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Feature Article of Friday, 13 January 2012

Columnist: Assam, Balemwo

Upper East Regional Minister Must Resign!

The Upper East RegionalMinister Mark Woyongo with the connivance of some antagonist of peace in the region just initiated a move to plant hostility among peaceful neighbors who have lived together since time in memory without any iota of problem between them.

The communities the minister’s trying to sow the seed of contention were all with the District of Kasena Nankana East with Navrongo as its capital, until the past administration created this new district called Kasena Nankana West Council. Consequently Paga was chosen as the seat of the capital based on protracted feasibility studies in conjunction with excessive consultations with the natives and their elders.

And now according to the regional minister, the government has given authorization for one district to be additionally created in that area. So the regional minister feels the area should be re-demarcated again.

In the presence of the Paramount Chief of Paga and some of his elders, the minister had the chutzpah to marginalize the people of Paga together with their Paramount Chief. With an assertion that, the areas of the present District Chief Executive of the New Kasena Nakana West District being Chiana should be given a district and the areas of Shirigo/Mirigo should also be given a district.

In conclusion, Paga being the capital of the New District should rather be stripped of its present status and be assimilated or integrated into the Navrongo District again. We are still at a loss to find reasons why the minister initiated that move. What on earth have the people of Paga done to disserve this broad day light marginalization from this politician who thought we are in totalitarian era? Why do you want to create another chaotic condition in a peaceful environment? In a pugnacious posture, the minister clearly delivered this retrogressive message to the people of Paga without a minute compunction in his voice. The effrontery of the minister’s behavior was unimaginable. Mr. Woyongo behaved as if, it’s at his mercy the people of Paga draw oxygen to exist on this universe. His haughty nauseating attitude was unbelievable!

Hypothetically, if the new district’s created and Mr. Woyongo’s removed from his present position as the Regional Minister and appointed to be one of the Assembly members in the new district, how will he feel? That’s exactly what he told the people of Paga and their Chief. The conventional golden rule in this world’s, you don’t do to people what you don’t want to be done to you. If this is not marginalization then, I don’t know how to best elucidate the ministers assertion. But, what’s apodictic the people of Paga wants the minister including those sitting on the fringes to comprehend is that; we are never going to relinquish our autonomous district to any area, be it under the sun, under the moon or beneath the waters.

We the people of Paga have got a district and it’s called Kasena Nankana West District. The people of Paga will never give away our self governing district to any area. Not in our life time, it’ll never happen period! Paga did not get the district by expropriating it from other areas. The district was given to them through appropriate channels by the government. How can you strip a district without any legal support and shift the district to other areas simply because, you as an individual think that should be done? Does the minister understand the chaos he wanted to create?

This is a minister who an area under his jurisdiction is embroiled in a war being Bawku, a war that has claimed a lot of precious lives, destroyed so many properties and still intermittently, ferociously raging on with no permanent solution in sight. As a result of this war in Bawku, millions of cedis that could be channeled into needed infrastructure in the area, have been diverted into peace keeping operations to prevent further escalation of the conflict. May the souls those who lost their lives in this conflict, rest in peace.

Not satisfied with these problems in the region which is draining the nation’s resources, Mr Woyongo has taken another deliberate step to create another war by knocking heads of these peaceful communities together. Telling the communities about his intention to create some districts and merging some as if we are in dictatorial regime and not in a democratic rule. This brings to mind some time ago, some students who debated about the free education made available to the then Upper Region and Northern Region at the University of Legon. Sections of the students thought it was unreasonable to give only those two regions that privilege and some thought it was reasonable due to the poor climatic proclivity of that part of the country.

Whiles they were debating, a renowned lecturer I totally respect due to his standard of skill in his profession and his wisdom humbly interjected. He said before he proceeds with his opinion, he wanted those who support the free education given to the two Northern and Upper Regions to raise their hands, and some sections of the students raised their hands. He requested that, those who oppose free education for the aforementioned regions to raise their hands and a cross section of the students raised their hands. So he finally requested, for those who oppose free education for the entire nation to raise their hands. And none of the students raised their hands in opposition. There he laughed whole heartedly and asked, so those who oppose the free education for the two Northern Regions would also like to have free education too? There the students answered in affirmative yes! At that point, he admonished the students and I quote, “we cannot build a prosperous nation with this puerile pessimistic mentality. If we think some sections of the nation have something we also need, we should petition the government to extend same to those of us who don’t have but, not to take away from those who are enjoying it”.

I totally agree with this noble lecturer because, you cannot mill all the tarred roads in Accra simply because your town does not have a tarred road. You cannot take away all the street lights in Kumasi or at Sekondi-Takoradi and send them to your town simply because your hamlet does not have street lights. We cannot dismantle the rail lines from Dunkwa to Awaso and construct them from Paga to Kajelo because we also need such. Hell no, we can’t do that! The best way to move forward is to petition government to extend those developments to our places too. How can we advance a nation with this dangerous puerile pessimistic mentality that, if I don’t have something, I should find a way to take it away from those who have it?

