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15.02.2005 General News

IEA calls for rapid development programme for the North

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Accra, Feb. 15, GNA - The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), on Tuesday called on the government to evolve a special programme for the accelerated development of northern Ghana to bridge the socio-economic gap between the North and South.

Dr. Kwesi Jonah, Acting Head of Governance of IEA who made the call said, "within the framework of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), a special programme should be adopted so that as quickly as possible, the socio-economic gap between the North and South can be bridged."

He made the call when presenting a 20-page report on analysis of the 2004 elections in the light of 10 selected variables from the 2000 Population and Housing Census and the 1985 Industrial Census.

The 10 variables were the regions, the ethnic groups, urban-rural status of regions, the poverty level of regions, level of illiteracy of regions, occupational structure of regions, birthplace of Ghanaians by birth, regional capitals, industrial towns and the combined population and population density of regions.

Dr. Jonah noted that the result of his analysis indicated that party political allegiance was deeply rooted in socio-economic and ethnic divisions, which needed to be eliminated to ensure the smooth development of the country in unity and national integration.

He said there was the need to eliminate the seeming political division in Ghana by bridging the socio-economic gap between the poor and the less poor, the literate and the illiterate as well as the rural and the urban populations.

Dr. Jonah noted that President John Agyekum Kufour's commitment to vigorous human resource development, private sector development and good governance, as contained in his sessional address was indicative of the fact that the government was on the right track to bridging the divisional gap.

"What is critically missing however is a special programme of accelerated development for those regions that currently have more than 50 per cent of their population living in poverty, especially the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.

The report stated that the 2004 election results showed that, "the poorer, more illiterate and disadvantaged populations have more political confidence in the NDC while the less poor, more literate and relatively privileged lean towards the NPP."

He said, "We can no longer pretend that as a nation, Ghana is united and well integrated when our politics and voting patterns are determined by deep socio-economic divisions.

"By election 2008 tangible improvements must be seen by less privileged and disadvantaged people if voting patterns are to undergo any significant change," he said.

Dr. Jonah recalled that in the election 2004 NPP had 52.45 per cent of total votes and 128 out of 230 parliamentary seats, while the NDC had 44.64 per cent and 94 seats.

He noted that while the gap between the two parties was a narrow 7.81 per cent for the presidential, it was 34 seats, representing 14.7 per cent in the parliamentary.

Dr. Jonah said analysis based on the poverty levels indicated that the three regions with extreme poverty of between 69-88 per cent, namely Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions handed the NDC a clear victory.

"The three regions with least poverty of between five and 28 per cent, namely Greater Accra, Western and Ashanti regions gave the NPP victory in both Presidential and Parliamentary elections," he said. He also noted that out of five regions, namely Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western, Brong Ahafo and Volta, which had below the national average of 40 per cent poverty level, NPP won in four, except the Volta Region.

"Five regions, Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Central and Eastern have above average levels of poverty and the NDC had clear victory in three of them except the Central and Eastern regions," he said.

He said the 2000 Population and Housing Census indicated that 45.9 per cent of Ghana's population was not literate and the lowest level of illiteracy, 20.6 per cent was recorded in Greater Accra, where the NPP won while the highest, 78.7 per cent was recorded in the Northern Region where the NDC won.

Dr Jonah said additionally, the NDC won in three out of five regions, which recorded illiteracy levels above the national average and the NPP won four out of five regions, which recorded illiteracy levels below the national average.

On the impact of the occupational structure of the country on the 2004 elections, the report noted that the NDC won in the areas where the population was dominantly in agriculture and agriculture related occupations, while the NPP won in the industrial towns and in regions which recorded relatively high in occupations of technical, professional, managerial and administrative nature.

The report noted that in the regional capitals, the NPP won 49.23 per cent of votes and the NDC won 46.15 per cent, which reflected a narrow gap of a little over three per cent.

On the urban-rural analysis, the report indicated that the regions with the highest rural population such as the Upper East, 88.9 per cent, Upper West, 83.3 per cent, Volta, 75 per cent and Northern 72.2 per cent voted massively for the NDC.

"The regions where at least one third of the population is urban, namely Greater Accra, 87.7 per cent, Ashanti, 51.4 per cent, Brong Ahafo, 38.9 per cent, Central 37.5 per cent, Western, 37 per cent and Eastern, 33.3 per cent, voted for the NPP," Dr Jonah said.

The analysis also looked at the impact of ethnicity on the 2004 elections and noted that the NPP won in regions with dominantly Akan population, while the NDC won in regions with less Akan population. Politicians, political analysts and members of the public present at the presentation called on the IEA to do a more extensive survey that will tell the exact factor that determined behaviour of the voter and what had accounted for the shift in votes from NDC to NPP between 1992 and 2004.

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