Regional News Mon, 3 Jul 2006

Fight poverty, disease and conflicts- Veep task Northerners

Accra, July 3, GNA- Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has noted that the enemy confronting the Northern Region is not about rival chieftains nor territorial expansionism, but how to eradicate poverty, disease and ignorance.

Making specific reference to Gonjas, he said they should not emulate Ndewura Jakpa, who founded Gonjaland through wars and conquest, but must rather strive to bring development to their traditional area. Vice President Alhaji Mahama made the observation at the weekend when he addressed this year's annual celebration of the Damba festival organised by the Gonjaland Youth Association in Accra.

He said: " In doing so the weapons required are not spears, bows and arrows. You need education to overcome these challenges." " I hope this festival will continue to promote understanding, mutual respect, trust and tolerance among the different ethnic groups in Gonjaland. Your diversity should be a source of strength to you and not an outlet for disunity".

Vice President Alhaji Mahama said the festival was a welcoming break from the routine bad news of burning huts and communal clashes and admonished members of the Association to keep off from chieftaincy and other communal conflicts.


He said the festival, which had its roots in Islam should motivate Gonjas to pool resources to advance the cause of development. "In this connection, I would also urge you to take advantage of some government intervention policies in the Youth Sector. Farming is the core business up North. As youth leaders, encourage your members to form companies and businesses in order to access the Export Development Investment Fund.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama lauded the theme for the festival: " Our Culture is Peace," as most appropriate stressing: " Peace, stability, consensus building and harmony are some of the critical values that are inbuilt in the organisation of our social systems." He said such values provided the structures and mechanisms for resolving misunderstandings and conflict in the communities. Vice President Alhaji Mahama asked the Youth Association to conduct health educational campaigns on environmental sanitation and personal hygiene in their communities to save the people from preventable diseases like guineaworm.

Mr Alhassan Baba Darison, Greater Accra Branch President of the Association said the festival was meant to promote the culture of Gonjas as an additional tourism product besides the Mole Game Reserve in Damongo, the Mystic Stone at Laribanga and the Slave Market at Salaga. He expressed regret that Northerners had allowed themselves to be divided by politics, adding that unfortunately most of the casualties associated with Election 2004 were recorded in the Northern Upper East and Upper West regions. Mr Darison asked Government to rehabilitate all inaccessible roads in Gonjaland, adding: "After many years of independence no vehicle can enter Daboya for example". GNA JA

Source: GNA