I say this because, not all educated people have the wisdom to advance the course of events positively especially in dire situations. In selecting our leaders, EDUCATION IN CONJUNCTION WITH WISDOM must be the guiding factor for selecting them else, we’ll not successfully advance in our effort to build a dependable nation for our children. And that’s exactly what the lecturer was trying to advice the students and that was wisdom. How can a leader be interested in supervising chaos and trying to create more to gain notoriety? In spite of the fact that we have Tono and Vea irrigation Dams with abundant water in that region, it’s unthinkable that till date most of the areas in this region have no pipe borne water. People in this region still trudge carrying water on their heads to their respective houses as if we are still in the medieval world. Scanty sections of the areas that enjoy pipe borne water, endure insomnia to get water into their houses.

The region in which the minister is trying to create chaos instead of finding every means possible to develop the area, if two cars meet at most parts of that region one of the cars must drive into the rampikes for the other car to pass. With this situation going on, they have a yearly budget to throw funds away into gravely roads with a funny name they call “feeder roads”.

These paths/roads are reserved only to create excuses to consume funds that can be traced to potholes and dusty unmotorable paths they called roads. Why won’t they tar the roads even if it’s one mile every year? No, they will never do that because, that will stop bleeding of the national budget and they don’t like that to happen. In this Upper East Region, apart from the roads leading to major towns, there are no tarred roads in this part of the country yet, the minister‘s not in any way worried about this anomaly in the 21st century. The minister’s not trying to address these problems facing the region but rather trying to create more chaos. So that he will be the cynosure of the media.

The farmers at the Tono and Vea irrigation dams are suffocating with debts to their banks. There’s a lot the minister can do to assist them from their present strangulation but he rather choose to inflame peaceful people for no apparent reason. For example, the minister can reduce tariffs on the use of the irrigation facilities. He can reduce prices of the fertilizer. He can seek for funds with lower interest rates for the farmers. He can seek for better profitable outlets for the farmers to sell their produce. A lot more can be done to help our poor hard working famers in that area who have been neglected to their faith. These are some of the things the minister should be doing as a leader not negatively inflaming intense emotions of the people.

If out of that transient position the minister occupies today, he feels very confident and bold enough to tell us in the face how he intend to be contumelious to the people of Paga and their Paramount Chief. Resolutely, we will not blink to tell him in the face that he should not only think but he must cogitate before he utter words that will affect other people’s lives. Based on his intemperate disposition, it’s the first step we have voluntarily decided to admonish him. It has never happened in the political history of this country anywhere that, the government has to collapse two districts to create the third one. For example, when the government thought it proper to create the Nabdam district, they did not collapse the Bolga Municipal Assembly and Talense-Nabdam District to create the third one. They went ahead and created the Nabdam District. History has always been a guide for us to do things right.

We have followed through to the corridors of power to ascertain reasons for the minister’s untenable jolt and the response was excessively heartwarming. Every Government needs peace to advance their programs. So, we are very confident our Governments have always been peaceful and will never support this arm chair administration in the Upper East Region spear headed by Mr. Woyongo who’s deliberately trying to churn out anarchy. The Kasena Nankana West District with its capital being Paga has come to stay forever and you the minister or any of your accomplices cannot do anything about it. Let this sound very loud and clear to the minister including those sitting on the fringes that, we are never going to succumb to any of your retrogressive agenda in any part of our neighborhood. If Mr. Woyongo feels other areas need autonomous districts, it’ll be a public recognition and accolade for him to lead them to find those districts but, not the untouchable district given to the people of Paga.

Additionally, we are fully cognizant of the District Chief Executive’s scheming and his lackluster attitude towards any development coming to Paga. At the appropriate time and venue we will address those pertinent issues. The people of Paga are taciturn by nature but that has nothing to do with stupidity. It’s their nature because, they cherish peace. Finally, the Chieftaincy institution is a respectful body with a complete ministry at its disposal, to facilitate in the smooth governance of the country. This proves the Government and the people of Ghana have outmost respect for our Chiefs so, for the minister to address the people of Paga in that pugnacious disrespectful tone in the presence of their Paramount Chief was too overwhelmingly painful to contain. The Paramount Chief of Paga’s the embodiment of the people of Paga and for the minister to make such regretful contemn pronouncements in his presence was an insult to the Paramount Chief and the people of Paga. For that reason, Mr. Woyongo owes an apology to the Paramount Chief and the people of Paga in public in the same manner he disrespectfully addressed them. Stealthily sneaking to the Palace in the darkness of the night or sending a letter to apologize will not be accepted. His regretful action on that faithful day has undermined his ability (especially in the eyes of the people of Paga) to govern all the people fairly under his jurisdiction. If Mr. Woyongo can overtly make such inflammatory demeaning statements that have the potential to lead peaceful people into chaos then, we tend to seriously doubt his ability to bring peace amongst people who are already fighting. Peace’s the core of our being but, the behavior of the minister left us with no choice than to vent our frustrations in public in the same manner he addressed us. The people of Paga will always as usual continue to forge ahead in unity, for the ultimate purpose of peaceful coexistence with all our neighbors at all times. Having said that, it’s our believe that, whoever makes such public pronouncements consciously to inflame sectors of the community to create chaos, especially being a minister does not disserve a ministerial portfolio. Therefore the Upper East Regional minister Mr. Woyongo should honorably resign from his position because, he has lost the confidence we reposed in him.

Balemwo Assam

balemwo@yahoo.co.uk Washington DC

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