Minister Weeps For The North
The Northern Region, plagued by several conflicts in recent times, has been a source of worry to the government, traditional and religious leaders, politicians, as well as the youth.
This is because they see such a situation as a threat to their future development in view of the fact that, government, in order to restore and maintain peace in the area, spends over ¢18 billion annually on security alone, which could have been used to promote its developmental agenda in the area, particularly in education, health and poverty eradication.
Many were those concerned leaders and had been trying their maximum best to support the efforts of the government in restoring peace and unity which are the keys to the development of both the people and the region, yet many were those unscrupulous, selfish and unpatriotic leaders of the region who had been using the youth as the result of their ignorance, to incite violence, thus retarding the efforts of the government and some leaders who were working tirelessly to return the peace to facilitate development.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mohammed Amin Adam Anta, in an interview with The Chronicle at his office in Tamale, has observed that, it would take about 50 years to properly market the underdeveloped Northern Region, as a result of the bad economic and social environment arising from the protracted conflicts in the region.
According to the Deputy Minister, the region could embrace better development to sustain the livelihoods of the people, only when the youth who had for long been infused with vengeful ideas by some of their mentors (bad leaders), were exposed to the idea that the development and future of the region depended on them.
Mr. Amin Anta lamented that, due to the perceived turbulence in the Northern Region, many people were shying away from the area, which he said was one of the major factors contributing greatly to the underdevelopment and high poverty level in the area.
The young, affable and energetic Minister, whose vision towards the sustenance of peace and development of the north, were apparently enormous, emphatically disclosed that many investors had come to do business in the region, but later relocated to other regions, whilst others had failed to come and explore the many economic and industrial potentials because of the perceived negative image they had about the north.
He intimated that, not even the zero-rated corporate tax incentives given by the government to investors who would invest in agro-processing in the north was attracting investors to the region.
Mr. Amin Anta further disclosed that, some big companies like Coca-Cola Company, a steel company, Schweppes and a Lebanese Plastic Company among others, who expressed interest in establishing their manufacturing plants in the north to serve the northern part of this country and the sub-Saharan countries like Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Togo, have suddenly withdrawn their proposals with the excuse that the area was unstable and unfavourable for major investment.
The Minister told The Chronicle that, if these companies had established their plants in the region, over 15,000 workers could have been employed from largely the youth, to stabilize the economic quandaries of the people.
When asked about the steps being taken by his administration towards the promotion of peace and development in the Northern Region, the Deputy Regional Minister noted that the Coordinating Council, presided over by Mr. Abubakar Saddique Boniface, the Northern Regional Minister, as part of its strategies to market the region, was planning to stage a "Northern Region Investors Forum" which is a blueprint on the development potential of the area to be out-doored to potential investors and policy makers.
Urging the investors to defy this bad impression about the north, the Minister encouraged all the farmers and business associations in the area to harness the agricultural potential of the region to attract more investors.
"I can assure the investors out there that there is absolute peace and stability here in the north and we have fully prepared ourselves to support and provide the necessary favourable atmosphere for them," he emphasized.
Mr. Amin Anta therefore advised all the people of the region, particularly, chiefs, religious leaders, women, youth and politicians to embrace their resolve to erase the negative image of the region by avoiding conflicts and other social and economic inhibitions.
"This impressive idea can only be realized when there is peace, unity and tranquility in our communities here in the north," he said.
Mr. Amin Anta called on the members of the Northern Caucus in Parliament also to put hands on deck in spite of their political differences to assist the region in its peaceful transformation.
He appealed to the people of Tamale and Yendi as well to conduct the August 11, 2005 District Assembly elections devoid of any atrocity and instability.