Kaleo (UW/R), Nov. 9, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama, who is on a campaign tour of the Upper West Region, has tasked chiefs to play a central role in the local administration of their areas to ensure that district assemblies meet the needs of their people.
Addressing a grand durbar of chiefs and people at Kaleo, attended by Naa Sando Banawin II, Paramount Chief of the Kaleo Traditional Area, Alhaji Mahama said it was crucial that traditional rulers worked closely with assembly members and district assemblies to identify the development priorities of the people so that projects were not imposed on them.
"You must consider yourselves as development partners who have a stake in the progress of your areas," he said. "You are closer to the people and you know what their dire needs are, therefore, you must be proactive in bringing them to the fore and seeking assistance from both governmental and non-governmental sources to address them."
The Vice President said though the Government would always be fair in the distribution of the national cake, the competition for the resources was keen and those areas who are more persistent and aggressive in their demands are more likely to be considered first.
Traditional leaders must, therefore, not relax and wait for projects to be brought to their areas but rather mobilise their people to identify avenues to reduce poverty and strengthen the Government's efforts in that direction.
Vice President Mahama announced that the Government was securing funds from the World Bank to invest in agriculture and other areas towards rural development and they must prepare themselves to maximise the investments to better their lots.
"It would be impossible for the Government to put money into people's pockets for their daily sustenance to reduce poverty and sustain the practice," he explained. "What the Government can do is to provide infrastructure like roads, provide educational, health, energy etc. and good governance so that people would be equipped to work for themselves in freedom and create wealth."
The Vice President said it was in this vein that the Government had constructed more than 700 school blocks, imported 1,000 tractors to modernise agriculture, upgraded many trunk and feeder roads, provided electricity, potable water, health facilities and many facilities to create the appropriate environment for people to improve their standard of living.
"For us in the North, education must be a matter of policy and priority in our efforts to reduce poverty," he stressed. "We must, therefore, take advantage of the schools provided to ensure that our children have quality education. For us, education is our means of salvation from poverty."
He assured the people of Kaleo that their senior secondary school would be upgraded to a model status in due course.
The President, he said, had also directed that some of the HIPC Funds should be used to provide them with potable water.
Vice President Mahama, however, expressed concern about the slow pace of upgrading major roads into tarred ones, explaining that only one contractor in the region the capacity to tar roads.
He said efforts would be made to attract more contractors with that ability to work in the region.
He also promised to ensure that they received support from the Ghana AIDS commission, which he chairs to back their efforts to fight HIV/AIDS through the activities of community based organisations and NGOs.
He advised them to guard against bush fires, which was destroying agricultural lands and the forest, saying their efforts at reducing poverty would be eroded if bush fires were not discouraged. Naa Banawinin thanked the government for the many development projects executed under the Kufuor administration and expressed the hope that their outstanding needs would be addressed soon. "We are grateful and proud for what we have received so far but like Oliver Twist we still ask for more, he said.
At Lawra, Hamile, Babuile, Yaga, Takpo and Nandom, the chiefs were full of praises for the Kufuor administration for responding to their requests for development projects and appealed for more. They also pledged their support for the administration to enable it to continue its good works.
The Paramount Chief of Nandon, Naa Puobe Chiir, said "everybody is happy with the many projects in education, energy, feeder roads and others that have been provided. Reading the positive change has come to Nandom. We have a proverb, which says that if your enemy crops are better than you, you just accept it.
Vice president Mahama advised them to elect competent, hardworking and sympathetic parliamentary candidate who have been nominated by the NPP and not maintain those who gave them money during the election season and failed to address their concerns.