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04.12.2002 Regional News

Wa chieftaincy dispute poses threat

By Graphic
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THE Upper West Regional Minister, Mr Mogtari Sahanum, has said the Wa chieftaincy dispute is the single most important threat to the peace, stability and development in the Upper West Region. The regional minister who made this known in Accra yesterday, said “on a few occasions there have been threats of escalation of the dispute”. He, therefore, called on the security agencies to continue to remain steadfast to ensure that the situation does not degenerate into war.

He was speaking at the weekly “Meet the Press” series being organised by the Ministry of Information to give regional ministers the opportunity to enlighten the press about the developments in their various regions. Mr Sahanum said the dispute has gone through the Judicial Committee of the Regional House of Chiefs and the Appeals Committee of the National House of Chiefs and is currently before the Supreme Court.

He said the region has also made a representation to the Attorney General on the appointment of a counsel to the House of Chiefs and expressed the hope that the matter will receive urgent attention.

Mr Sahanum expressed regret that out of the 17 paramountcies in the region, only nine are occupied by substantive chiefs.

He said considering the enormous contribution that chiefs make to the development of an area, there is the need for the people to live in unity with one another to enable them to chose a chief to assist in the development of their areas and the region as a whole.

The regional minister commended the security agencies for their protection and extended the compliments of the chiefs and people, of the region to them. On health, he said the HIV/AIDS pandemic has put the region at great risk as a result of its prevalence rate, which now stands at six per cent.

The regional minister said this is as a result of the long dry season in the area which puts many people, particularly the youth, out of job.

This, according to Mr Sahanum, compels the girls to engage in all manner of jobs, including prostitution. He said there is nothing concrete the region can do to stem the tide. However, he said the region is collaborating with the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation and District AIDS committees to intensify public education in the region.

Mr Sahanum said efforts are also afoot to get many irrigation dams renovated to provide all year round water for farming to engage the youth.

The regional minister also decried the lack of a regional hospital in the area to contain the large number of patients who flock to the district hospital to receive medical attention.

He said inadequate staffing is also another problem as the doctor to patient ratio stands at one to 32,032 patients while nurse/ patient ratio is one to 1,237.

The regional minister said the cash and carry system is not favouring the people as they are unable to raise the money to service their medical debts, adding that the bad nature of the roads also hinders referral of cases.

To reddress these, he said the Regional Co-ordinating Council is exploring the possibility of providing appropriate incentive package to doctors in particular as a way to retain them in the region while “modest support is being given to the 11 doctors from Cuba who have been posted to the region to make them comfortable and serve the region better.”

Mr Sahanum said a total of ¢6.9 billion has been spent in the health sector in the region since January this year and mentioned some of the projects undertaken to include a Physiotherapy Ward at the Wa Hospital and an X-ray block. Bushfires, he said, have been a major problem in the region as it devastates and degrades the environment.

Communities have also been alerted about the existing regulations on bushfires while an outright ban on communal or group hunting which is a major cause of bushfires in the region has also been instituded, the minister said, and added that “we shall commence the enforcement of the ban immediately.” Mr Sahahum said education in the Upper West Region, is beset with a myriad of constraints that militate against effective teaching and learning and noted that the literacy level is as low as 24.5 per cent as against the national average of 45. 9 per cent.

He also mentioned lack of teachers at both the SSS and tertiary levels and the deplorable nature of some school structures as some of the other factors hampering the enhancement of education in the region.

The minister said in spite of these some of classroom blocks and desks have been provided while about 69.615 textbooks have been provided.

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