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05.04.2004 General News

Govt's failure to address poverty causes apathy on the masses - Kaburise

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Tamale, April 4, GNA - Professor John Paul Kaburise, Vice Chancellor of University for Development Studies (UDS) has noted that the inability of most governments to effectively tackle the chronic problems of poverty, illiteracy, and diseases among the majority of the people had resulted in apathy on the part of the masses.

He said the situation was worse in Northern Ghana with the communities suffering from criminal neglect since the colonial period. "The deliberate colonial policy to keep the North undeveloped prepares the way for subsequent neglect of the area by post colonial governments."

Prof Kaburise was speaking on: "A decade of Constitutional Rule - Focus on Northern Ghana," at the opening of this year's Northern Easter School at the Tamale Training College on Saturday.

The Institute of Adult Education, University of Ghana, is organising the five-day school, which would discuss the President's Special Initiative, mong other topics.

Participants would also deliberate on strategies for ensuring food security and poverty reduction, the National Health Insurance Scheme and "Ensuring Free and Fair Elections in 2004 - Challenges and expectation". Traditional rulers, academicians, religious leaders, heads of departments, trade unionists and civil society groups are attending the school.

Prof Kaburise said apathy still persisted among the people of Northern Ghana, and was visible during the recent voter registration exercise. "It is when those who are to obey authority find that the legitimacy base is suspect that they become apathetic to authority," he held.

Prof Kaburise said successive post independent governments have been more generous at providing political talk as to how they intend to develop the North than they had been at the physical offer of the material resources required in the region.

He noted that the development of the North could be achieved only if the people themselves get more interested in and participated more effectively in the political, social and economic upliftment of the area. Prof Kaburise said there was a perception among Northern Ghanaians that they had been marginalized as a people, adding that this perception was not a recent phenomena but one that had persisted during the past regimes. "This situation challenges our endeavours in nation building and poses a particular challenge to the notion of legitimacy and fighting the debilitating dispute in the North."

The UDS Vice Chancellor however noted that one very useful tool to address the issue of apathy was the education of a democratically informed citizenry. "In any state where there is an absence of a critical spirit in the attitude of the citizenry to the rulers, preservation of rights is a difficult matter."

He called for reintroduction of civic education into the curricular of first and second cycle schools to address the problems of illiteracy in the country, particularly in the North.

On national integration, Prof Kaburise suggested the adoption of proportional representation together with a form of government of national unity to forge the culture of inclusiveness into the country's political system.

He said the current political system shut out significant number of the population from meaningful participation in national affairs especially, policy formulation and revenue sharing, since it is always that the party that wins elections rules on winner takes all basis. Prof Kaburise said the current political system does not ensure that those exercising political power necessary enjoy the support of the majority of the population.

He said Ghana's constitutional rule would succeed since the virtues inherited were enormous and that much would depend on how transparent the government governs and its impact on the economic well being of the majority.