Politics of Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Source: GNA

Minister asks youth to be torchbearers of peaceful elections

Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba, Northern Regional Minister on Tuesday advised the youth to shun violence and ensure that the region enjoys a peaceful General Election in December.

He asked them to learn from the healthy relationship between members of parliament across the political divide.

“Look at how cordially they work together in parliament regardless of their party affiliations. They drink tea together and talk and laugh freely.

" But you harm your relationship with each other here (Northern Region) my brothers. I don’t think I can insult my political opponents directly but I can correct them when they misrepresent development figures,” he said.

Mr. Mabengba gave the advice at a day’s workshop for editors of radio stations and communication team members of political parties in the Region.

The programme was organized by Northern Ghana Aid (NOGAID), a non-governmental organization, and sponsored by STAR Ghana.

STAR Ghana is a multi-donor pool funding mechanism supported by DFID, DANIDA, USAID and EU to increase the influence of civil society and parliament in the governance of public goods and service delivery, with the ultimate goal of improving the accountability and responsiveness of government, traditional authorities and the private sector.

He suggested to the organizers of the workshop to facilitate a study tour of Parliament by representatives and foot soldiers of the parties in the region to assimilate at first hand the cordial relationship of Members of Parliament in the House’s cafeteria.

“May be when you see how happy they are together you will change your mind on violence against your political opponent. Politics is not a do or die thing. It is about the contest of ideas and programmes."

The minister entreated the people to forge unity of purpose to facilitate the development of the region.

Mr. Mabengba challenged politicians in the region to eschew politics of ethnicity and focus their campaign on issues.

Mr. Mustapha Sanah, Executive Chairman of NOGAID noted that it was shameful and illogical but also a stark reality that conflicts were always associated with the North.

He listed the protracted chieftancy conflict involving Abudu and Andani Royal Families, and flash points such as Gushiegu and Chereponi as examples.

“I need not go into the genesis of such conflicts although the devastating effect is obvious to all of us. Anybody who had stayed in our beloved Region would bear with me that there is gaping poverty starring at the people and thereby undermining their socio-economic development.

“I believe it is quite obvious that any battle that Northerners hope to expend their energies on should obviously be the fight against poverty, ignorance and deprivation and not war over lands, cultural superiority and other narrow excuses for killing one another,” he said.

Mr. Sanah said the region needed re-branding to chart a better course ahead. he said, “ We are not branding ourselves well. We have the highest illiteracy rate, we are too careless about opportunities given to us to help our kith and kin, and go to war among ourselves too soon and too often without the right of reasons", he said.

He asked the participants to resolve that they would approach the December 7 polls in a peaceful, violent- free, credible and democratic manner, and with one voice, “ask our chosen political heads to respond to our needs and demands for socio-economic development”.

“We should replace our political zealousness and fanaticism with conscious study of the political manifestoes of the various political parties and exercise our franchise for the party that is ready to meet our development expectations.

“Let us therefore turn the numerous political party pavilions and sheds, which are fertile grounds for political disputes and violence in our region, into a place for demanding accountable stewardship and equitable development.”

Mr. Sanah said the world was watching Ghana “whether we can once again successfully emerge in the December polls as political torchbearers of democracy in the sub-region. Let us set the platform to set an example for conflict-prone countries in Africa that yes we can make it”.

The workshop equipped regional youth organizers and communication team members of the National Democratic Congress, Progressive People’s Party, People’s National Congress, New Patriotic Party and Convention People’s Party as well as editors of radio stations with good communication skills.

It aims at impacting positively on their campaigns and rallies and eliminate intemperate and vulgar language as well as negative incidents that are likely to bring about violent conflicts and instability in the region.**