Ada, (G/R) Aug. 14, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Saturday encouraged the Chiefs and people of Ada to speed up their process of attaining peace and a common front in order to optimise the benefits of salt mining for the development of the area.
He expressed regret that disputes and litigations had undermined the development of the Songhor Lagoon Basin, thus 'locking' its potentials for jobs and wealth creation.
Vice President Aliu cautioned that investors would be deterred from investing in the area unless peace, unity and stability prevailed.
The Vice President was addressing a grand durbar of chiefs and people of Ada to climax the 'Asafotufiami,' the annual festival of the people of Ada, in the Dangbe East District.
Asafotufiam, which means firing of muskets by a company, is celebrated in the first week of August, to commemorate the successes chalked by the ancestors of Ada in the wars against their enemies when they were establishing their settlements.
Vice President Mahama commended the people for making steady progress towards peace as announced by Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III, Paramount Chief of the Ada Traditional Area.
He encouraged the chiefs, landlords and people to use the festival as a platform to facilitate the peace process and appealed to all interested parties in the Songhor Lagoon resource to subdue their individual interests for the common good of Ada and its people. Vice President Mahama said: "Chiefs do not exist to merely raise Asafo groups to fight opposing forces in a bid to protect boundaries of their traditional areas. Rather, they are expected to mobilise the people to fight poverty and under-development, which are the greatest enemies of our time."
He requested traditional councils in the country to mobilise the people for development in order to move Ghana forward. Vice President Mahama said the Government was committed to improving the standard of living of the people of Ada.
He announced that the area had been selected to benefit from the Rural Enterprises Development Project, under the President's Special Initiative (PSI).
Vice President Mahama said: "The focus is on developing rural enterprises on tomato and water melons as part of the strategy to alleviate poverty and create wealth in the traditional area." The Vice President advised the people to take advantage of the project to improve upon their standard of living by starting appropriate micro projects.
In response to an appeal for the construction of a sea defence wall to prevent breach from erosion, he assured the people that the Government would consider their request.
Vice President Mahama said five-kilometres of the beach would be protected and there would be salt production, fishing and tourism infrastructure to facilitate the development of the area. He said the people's request for the renaming of the newly created Sege Constituency as Ada West; and the Ada Constituency as Ada East, respectively, would also be passed on to the appropriate authorities.
Nene Kabu Akuaku said the area was conducive for the cultivation of cassava and appealed to the Government to include the area in the Presidential Special Initiative on Cassava.
He announced that the Traditional Council would soon initiate a three-year project to build a state-of-the art palace for historic, educational and tourism purposes.
Nene Kabu Akuaku thanked the Government for the many development projects being undertaken in the area, particularly the Ada Government Hospital and the accommodation facilities being built for its staff. Mr Koki Plahar, District Chief Executive, said under the NPP administration, 998 projects had been executed at Ada in line with the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy programme. Ninety-five per cent of them have been completed.
These include educational, electricity, roads, biogas, water, health and other projects.
Mr Akuaku said 1.3 billion cedis from the HIPC savings was being spent on eight projects, while 2.188 billion cedis from the GET-Fund was used to improve education.
He said income-generating activities for 2456 women with start up capital totalling 954 million cedis had been provided, while 520 youth had been given training and were working in 26 groups as artisans. Mr Plahar said 223 million cedis would be released as scholarships for needy but brilliant children this year.
Work, he said, was also progressing steadily on the Aveyime treatment plant to provide potable water to 56 communities. The durbar was not marked by speeches alone. Indeed, to give meaning to the name of the festival, overzealous musketeers fired their muskets purposefully and randomly to exhibit their skills.
Divisional chiefs also danced in their palanquins of various sizes and shapes and later re-affirmed their allegiance to Nene Kabu Akuaku.
But, to many visitors, it was the march past by a number of ladies associations, of non-resident citizens, that was most remarkable as the women, smartly dressed in their ceremonial clothing with varied identification symbols, proved their worth as drummers and trumpet blowers.
Mrs Cecilia Bannerman Minister of Mines, Dr Majeed Haroun, Deputy Minister of Mines, public officers, people of Adas from all walks of life and some tourists attended the festival.