The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has urged Ghanaians, irrespective of their political and cultural differences, to pursue activities that will promote national unity and cohesion.
That, he said, was crucial because “our national cohesiveness is being tested by the whipping up of ethnic hatred by some political groups with an inordinate ambition for power through the instrument of political violence”.
Mr Mahama made the call at the seventh national Guan Congress at Kete Krachi in the Volta Region.
Guan-speaking people live mostly in Ghana, with some living in Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire but tracing their origins to Ghana.
The Guans now live in five regions in Ghana — the Northern, Volta, Central, Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions.
The Guan-speaking communities are Gonja, Nchumuru and Nawuri in the north; Anum, Boso and Larteh in the Eastern; Nkonya, Krachi and Lolobi in the Volta; Yeji, Prang and Kwame Danso in Brong Ahafo and Winneba and Awutu Senya in the Central Region.
The congress, therefore, serves as a platform for all Guans separated by land boundaries to come together to take stock of their past activities and come up with strategies for the future development of their communities and the nation.
This year’s congress was held on the theme: “Peace, Unity and Development”.
Chiefs from the various ethnic groups sat in state, while their subjects displayed their unique culture of dancing and singing.
Addressing the opening session of the congress, the Vice-President noted that Ghana was made up of different ethnic groups and tribes, and that in spite of the differences in culture, language, customary practices and usage, Ghanaians were bound together by destiny as one people.
“That is why it is important for us as a nation to undertake pursuits of a national character as a way of achieving national cohesion,” he said.
Mr Mahama said the country had been very stable since the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, adding, “We have endeavoured to live as one people with a commitment to nurture and develop our democratic institutions of state, while carving out a governance architecture to reflect our peculiar historical experience, needs and aspirations that will stand the test of time.”
However, he said, competitive politics and the desire to attain political power by some politicians were beginning to put those institutions to the test, hence the need to take a decisive action to maintain peace in the country.
He asked the youth not to allow themselves to be influenced by self-seeking politicians to cause mayhem during the elections.
Rather, he said, the youth should mobilise their energies, imagination and drive to partner the government to build a Better Ghana.
Touching on Guans, the Vice-President noted that they had unique behavioural characteristics, such as avoiding aggressive practices and violence without being timid.
He said they were people with a rich culture of obedience, humility and willingness to share.
However, that thread which had over the years bound Guans together in unity through the chieftaincy institution and other cultural practices and norms was now under threat.
“Long-held cherished procedures for filling vacant stools and skins are violated with impunity. People who are not entitled to become chiefs claim titles to stools or skins. They do this because they have money to fight their cause through our legal system,” he said.
Mr Mahama stressed that the courts were not the best forum for settling chieftaincy and traditional issues, saying that was the reason the 1992 Constitution gave the power of adjudicating chieftaincy issues to the houses of chiefs.
On the government’s programmes, the Vice-President said the initial set-up capital for the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), which is to develop infrastructure, promote economic growth and reduce poverty in the country, had been released.
Again, the government had taken a $3-billion loan from China for the Western Corridor Railway Rehabilitation Project, the Takoradi Port Retrofit Project and the Sekondi Free Zone Project, while part of the money would be used for the Accra Plains Irrigation Project, the Coastal Fishing Harbours and Landing Sites Redevelopment Project and the Eastern Corridor Multimodal Transportation Project.
Mr Mahama announced that the government would send a pontoon to Kete Krachi by the end of the year to facilitate the movement of people and goods in the area.
The Krachiwura, Nana Mprah Besemuna III, said the Krachi Traditional Area had witnessed infrastructural development over the last few years which had impacted “very positively” on the social and economic well-being of the people.
While showing appreciation for the inclusion of the northern Volta Region in the SADA, he appealed to the government to focus on irrigation in the area.
On the forthcoming elections, he urged Ghanaians to avoid acts that could mar peaceful coexistence “to ensure sustainable growth and development”.
Nana Besemuna asked all politicians who were interfering in the chieftaincy crisis in Buipe to stop and allow the traditional authorities to handle the issue.
The Omanhene of Larteh, Nana Oko Asiedu Ababio III, who chaired the congress, said historically Guans were the first to settle in Ghana and stressed the need for Guans to build their capacity to take their rightful position in society.