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26.10.2007 Politics

Northerners urged to unite for development

Northerners urged to unite for development

Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, on Thursday advised citizens from the three northern regions to avoid acts that generate violence among them and rather unite to hasten the pace of development in their localities.

He expressed dissatisfaction that most often, the only time people from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions embarked on mass movement of their kith and kin was when they were at each other's throat.

Vice President Mahama gave the advice when he addressed a "Northern Development Forum" in Tamale.

The Tamale Ecclesiastical Province Pastoral Conference (TEPPCON) in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) organised the forum on the theme: "Strategies for the Development of Northern Ghana."

The Vice President said the development of the North should be of a national concern since no society could afford very wide disparities, which bred social and political instability.

He noted that the economic growth in the North could not be based on a model where the benefits of growth elsewhere were distributed in the North.

"Northern Ghana has immense growth potential and therefore discussions on development must be based on how to free the inherent capacity of the North."

He said growth in Northern Ghana was possible in a number of agricultural sub-sectors, as well as tourism and mining.

Vice President Mahama said the necessary step was to modernise agriculture through credit facilities, appropriate technical assistance and marketing strategies.

"I believe therefore that bold policy decisions may be required to accelerate the delivery of rural electrification, feeder roads and small scale irrigation schemes with appropriately constructed dams that assure all-year round cultivation."

Vice President Mahama appealed to citizens from the north to strive to eliminate all forms of discrimination, based on gender, ethnicity, religion or political opinion.

"My brothers and sisters, we need to unite as a people to enable us to confront the development challenges."

Vice President Mahama said all manner of litigations and chieftaincy disputes diverted energies of the people in their efforts to fight poverty, which was their main enemy.

He called on the elite of the North to put their special knowledge, skills and resources at the disposal of their less favoured brethren in order to reduce the poverty levels.

Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Regional Minister, expressed happiness that the forum was a non-partisan exercise to change the sordid conditions under which the people of the North were challenged with.

Professor Saa Dittoh, Dean of Students, University for Development Studies (UDS), who delivered the keynote address, said the most important investments in the North were irrigation, drainage, and physical and chemical soil improvements.

He said Northern Ghana could easily be the food basket of Ghana and the producer of different types of raw materials for agro-based industries adding that "This calls for careful planning and good understanding of commodity value chains and links to markets by all stakeholders".

Prof. Dittoh noted that poverty in the North would reduce by half, within a couple of years if Government tarred the Bamboi-Tinga, Fufulso-Sawla and Chiana-Wa roads.

"That means that Ghana can easily meet the Millennium Development Goal by those actions."

He said nobody could get Northern Ghana out of poverty except the people themselves.

The Metropolitan Catholic Arch-Bishop of Tamale, the Most Reverend Gregory Ebo Kpiebaya, said it was imperative that all citizens of the North came together and engaged in dialogue and solicited the cooperation of Government, Members of Parliament and other stakeholders to explore the potentials of the area.