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General News of Friday, 22 January 1999

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Alabi meets religious leaders

Tamale (Northern Region), 22 Jan '99 -

The Archbishop of Tamale, The Right Reverend Gregory Kpienbaya, has called on the government to prevail on the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to decentralize the processing of payment of pension benefits.

He said the centralization of the processing of social security benefits to pensioners undermines the decentralization process and encourages bribery and corruption "because some of the scheduled officers demand bribe before they process a pensioner's document".

It also brings undue hardship to those who have to travel to Accra and stay there for several days before their pension documents are processed.

Archbishop Kpienbaya was speaking at a meeting of religious leaders in Tamale with the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Joshua Alabi, on strategies to move the region forward. It was attended by Imams and Church leaders.

The minister had earlier met chiefs, youth leaders and heads of political parties.

The Archbishop said most of the problems in the region are the result of high poverty and urged the government not to pay lip service to its poverty alleviation programme.

He said the uncontrolled trade liberalization has killed local initiatives and appealed to the government to evolve new strategies of revamping local industries and agriculture.

Sheikh Issahaq Tanko, Iman at the Ambariyya Mosque in Tamale, commended Mr Alabi for organising such a meeting and appealed to him to regularise it to enable religious leaders to be part of the development process of the region.

He appealed to the Regional Coordinating Council to give priority to resolving the acute water problem in the municipality which, he said, discourages prospective investors from even visiting Tamale.

Alhaji Tanko asked the regional minister to prevail on TAYSEC construction to expedite work on the Tamale roads rehabilitation project and install streetlights on completed roads.

He said that though every electricity consumer in Tamale pays for streetlights, there is no single light in the municipality.

TAYSEC has been constructing an 80 kilometre road in Tamale for the past 10 years. Mr Alabi appealed to the religious leaders to cooperate with the security agencies to enable them to regain their confidence in their effort to address the state of lawlessness in the region.