Takoradi, Aug 14, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Saturday appealed to chiefs, the people and political parties to conduct themselves with decorum to ensure continued peace and stability especially during this year's election.
"Giving way to personal attacks and bitterness will yield no positive dividends", he said this when addressing a colourful durbar of the chiefs and people of the Western Region to climax their week-long Homecoming Summit dubbed" W/R Nkabom Afahye 2004" at Takoradi.
The theme for the Summit was " Education-Key to development" President Kufuor said the Government was committed to free and fair elections and expected all other political parties to follow suit. He said the unwritten rule that bound the nation was unity in diversity, where the spirit underlying this unwritten rule holds chiefs, ethnic groups and religions together.
"It is this national spirit that we must jealously guard and promote, even as we pursue economic liberation", he added. On the economic prospects of the region that abounds in many mineral resources, President Kufuor said the Government was determined that even as the benefits of the natural endowment in terms of mining, timber and agriculture were exploited---" we do not become irresponsible".
He said policies of forestation and ecological balance and support for farmers were being pursued with imagination and commitment. President Kufuor expressed the Government's respect for the chieftaincy institution that is preserving the nation's culture without holding its development back.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, described the summit as "a historic occasion" that demonstrated the unique oneness in cultural diversity of the region.
He said the region had always been a pacesetter and urged other regions to emulate it in their efforts to foster peace and unity among their people's to accelerate development.
Mr Aidoo said the pomp and pageantry that characterised the weeklong activity should not be used as a yardstick to conclude that that the summit had been a success.
He said the people would have to wait for the next summit to be able to judge its success when targets on education, investment, employment and above all, peace, unity and integration of the region had been met. Mr Aidoo announced that in order not to make the summit a nine-day wonder, a permanent secretariat to enhance the activities of the summit had been secured in Takoradi.
He also emphasised that the cardinal objective from the summit would be to tackle the problem of education at the basic level to ensure that all children of school going age were in the classroom. Mr Aidoo, who also launched an education fund for the region pledged 100 million cedis on behalf of the Regional Coordinating Council while the management of British American Tobacco (BAT) also pledged 100 million cedis as seed money.
Twenty brilliant but needy students from the 11 districts in the region were given a cheque of one million cedis each under the Regional Coordinating Council bursary.
President Kufuor on behalf of the Government pledged 200 million cedis to the fund.
Kasapreko Kwame Bassanyin 111, President of the Western Region House of Chiefs, said the coming together of the paramount chiefs in the region, provided them with the unique understanding in unity to shape the destiny of the people of the region.
He said this would also bring integrated planning to push forward their common agenda for development.
"It is now time for action and unity of purpose, since no one will come to develop our region for us", Kasapreko Bassanyin said. The summit, Kasapreko Bassanyin said was not to trumpet the poverty of the region in the midst of plenty but to enable us to work for unity and to tackle our problems.
Osabrima Kwesi Atta 111, Omanhene of Oguaa Traditional Area and Nana Kwesi Conduah, Omanhene of Edina Traditional Area and a delegation from Oakland, California in the United States read solidarity messages on behalf of their people.