TALKING DRUM: A time with Ghana’s youngest DCE

His dream seems bigger than the baobab tree. On the surface, it appears impossible to accomplish. But who are we to doubt him when our elders have admonished us that we do not doubt a man who threatens he will chew a calabash when he had previously chewed a gong?

He is self-motivated to an extent that one might think Ryan Shupe’s hit song “Dream Big” was purposefully composed for him as nothing stops him from dreaming as big as the ocean.

“The vision is that; I want to build an Amansie South that has zero illiteracy record. I want to build an Amansie South that the average youth that come from that side can read and write. I want to build an Amansie South that even if no one is interested in schooling, the person will come to appreciate why he or she must go to school. And, I am a living testimony,” said Clement Opoku Gyamfi, Ghana’s youngest District Chief Executive (DCE).

When I say we must not doubt him in accomplishing his dreams and he himself affirming his determination, then, it lies in the fact that the now 32-year old DCE has amassed and is still amassing numerous certificates to himself. Certificates that will be ‘living testimonies’ to the youth of Amansie South that when the owner gives them a reason to also be in school, they can hardly say no to him.

Mr. Opoku Gyamfi, born to Mr. John Awuni, a police officer, and Madam Sophia Yaa Konadu Duku, a business woman, had no choice not making school a number one priority. He says, his father was particularly strict on him and his younger siblings (two boys and a lady) to, first, marry their books before any other thing.

“So, I started my schooling at the Newman International School at Abuakwa in the Atwima Nwabiagya South District and then came to Bantama Station Basic School, all in the Ashanti region, for my basic education. I, as well, did my senior high school at Bantama; at the Asanteman Senior High School,” he said.

It was on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, at the Ghana Cocoa Board’s Lunch City near the offices of TV3, in Accra, when I sat down listening to Clement Opoku Gyamfi tell me his intriguing story.

The man who today occupies a very sensitive position in society said he had his tertiary education at the then Kumasi Polytechnic now Kumasi Technical University, graduating with an HND. He would later proceed to the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) for his Bachelor of Science degree.   

Mr. Opoku Gyamfi, after his GIMPA degree, was employed at the Ghana Cocoa Board where he worked for years. “While at the COCOBOD, I went back to school — GIMPA again! But, this time, to the law school to pursue an LLB [Bachelor of Laws] which I have successfully completed in 2020,” the Amansie South DCE told me.  

He indicates that, currently, he is a student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) pursuing MSc Strategic Management and Leadership and he envisages enrolling at the Ghana School of Law, at Makola in Accra, this year, to fully complete his legal education which will enable him to be called to the bar.

Clement Opoku Gyamfi tells me that then as an employee of COCOBOD, he dressed up to work one day, somewhere in 2020, and before he could close for the day fate had altered things in his favour. He had a call that he had been appointed by President Akufo Addo to man one of his districts in the country — the Amansie South District.

President Akufo Addo appointed him DCE on August 6, 2020, and the comments people passed about the appointment gave him near headaches. 

When I asked him to tell me some of the things people told him about his appointment for the DCE position, he momentarily sat pensively and said: “The appointment came at a point when we had three months and a week to [the December 2020] elections. So, people were a bit skeptic; ‘why are you taking this appointment? You want to leave COCOBOD to pick a political appointment? What if your party doesn’t win?’”

Mr. Opoku Gyamfi braced the odds, accepted the offer to be President Akufo Addo’s DCE for Amansie South. Here is a young man presiding over an area that has a population of thousands and 86 communities.

So, one year after his assumption into office as the Amansie South DCE how does he rate his performance? This was his response to me my question: “Solo[mon], one year down the lane you’re a living testimony and Ghanaians are living testimonies. They [Ghanaians] know whether when the appointment was given to that young man, at that tender age [31 years old at the time], he has delivered, he is delivering or he will deliver. It’s up to them; they will know. I cannot sit here and say I’ve delivered, I’ll deliver or I’m delivering.”  

Amansie South is bedeviled with several challenges one of which is low standards of education and it is this that which Clement Opoku Gyamfi is bent on putting things in good shape. “If you have the opportunity of reading our [Amansie South District Assembly] audit report, you realise that under my tenure, I have spent a greater chunk of the District’s funds on education. Construction and renovations of schools here and there, making sure that teaching and learning materials are available. We will not sit there and wait for central government to do some of these basic things for us,” he said confidently tapping his fingers on the table that stood between the two of us.

He told me that in his familiarization tour, upon assumption into office, he realised that schools in the district do not have computer laboratories. These are schools that do not even have access to computers. “In fact, Solomon, even if you ask a pupil what a computer is,” he said signaling a waiter who had approached us to hold on, “they can hardly hazard an answer. “As a matter of principle and policy, we have agreed that every structure we build in the district will have a computer laboratory attached even if it is five (5) sets of computers, the people will appreciate it.”

Ghana’s youngest DCE says, the issue of galamsey — illegal gold mining — is also a huge issue in his constituency and he is making frantic efforts at getting the youth who indulge in the trade to desist from such. In providing an alternative livelihood to the galamseyers to stay off illegal mining, Mr. Opoku Gyamfi says he has written a letter to the Lands Commission, requested for coconut seedlings and soon most of these illegal miners will be enlisted into coconut farming. That which will give these youth a new job opportunity and invariably replenish the degraded lands in Amansie South.

The former employee of COCOBOD said he has a soft spot for cocoa farmers especially in his constituency. He makes sure their issues get addressed immediately they come before him.  

During last year’s Christmas, I saw Clement Opoku Gyamfi on social media interacting with some kids. He had dressed as Father Christmas; perhaps, an Amansie South Father Christmas!

He says that “was an innovative way me, as the District Chief Executive, getting closer to my constituents. As a plan, every year, there will be a party for all kids and widows within the district capital. But the donations to the widows is not limited to the district capital. What we do is, in each of the 86 communities we pick at least two widows so that — from my own pocket, we do ‘something’ for them.”

One needs not ask if the Amansie South DCE is enjoying his position. He really is. But, are there any challenges he is facing as a DCE? He says yes, there are challenges but he conquers such with his passion for the job. Mr. Opoku Gyamfi said as the DCE, the district’s security is in his hands and he strives hard to safeguard it. In order not to be overwhelmed by the task of managing his district, he has resorted to practicing a decentralized administration where he gives people active roles to play.

On his political ambition, the DCE noted: “That one we leave it to God because I once woke up as COCOBOD staff and went to bed as a DCE. So, the God of miracles knows whatever [is good for His children]. Sometimes we propose but He knows best. We are building it [political career] and we are building it steadily.”

I must say I really enjoyed my conversation with Clement Opoku Gyamfi. We walked out of our seats with both of us laughing heartily. I had asked him a simple question which occasioned our prolong laughter.

“Is Ghana’s youngest DCE married?” was my question. “Oh Solo, looking at my finger you know I’m not married,” he retorted. “Hahaha! But Mr. DCE, how would I know if you have intentionally taken off the ring?”

I look forward to attending his wedding which he points out it will come off soon. In the meantime, I can only wish him well in his future endeavours.

May God grant Clement Opoku Gyamfi the wisdom and ability to effectively deliver his mandate to help move Ghana towards a better future. Long live Amansie South. Long live our youngest DCE!

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General (Onua TV/FM]. Views expressed herein are solely his, and do not, in anyway, reflect the editorial policy of his organisation whatsoever.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @aniwaba

YouTube: @aniwaba