnected in the development process of their beloved country.
Lack of employment opportunities, failure to succeed in education system, family problems, substance abuse, pressures of materialism, lack of affordable housing, negative stereotyping, pressures of 24-hour social networking.
QUESTIONS TIME WITH OUR READERS
Barnabas:Big brother, hope you and your august Guest, are doing good and well and kicking?
Again, i shy not from complimenting and or praising you to the skies for the penniless job you have been doing. It’s all well and good. Thumbs up to you.
Now, to my main concern. I am today unwilling to don the cup off my skull before speaking and so, i most ask for clemency from members to let go a toddler if i veered off language decency or even appear more frontal.
Now, big brother, relay this to your Guest; That, as a still growing up lad, i used to forcefully dispel assertions or arguments that Ghana was not heading anywhere towards progresses and opportunities, at least, for her young generations, until not too far past years pulled a fast one on me, and i begin to assimilate things for myself and now have a more sinister view of Ghana than those who used to only tell me hopeless stories about Ghana.
But this Country ours presently, in my childish observations, appears to be buffeted in unnecessary contradictory and whimsical directions and bickering, and it seems as if we do not know to where we are going as a people or how to get there. Or it is even, perhaps, possible that we exactly don’t know what we want as a people. We seem to be so fickle, so vindictive, so bitter, so intolerant, so treacherous to one another. I am so sorry, but that’s the ineffable impression our leaders offer by their capricious acts and unguarded pronouncements, actions and inactions. I am now sounding like the Venerable Honourable Martin Amidu. (Pun intended!…😊😊)
If not so, i am struggling and squirming in pain to fathom why a so-called Independent Sovereign Country could be cackling away on her palms so comfortably, whilst some absolutely good-for-nothing beings threatened some of her citizens to death and yet there is no positive signal from the market center or Head of Affairs of the State. What the cheek is that!
We are simply vociferous bombasts and vacuous rhetoric and nothing more. I will curtail my ranting here to ask my questions;
Now to my questions;
- With all the above mentioned factors and even more on the table presently, does your Guest see Ghana a land where success or making it in life, especially the youth, may be or is a high risk factor?
- Ceteris Paribus, and from where he sits, does he see Ghana going anywhere with her current political form and structure, especially where the ruling Governments always seem to hijack anywhere and everywhere, to the extent that dissenting bodies, like CSOs, are no longer matter in the collective drive to propel the developmental agenda of this country?
- Has he any suggested remedies to the issues for us going forward?
Thank you so much, and spare me the lengthy form of my way of asking the questions.
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Interesting insights. Yes, there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. In the midst of the challenging lacunas and the seemingly negative unfavorable legacy, I am overly convinced as an advocate for the youth that the time is just right and the time is now to spark a revolutionary change. I feel a positive vibration of change across country through the youth. Our numbers must not scare us. It should rather hint us that the dependency ratio will soon reduce with increasing labour force.
The vision of the renaissance of Ghana should not be equated to manners that must fall from above. It simply has to take a critical crop of aggressive young leaders with the right competence, conscientization, entrepreneurial skills, integrity to drive the home grown revolutionary change. History must and i repeat for emphasis must not be repeated!
Let’s be inspired by the apparent success of the Soviet Union and Communist China in rebuilding their societies and feeding their peoples. Interesting enough, we will have no excuse letting this country down. Probably, the first generation of leaders had their success and failure. Several decades of independence down the lane; we have learned and experienced. We have the past and present to guide and guard us.
We need to create and sustain the synergetic impulses of past and present generation of leaders. Whiles making justifiable pride in striving to annex the immutable component of dogma or fixed traditions by which we learn what to believe, thus, stacking us in prejudice and limitations and never free to change and grow by thinking critically.
Bassing: Wow! Impressive. It’s getting more interesting yet, we have already exhausted the time allotted to us by our Producer; Dr Hakeem Tahiru Balubie.Before we allow you to go, kindly take a bite on this
What possible measures would you suggest be put in place by Ghanaian youth development authorities and stakeholders to unearth the talents and leadership potentials of the youth as well as encourage Ghanaian youth to participate in national politics and national development?
Ananpansah B.Abraham: Amend the Constitution to become more flexible.
Age doesn’t lead. Emmanuel Macron of France is leading his people well not because he is older than everyone. So those clauses that tie the presidency and other juicy political positions to age must be annexed. Just like it’s done for women, I think certain specific quota in terms appointment in government must be reserved for the youth. Delink the ministry of youth and sports, so we can have a whole ministry addressing youth challenges.
At the local level, the various avenues must be provided to the youth to add their voices to local policies that directly affect their lives.
Bassing: Readers, we have come to the end of yet another interactive, insightful and intellectually intuitive segment of our Social Media Monk session. We are most grateful to all those who find time to interact and asked questions where necessary. I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Readers have picked some useful information out of the interaction on the thematic concern held supra.
Until we meet same time with another interactive segment of the Social Media Monk session next week, do have a fruitful weekend and a restful night……………..Bye (Exeunt)
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HUB EDITOR: Bassing A.M.A.Kamal