Nii Amasah Namoale
Nii Amasah Namoale is the legislator of La Dade-Kotopon, arguably the most strategically located constituency in the country.
Namoale’s constituency houses the headquarters of the Ghana Armed Forces and the entire Burma Camp, the headquarters of the Ghana Police Service, the headquarters of the Ghana Prison Service, the headquarters of the Ghana Fire Service and Ghana’s only international airport, Kotoka.
The constituency has six top Senior High Schools and on a weekly basis attracts thousands of tourists to the La Pleasure Beach. It can also boast of La Beach and La Palm hotels. It has the Labone, Cantonments and Nyaniba Estates where the well-to-do live as well as the densely populated La township where mass unemployment is common among the youth especially.
NEWS-ONE caught up with Namoale for an interview on his family life, political career, his constituency and future prospects.
‘Yes Namoale, Say Namoale’; what does it mean?
It is my 2016 campaign slogan and was given to me by a friend who said he saw it in his sleep. This friend has surprisingly given me all my campaign slogans for my previous elections and they were all very popular slogans. So he said he saw or heard this one too in his sleep. He wrote it down and called me at dawn to give it to me.
Is the campaign going as you expected?
Yes. It is going on very well. We are mobilising people and we are on the ground.
Some say Dade-Kotopon would deny you a fourth term. No one has won that constituency twice, yet you are seeking a fourth term.
Dade-Kotopon would give me a fourth term and I can bet with you. If you like mark it on the wall. I would not have won the primaries if I would not get a fourth term. We were three at the primaries and one was even my nephew who was put in just to split my votes. Indeed, he took away some of my votes but I still won with almost 49 percent and I would have won with over 70 percent if things had gone on as things should have gone on.
Namoale, what have you done for your people?
I have done what a Member of Parliament should do and even more. I have empowered the socio-economic wellbeing of my people.
Oh several ways. I have helped thousands of people to acquire skills training so they become employable. Some have even had the tools, start-up kits and machines to work with after their training. And that is the only way you can ensure that they are in business. Thousands have gone through vocational and technical training institutes.
We have paid fees for several of them to be in schools but what we do is to go beyond the paying of fees to actually mentor them and guide them to understand why they are in school so they chose their career paths early.
From sports to cultural activities, we have supported many to enhance their skills and get exposure and I tell you, I know what my people need and I do my best to give them. There are several times my educational bursary has run out and I use my personal money to meet you half way. All these you see here are applications from people who want to go to school. I do these things not only for votes, but also to develop the people to make them employable and able to help others.
Over the years, I have been with my people and they appreciate it. I mourn with them when necessary and I celebrate with them when the time comes. From weddings to funerals to graduations to speech and prize giving days to traditional festivals, I have been there for them and they know it.
What has been your major challenge?
Sanitation. Many of the homes still do not have places of convenience and they go to the beach to ease themselves. It is wrong and I can’t allow this to continue. If I push too hard and get them arrested, I would lose votes. If I close one eye, I am not being a good leader. Striking the balance is difficult.
I have teamed up with the La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly (LaDMA) and we are doing well to educate the people, especially those in the schools. I collaborated with the Chief Executive and the Educational Director so all pupils and students in my constituency would be trained to understand the reason they should not litter the environment. We are catching them young and training them to become responsible adults and the model we are using has proved efficient.
Is sanitation not the job of the Municipal Assembly?
Theoretically it is. But in practical terms, I am the MP and I have to lobby, give my ideas, give directions and get it done because it is my photo that is on the ballot. When the people face the adverse effects of bad hygienic practices, they run to me and not to the Assembly so in practice, it is equally my headache. The people have done the wrong thing for several years and it is not easy changing them.
Some say you are making political capital from the development of the La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly as if you are the one building the roads and street lights and drains.
What were you expecting me to do? Distance myself from such projects? No way. I have to benefit from them because I personally fought and lobbied very hard before we had our own Assembly. AMA was fighting me, some people in my own government shot it down, I got devastated and I have worked really hard on this Assembly thing. So it was my initiative, my sweat and my toil and I have to be proud of the development it has yielded for my constituency and take the credit for it. It was even one of my campaign promises.
Tell us about Namoale the family man.
I have three daughters and one wife.
Is that all?
Oh if I have any other child somewhere, I may not know. I have been a young man before and sometimes you can never tell. I have a friend who thought he knew the exact number of children he had until they brought him a Congolese child recently.
So officially I have three daughters. The first is about 22 and a final year law student. The second daughter is also studying law and she is 19. The last one is still in Senior High. My wife is from the Volta Region but she sometimes forgets and behaves as if she is a Ga.
How many more kids should we expect from you?
I am an old man now. I am 57. I have hung my gloves and my wife is even in her menopause. We planned for three children and we have retired from making babies.
Some say your party, the NDC, would lose 2016 because times are hard. Some have raised very genuine complaints about the hardship.
It is worrying when I come across such complaints. It is very worrying especially when I can also feel the pains of paying extra more for water, electricity, fuel and so on. But the harsh reality is that we need the taxes before government can run. I sympathise with the people and I believe if the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) puts the right measures in place, there would be no need for government to add extra taxes on petrol for instance.
I have eaten in several restaurants where they do not issue VAT receipts and even when I asked, they still could not provide the VAT receipt as required by law. If the GRA can only do the right thing and collect taxes from the thousands of people evading tax, we do not even need to rely on the World Bank for loans and grants. But we have not done the right things so we are adding all the tax on petrol and it is putting an extra burden on the poor masses.
But I do not agree that the NDC would lose 2016. We are likely to reduce our seats in Parliament but John Mahama would be retained. I am a realist and I am honest and I can tell you that the wind of change that kicked out the NDC in 2000 is not what is blowing now.
We allowed NPP members to infiltrate our register and elect wrong and unpopular and weak parliamentary candidates from the NDC in many constituencies. Our party would pay for this dearly but we would win the presidency.
Tell us about your upbringing and education.
My dad was a fisherman but he learnt auto mechanic engineering. So he built a shop at Koforidua and that was where I grew up and started school. I grew up with a lot of siblings and cousins around and sometimes we visited Accra. I passed the common entrance to Ofori Payin Secondary and did my sixth form at Accra High. Just when I was to enter the university, there was this military uprising and the schools were closed. So I was to have gone to the United States to do Marine Engineering or become a Pilot.
I was sent to Nigeria to visit one of my sisters who would help me with some money for my plane ticket but she talked me out of the USA idea and convinced me to school at the University of Ibadan for my first degree. From there I came back to Ghana for my National Service and then joined the Civil Service in the Upper East Region. I later did my Masters and now I am studying Law to become a lawyer.
You seem to believe in education
Yes. Education is everything and I believe everyone should get the basic literacy and numeracy skills to move on in life. Education is the way to the top.
Anything that happens in your life, it is the will of God and for a useful purpose. I am hoping that God would give me good health so I do charity after politics to help the needy and open doors for people to also open doors for others.
I want to open a law firm for myself and my children where we would do a lot of pro bono cases for people in need but cannot afford a lawyer. I am praying God gives me the strength and health to really do that charity.
Nice talking to you and amen to your prayers.
Thank you for the opportunity.
By Halifax Ansah-Addo ([email protected])