04.01.2008 Politics

Tension in 2008 polls, threat to government's development agenda - Benson

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Mr George Hikah Benson, Upper West Regional Minister has observed that the biggest threat to the government's development agenda for the North might be tension and conflicts that would probably be generated by election 2008.

He said tension and conflicts were likely to scare away support from government's agenda for the North and all must show concern about it and address the possible challenges to avoid its occurrence.

Mr Benson made the observation at an end of year dinner hosted by the Regional Coordinating Council for Members of Parliament, District Chief Executives, Security Heads and a cross section of the public in Wa on Thursday.

The forum, the first of its kind, is the brainchild of Mr Benson to create an opportunity for politicians from the political divide to foster unity and cooperation among themselves and to enable them to contribute collectively to the development of the region to benefit the people.

Mr Benson reminded politicians in the region that they were seeking political office to undertake development projects in the same way as the current government was doing and that they would be doing more harm than good if they encourage or condone violence just for the sake of gaining political power.

"We have co-existed as a people belonging to different ethnic, religious and other social groupings for a very long time.

"I am confident that we have the capacity to resolve all our differences amicably and we should not allow our political differences to stand in the way of the development of our people," he said.

"The Upper West Region must be bigger than the political parties to which we belong", he said adding: "There is the need for all of us to resolve to uphold and sustain our unity in diversity.

Mr Benson urged the people of the region to conduct their political campaigns for election 2008 in a civil manner and with respect for the rule of law and avoid tendencies that would undermine the collective desire to uplift the people from the shackles of poverty.

He said government would on its part create an enabling environment for a competitive, free and fair 2008 poll that would give no room to people to raise eyebrows to cause confusion and chaos.

He urged leaders of the various political parties in the region to let their supporters know that though they may belong to different political parties, their destiny was one.

Mr Benson said: " Our commitment to the development of our people is not negotiable and should not be sacrificed on the altar of individual and political considerations".

He said government have made great strides in the provision of infrastructure, but a lot more remain to be done to reduce poverty, infant and maternal mortality as well as diseases, ignorance and illiteracy.

He said following the devastating floods in the northern parts of the country, government had resolved to tackle the challenges arising from the disaster.

Mr Benson urged politicians in the northern and the people to take advantage of these developments to improve their lots by sustaining the peace and unity.

He said government would from this year invest in the upgrading of the road network, expand agriculture and improve on education and health infrastructure in the region.

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