- Ghanaian Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama has begun a week's visit to Ghana's Upper East Region with a call on northerners to "restore peace" in conflict-prone areas and resolve to sustain the peace existing in non-conflict areas. Ghana still is in a position to avoid the constant conflicts between Muslim northerners and Christian southerners, which are destabilising Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria.
Ghana has the same conflict potential as the two other grand nations of the region. The Christian south has dominated economic development, while the Muslim north with its proud pre-colonial history has slipped into recession. In Ghana, however, northerners and southerners have maintained peace. Ethnic conflict between northerners has however occurred for some years in the Upper East Region.
Vice President Mahama demonstrated a humble approach to the conflict as he embarked on his working visit to the north. He admitted statistics had shown that the three Northern Regions were the poorest and said that the Ghanaian government, non-governmental organisations and the country's development partners were now willing to reverse these negative trends.
However, Mr Mahama said development could not progress without peace and, therefore, called on the people to redirect their energies into building a formidable peace in the area for the necessary developments to take place, according to a press release by the Ghanaian government.
The Vice President said this when he paid separate courtesy calls on the Paramount Chief of Bolgatanga Traditional Area, Naba Martin Abilba II and the Zuarungu Chief, Naba Bob Charles Ayamga at their palaces.
He appealed to chiefs to readily release lands for development purposes, saying that organisations, the private sector and other development partners were willing to support in the development of the area, but that they were hesitant because of the cumbersome nature of land acquisition and the unwillingness of chiefs to release lands for development purposes.
Mr Mahama announced that government in Accra had now acquired about 1,000 tractors to support the agricultural sector and that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had been directed to work out modalities for the distribution of the tractors.
The Vice President further called on farmers in northern Ghana to take advantage of the development of that sector and venture into large-scale farming, especially, in sorghum production, because of the market potential of that crop on the national market.
He indicated that the breweries in the country were supplementing their production with sorghum and that they needed large quantities of the crop, which northern farmers had the comparative advantage to produce. Mr Mahama thus advised District Chief Executives in the region to make consistent efforts and follow the due processes to acquire some of the tractors for farmers in the region.
Mr Mahama further promised that government was "determined to implement development projects in education, health, and agriculture, among other sectors in full," to improve upon the well being of all Ghanaians. "We are on track and conscious of our vision and goals and so we would not allow ourselves to be detracted by people, who have nothing to offer," he said.
The Ghanaian Vice President further gave the assurance that the government would ensure a free and fair electioneering process and called on the people to be vigilant and to smoke out rabble rousers, whose aim was to bring instability into the country. He said his visit was an effort to seek northerners' views on government's performance, policies, projects and programmes in order to tailor them to suit the needs of the people.
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