In Ghana, it is arguable to highlight that opportunities for engaging in governance are somewhat dependent on the political, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts of the society with social norms playing a considerable role. Notably, both formal and informal engagement of the youth in our political landscape, is beneficial for a strong and resilient democracy, thereby warranting support in all folds. It is seemingly okay to postulate that the participation of the youth in institutional political processes worldwide may be relatively low. This aforementioned participation challenge, which of course is considered as a debatable topic, can be perceived as the disenfranchisement of the youth in the political landscape of most countries.
Nonetheless, there are some talented, knowledgeable, and ambitious youth playing an integral part in the nation’s development, democracy, peacebuilding, as well as promoting genuine moral values that have merited respect and recognition. These young men actively involved in political institutions deserve accolades for their contribution to national development. In order not to veer from the main goal of this article, such names are left unmentioned for now.
However, the question that arises here is: how about the youth helping with national development but unmentioned in the media space? Such a question is somewhat typical of some youth and concerned citizens engaged in political movements, thereby contributing their quota positively to national development. Despite the achievements of these movements in the country, their contribution to society and community development often go unnoticed. In some scenarios, these movements are not adequately invested-in through human capital and are often left out in decision-making processes in various constituencies. This challenge, if unresolved, may impede on the personal potentials and capabilities of the youth
Surprisingly, the youth and some concerned citizens, in an attempt to make their voices heard, rather took an innovative and novel approach to set-up a new movement by throwing their weight on a particular aspirant to represent them. Yet again, the questions that arise in this scenario is: why are they so confident in just a particular aspirant? what is the guarantee that their ultimate aim of infrastructural and social development in the constituency can be spearheaded by this aspirant? In order not to rush in answering these questions, we first furnish readers with the political background of the youth in Akim Oda. The youth of Akim Oda are perceived as traditionally active politically but often dissatisfied with the lack of developments in the constituency. Over the years, the political activism of youth is not organized according to formal groupings.
However, recently, the youth of Akim Oda have formed two structured political movements called “Oda Youth Movement” (OYA) and the Akyem Oda Concerned Citizens Association (AKOCCA). These movements which have gained many followers was set-up due to the seeming lack of infrastructural development in the municipality. The main objective of the OYA and the AKOCCA movement is to work closely with renowned social and political leaders in the municipality for the voice of the youth to be heard.
Attempting to answer the somehow complex questions asked in the preceding paragraph, we are convinced the answer lies within the “AAA’s effect”. The “AAAs” effect masterminded a new shift in the political paradigm of the youth of Akim Oda. The “AAA’s effect” responded to the needs of the youth in the constituency by engaging the youth in democratic practices and processes to guarantee that their right to the constituency development is recognized and enforced.
With the meaningful youth participation and leadership strategy the “AAA’s effect” rolled-out, the youth were given opportunities, capacities, and relevant evidence-based programmes and policies at all levels. More specifically, the “AAA’s effect” was previewed to the fact that realizing the right of the youth in the engagement of democratic processes and practices in the constituency was key in ensuring the fulfillment of internationally agreed development goals. The “AAA’s effect” also stressed the need to model a youth participatory structure and greater trust among the youth for capacity development.
In modeling the youth participatory structure, much emphasis was placed on the vulnerable youth groups, via specific target actions. Furthermore, with the protracted chieftaincy issue lingering at the doorstep of Akim Oda for the past 20 years, the youth groups seek developmental opportunities within mainstream politics. With such a complicated scenario where the youth are sympathizers of the Attafuah and Frimpong-Manso chieftaincy factions, the ability to mobilize the youth is rather a daunting task if not properly handled. Surprisingly, the youth sort to several mechanisms to be involved in the “AAA” team due to their policy-driven mentality for development.
With the “AAA’s effect”, and novel participatory mechanism engineered by the youth, the OYA and AKOCCA movements have encouraged its members to engage in peacebuilding using new communicative tools to mobilize its members to bring about change. The youth in the constituency has demonstrated the ability to work as a team, thereby promoting peace through conflict management. The OYA and AKOCCA movements are now seen as vital stakeholders for peacebuilding, and agents of change which provide a foundation for contributing to a more just and peaceful society. This is all due to long sort after developmental mentality of the youth and the emergence of Alexander Akwasi Acquah’s (AAA’s) all-inclusive leadership strategy. In conclusion, he is perceived by the youth as a game-changer redefining the political landscape of the Akim Oda Municipality.
Bismark Ameyaw (Ph.D.): Energy economist, data scientist, and policy analyst
Eugene Abrokwah (Ph.D.): HR expert, business consultant, and policy analyst