General News of Thursday, 15 July 2010
Accra, July 15, GNA - Prof George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, Member of Parliament (MP) for Wenchi, on Wednesday said the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Bill is an un-negotiable necessity for the development of the three Northern Regions.
He said the bill would not only benefit people of the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, but the entire country.
"It is a national issue that deserves total and urgent commitment devoid of partisan political considerations," he said.
Prof Gyan-Baffour was contributing to the debate for the second reading of the SADA Bill.
Unlike the sharp resentments and bitterness that normally characterised such debates, with members from each political divide clamouring to undo each other, the level of consensus was remarkably high.
The MP said out of Ghana's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 15 billion dollars, the northern regions had only 10 per cent of it, adding that this was an unacceptable phenomenon.
He noted that while the Southern part of the country enjoyed an average of 800 dollars per capita of GDP, the northern sector of the country on the average enjoyed 300 dollars per capita.
He said given the available statistics, the south could be considered to be enjoying a middle income status but that when the south and the north were put together, the country would be drawn back to a low income status due to the disparity in development between the two sectors.
Prof Gyan-Baffour told parliamentarians to drop their political cloaks and ensure the development of the north "because the people of the north can no longer wait."
Mr Gershon Gbediame, Majority Chief Whip, said the SADA was a comprehensive development plan that would bring an additional funding besides the budget allocations to the development of the north.
He said there were many resources in the north that could be harnessed to create opportunities thereby preventing the exodus of the youth to the south for greener pastures.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister for Communications, said Article 36 of the 1992 Constitution put further obligation on the government to develop the north which he described as seriously deprived.
"The north has suffered enough deprivation," he said, adding that it was time something positive was done to reverse the situation.
He said most of the roads that linked the districts in the three regions were not motorable, food security was a problem even at a time the south enjoyed some amount of food security, and that maternal and infant mortality rates remained high.
He sated that peace was paramount if plans to develop the North must succeed, and called on the people of the North to embrace peace.
Mr Ambrose Dery, Deputy Minority Leader, said development was needed in the north to serve as a magnet to pull the city migrants back to their original homes.
"Let's do something to send the Kayaye to where she comes from," he said.
Mr Dery said government must show commitment to the resolve to develop the north and called on the people of the north to avoid conflict.
"In any war situation there is no winner," he declared, and called on all northerners to demonstrate a commitment of peace.
Mr Alhassan Azang, MP for Builsa South and Minister of State at the Presidency, said the purpose of SADA was a long-term strategic development project to ensure accelerated development within the three northern regions and some parts of the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions which could be sustainable.
He said it would create conditions that would facilitate development by reducing poverty and improve food security.