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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Columnist: Atubiga, Stephen

Atubiga's Unity And Peace Blueprints For Bawku/Binduri

My announcement in a recent interview with “The New Ghanaian Newspaper”, that I will contest for MP position in the Bawku/Binduri area continues to evoke great interest in the Kusasi/Mamprusi conflict and the peace process. The support for my candidacy to date is overwhelming. I am most honored and humbled by the outpour of support and encouragement. Many applaud this courageous move and perceive my candidacy as a ray of hope to enhance the peace initiative in the Kusasi/Mamprusi conflict. However there are those who as well raise issues with my total commitment to a comprehensive peace initiative that will reflect the interest of both Kusasis and Mamprusis alike. This article is intended to dispel any such fears of a bias approach to the peace initiative in my proposed plans when elected. It is important to state that, in as much as I strongly advocate the acceptance and respect for Kusasi values with respects to our historical and traditional claims to prominence in the Bawku area, I equally recognize and respect the efforts of notable Mamprusis in trying to aid the peace process. Regardless of the intensity of the conflict now, notable Mamprusi families and personalities such as; the Akalifa Family, the Salifu Gumars, the Yerimiya Families and all the elders and leaders of the Mamprusis deserve great respect for their input over the years. I am proud of you all my uncles, brothers, father and sisters. The legacy left by my uncle, the late Gumar (Former Upper East Regional Minister 1996-1998) is noteworthy. He stood out as a father figure for all, and helped to open developmental opportunities to not only Bawku but people in the entire region. The late Imoro Salifu (Upper Region Regional Commissioner under Busia) and Mr Suley Yerimer are no exceptions to this endeavor. These people have personally extended amicable hospitality on numerous occasions to me and my family and many others to the extent of sharing their homes and last cedi with many. I can personally recall a few years back, when due to a situation that occurred, the result of which myself and some of their kids were together arrested by the military and locked up. These respectable people did not leave me behind when they came to negotiate their kids release. The Hon. Teacher Rocks, an educationist and a peace loving man, who lost his life in the war, was committed to making sure everyone went to school in Bawku. The legend Karim Oga who also lost his life in the war was another notable Kusasi personality whose legacy of meaningful peaceful initiatives cannot be over looked. I have not made secret of the fact that some of my best friends are Mamprusis. Due to inter marriages between families, I have several uncles, aunties and cousins whom I consider dear brothers and sisters within the Mamprusi circles. These are people I love and cherish and cannot live to see them adversely affected by war and devastation. It grieves my heart that a lot of the commotion and unrest in the area is orchestrated by a few Kusasis and Mamprusis who seek to exploit the situation for one gain or the other. Part of my proposed peace initiative is to establish dialog with the progressive minded Mamprusis most of whom are family people committed to peace. I mentioned in my previous presentations to the press that, a meaningful peace initiative should commence from the grassroots. The people who have been devastated by the loss of friends and family should be at the core of any negotiations. A culture of peaceful coexistence, unity and brotherhood needs to be nurtured in the minds of the people first then everything else will fall in place. Moving forward in Bawku/Binduri, when elected, I will work towards establishing a legitimate leader amongst the Mamprusis by the Bawku Naba. Under my plan, I will establish a Mamprusis/Kusasi Youth Center. The purpose of which will be to recruit and train volunteer youth leaders from both sides to aid on a mission of educating the people on the benefits and prospects of peace in the area. Schools in the area will introduce mandatory peace studies into their curricular. National service personnel in Bawku will be trained to help elevate awareness through existing programs and others to be introduced. These trained youth and national service personnel will act as a channel through which the authorities will receive feedback on progress in this endeavor. The youth volunteers will in turn receive remuneration for their efforts through jobs and academic scholarships for educational advancement. I sincerely appreciate and applaud the relentless and progressive efforts of Honorable Dramani in his work as MP in the area. Mr. Dramani has proven himself a fighter in his struggle to maintain his seat. I am rather saddened by the accusations concerning his legitimacy. My position is that, if Honorable Dramani knows the evidence against him is true, then it would be in the interest of all for him to step down and resign so the dust will settle. In which case we will rally support and plead with the president to pardon him. However, if the accusations are unfounded, then he will have my full support to proceed with his work. As for the of MP Binduri, considering the positive relations he maintains with the chiefs and people in the area. I will adopt a more open door attitude towards all MPs in the area when elected. In furtherance of the peace process, The NPP leadership needs to apologize to the People of the northern and upper regions as a whole, especially the people of Tamale and Bawku for the rather adverse role they have played in the peace process so far. In as much as I admire the leadership of Nana Akofo Addo jr., the adverse political legacy of the UP/Busia regimes and until recently the NPP, in dealing with the Kusasi/Mamprusi conflict over the years has left a bitter taste still in our mouths. We are still in pain for all the killings in the north under the NPP. And If the NPP wants to move forward, under Nana Akufo Addo’s leadership, then he has to summon enough courage and apologize to the people of Tamale / Bawku and ask for reconciliation and forgiveness. When this is achieved, the general perception that any Kusisis joining the NPP is dining with the devil may be dispelled. Finally, a note on the controversy on the health of President Atta Mills. Mr. Mills is healthier than most doctors and MPs in Ghana today. We all react to medication differently. I have always maintained on a more positive note that, Atta Mills is by every means a gift from Allah to the people of Ghana. I would not be surprised that those who are making predictions on the future of his health may probably not be around to witness the better Ghana he is preparing for us. In any case, God forbid, should anything bad happen, we have been blessed with the leadership of an equally competent VEEP. Within these two years of leadership we have seen hospitals renovated with new ones under construction in the entire Northern region. Roads and schools are springing up from Tamale to Wa all the way to Bolgatanga. Signs of development are visible everywhere. These are all ingredients vital to a meaningful socio economic development in the Northern and Upper regions. I am therefore calling on all Northerners to lend our prayers and support to President Ata Mills and John Mahama in this endeavor. Support my candidacy for MP. All inquiries should go to atubigastephen@rocketmail.com. ALHAJI STEPHEN ATUBIGA , SOON AS MP BAWKU/BINDURI