Participants at a forum in Tamale to discuss ways of expediting the development of northern Ghana have expressed disappointment with northerners in leadership positions for not doing much to transform the area.
They held that while northerners in key positions only amassed wealth and build mansions in the south, they returned home to build only “huts”, thereby contributing to a further widening of the north-south development gap.
The three-day forum, organized by the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province Pastoral Conference (TEPCON), with funding from Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), brought together think-tanks from the north to seek strategies to quicken the pace of development.
Personalities such as Dr Elias Sory, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Professor Saa Dito, Dean of Students at the University of Development Studies (UDS), Mr Daniel Batidam, an anti-corruption campaigner and Professor David Millar, Pro Vice Chancellor, UDS, were present.
The forum was on the theme: “Reducing poverty in Northern Ghana through a holistic development.” It would discuss an action plan with a clear vision of development alongside the expected role of government in the development of the north, as well as the equitable use of the Northern Development Fund.
Mrs. Agnes Chigabatia, a former Member of Parliament (MP) of Builsa North, said it was sad that some representatives of the people in the north in government were building mansions in Accra, adding that some of these representatives only visited home to solicit votes for election.
“As a former MP, I know what goes on in Parliament, especially the work of the various caucuses. The only caucus that had no truthful deliberation is the Northern Caucus and this is because they are not so worried about the development of their people.”
She said some northerners were also based in the south and had adopted southern names and disassociated themselves with the north, while others hid their identity and pretended they could not speak their native languages.
Mrs. Chigabatia, who is also a former deputy Upper East Regional Minister, said northerners only relocated home during old age to enable them gain political positions.
Mr Batidam, a former Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative, said there was need for northerners to start the process of developing themselves as a means of commitment to attract aid.
He said conflicts were the enemy of developing the north and suggested that “war fields” should be used for economic activities to ensure that those who involved themselves in conflicts were employed.
Other speakers blamed the colonial government for the lopsided development of the north, while some also attributed the problem to governments' inaction to integrate the north.