Thanks to the Electricity Company of Ghana, I had the opportunity to only watch bits and pieces of the People’s Manifesto launched by former President His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, I had to wait till the next morning to listen to sections of the manifesto on radio and through panelist discussions on television. Luckily, I got a copy of the final document from a WhatsApp platform.
The thematic area that was so dear to my heart was the promotion of human development, especially the Zongos and Deprived Urban Settlements program of the party. Growing up in a Zongo community was a challenge for my parents due to the lack of opportunities and inequalities that people in these areas face. Thankfully, my parents were able to weather the storm and ensured that I had the best form of education and training to become a responsible citizen.
Since the introduction of multiparty democracy in Ghana, the Zongos have served as cannon fodder for politicians for their selfish interest. These politicians are quick to visit these Zongos and recruit the youth for violent activities during political programs. These youths are given some token and left to their fate after these politicians have achieved their selfish interest.
The NPP government before election 2016 promised to establish a Zongo development fund and after winning the elections appointed a Zongo minister to see to the development of the Zongo and deprived communities. The promise of such a fund coupled with the nomination of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia who most consider to represent the Zongo interest played a critical role in having most Zongos buy into the promise of the New Patriotic Party.
It’s been almost 4 years since the current government assumed the reins of power but they have failed woefully to keep their part of the bargain. The NPP’s achievement in that sector is nothing to write home about, apart from a few astro turfs which are under construction in these communities, no concrete development has happened in the Zongos.
The creation of the ministry made it look like the issues of Zongos was of much concern and would be placed on the front burner but this has not been the case for the past three and half years. The only achievement in that sector is a minister who is paid his monthly salary without doing any meaningful work to uplift the conditions of his kinsmen.
The history of the Aliens Compliance Order implemented by the Busia – Danquah tradition in the past and the recent actions by some members of the New Patriotic Party to prevent Ghanaians with Islamic names in the Zongos from registering in the recent voter registration exercise should be a wakeup call to my brothers and sisters from the Zongos.
The National Democratic Congress as a social democratic party has always seen to the welfare of minority interest. It is on record that the first NDC government ensured that the people of Zongo were given their due, the party ensured that the Eid festivals celebrated by Muslims were made holidays, since then Muslims in Ghana have had to celebrate those festivals with their families and friends on these religious days. The NDC in the past constructed schools and other facilities in these Zongos and other deprived communities to ensure that the Zongos also get their fair share of the national cake.
The NDC in launching their current manifesto has promised to make the lives of people residing in the Zongos better, the promise to provide regular funding through the District Assembly Common Fund for the development of the Zongos and deprived urban settlements is a good policy which must be supported by all.
The manifesto was also clear on job creation and provision of startup capital for business owners. The plan to enroll most of these youth into the National apprenticeship program and the free technical and vocational training to the youth in these communities would help in reducing the unemployment situation in those communities, it would also ensure that social vices that are usually recorded in such communities would be reduced to the minimum.
The promise to support Islamic colleges of education with more infrastructure and logistics to enable them recruit and train more teachers would help in empowering most of the youth in these communities to take up responsible roles.
Representation is very important in every set up, the NDC’s promise to give Zongo Chiefs and other denominations on the Hajj Board to ensure easy facilitation would also help to reduce the challenges faced by pilgrims during this important activity. The other promise to have the Muslim Umma represented on the board of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and regional affairs is a welcome idea, this would bring the Muslim Umma closer to the corridors of power and help government address their needs.
Every country needs unity, peace and harmony to develop, the National Democratic Congress has made that solemn pledge to ensure that the various Muslim denominations exist peaceful, this pledge would help diffuse some of the tensions and mistrust among these denominations.
The National Democratic Congress in its people’s manifesto has recognized the positive role of the Zongos and is prepared to give them their due come 2020. It is important for every adult of voting age who is a resident in a Zongo to vote for the National Democratic Congress for progress and development of the Zongo community.
Member, Ablekuma Central Communication Team. NDC
IMC Secretary of TEIN, Kings University- Bortianor –Accra.