An update on ONE Ghana’s event in Accra during the country’s presidential election last month.
The streets of Accra were deserted on August 29. Across the city, people gathered around TVs and radios waiting for news of the Supreme Court of Ghana’s decision on the contested 2012 election.
It was a big day for the country, and also a big day for ONE, as we headed to the Ashaiman Assembly Building to meet local members and representatives from the District Citizens Monitoring Committee.
The silence was broken by cheers and shouts of ‘Ghana has won!’ as we arrived at the Assembly – John Dramani Mahama had been declared the legitimate victor of the country’s closely fought presidential poll.
Photo caption: Staff at the Rural Urban Women and Children Development Agency (RUWACDA) in Accra, Ghana.
In the days leading up to the decision, few people were prepared to guess the outcome. But there was unanimous pride in their democratic system, pride that both parties backed a process designed to see a smooth and peaceful resolution.
So, spirits were high and politics were front of mind as ONE’s co-founder Jamie Drummond and myself sat down to hear from the group about what issues matter most to them.
Our friends at SEND-Ghana, winners of the 2010 ONE Africa Award, helped bring together a passionate and engaged group, including representatives from women’s groups, farmers and youth groups. We were also delighted to meet some local ONE members who joined us at very short notice to say hi and share their thoughts.
A clear thread running through the two-hour discussion was the importance of data and transparency. The activists from Accra want to know where their money is going. They want to see promises being kept. And they want accurate information – so when a budget is set, they want to see that money delivered so that vital projects like new roads, or drains, health services and schools get built.
Time and again we heard how people want facts. Ghana has huge reserves of natural resources, with oil production increasing, gas supplies about to be tapped and lots of gold being mined. The country is making great progress on the Millennium Development Goals – but 28.5 percent of Ghana’s population still live in extreme poverty.
The Ashaiman “factivists” who work hard to find out exactly what’s going on in their district are doing important work holding politicians to account and demanding that the wealth of their country is used to benefit all citizens.