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Opinions of Monday, 2 July 2012

Columnist: Kpebu, Seidu

Bawumia got it wrong on SADA

; NPP is responsible for the lack of development in northern Ghana..... history is replete with instances

By Seidu Kpebu

"Until the men of action clear out the talkers we who have social consciences are at the mercy of those who have none." George Bernard Shaw

In life, sometimes our quest for power, self-importance, livelihood and to maintain the status quo clouds our judgment which makes us have a narrow view of situations. I sincerely believe, hand on heart, that Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia did not intend chastising the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) as yet another failed promise of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

In fact he did so out of a lack of understanding of the political history of northern Ghana and a grandiose self-interest. Is he aware that the UP tradition has always opposed development initiatives for the north? One may add that he placed his personal interest well above the whole of northern Ghana (including northern Brong Ahafo and Volta regions). I will state a few NPP anti-north agenda here for Dr. Bamumia to take a clue from.

What is his position on the Northern Development Fund (NDF) which was set-up by the New Patriotic Party government under former president Kufuor? This fund I described at the time as a charity fund, albeit, non-commitment fund to develop the northern sector of the country. If the NPP had any commitment to transform the north, they would have come up with a more serious organisation or authority. Even the promised seed money of GHc25 million for the NDF turned out to be a hoax, the Kufour government never paid a dime into the accounts of the NDF.

There is a clear evidence that SADA has in less than 2 years launched and commissioned a number of projects including; a sheanut processing factory at Buipe; 100 tractors and implements inaugrated by the Vice President; road construction; support for farmers and massive investment in the Agric sector to make it commercially viable.

If Bawumia had suggested viable alternatives to SADA or aspects of the authority he thinks need improvement, clearly I would have given it a thought. However, to follow history and it is this history that is responsible for the lack of development in the north and to condemn an initiative to transform lives in the north all because one seeks power is palpably irresponsible.

The north is lacking behind because politicians like Bawumia have consistently been used to front a plot to derail development initiatives for the north. The diabolic plot has been the main policy of the UP tradition since independence. The NPP is a political party that believes that they can always use deceit to win votes in the north but not the provision of the needs of the people.

After independence, when Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah saw the need to develop the human resource base of the region to bridge the developmental gap between the north and the south and introduced the "northern scholarship scheme" the UP an antecedent of the NPP opposed it arguing that the children of cocoa farmers needed the scholarships forgetting that labourers on the cocoa farms and in the mines were of northern origin. Indeed it has been widely speculated that The Osagyefo’s vision for the north was one of the reasons why the UP tradition connived with the CIA to overthrow him.

Again when General Kutu Acheampong started building massive infrastructure in the north especially in the areas of education and Agriculture, elements in the UP opposed it vehemently and stifled his efforts.

That did not end there. In 1987 when the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) led by Chairman Rawlings was establishing the Northern Electrification Department (NED) in preparation to extend electricity to the north by December 1989, members of the now NPP were up in arms. They criticized the move saying that the Akosombo hydro-electric production, under the auspices of the Volta River Authority (VRA) could not support such nationwide expansion and extension.

If you think that is all, wait a minute, the eastern corridor road linking the south to the north through Volta region, and indeed the shortest route to northern Ghana and the land locked countries north of Ghana, is still not constructed because members of the UP think that it will cut off Kumasi and other satellite southern towns because all haulage trucks, commercial and private vehicles will prefer going through the eastern corridor to the north, saving many hours of travel times in the process and creating business for the communities along the route.

The present government has awarded it on contract and I will bet with my last dime that IF the NPP happens to come to power in January next year, the first action they will take is to cancel that contract and we will be back to the starting point.

In 2005, northern Ghana was used as one of the indicators of poverty in Ghana that qualified Ghana for the HIPC status but the NPP never used the money accrued from HIPC for any major development initiative in the north throughout the 8 year period they were in power. They conveniently hid behind the politically engineered conflicts in the north as a pretext for the lack of development.

Just this year, when the NDC government granted 250 students scholarships to go and study medicine in Cuba, there was angst and consternation in the NPP. They once again exhibited their anti-north agenda by unfairly and mischievously accusing the Vice President, John Mahama, that he gave almost all the scholarships to northerners.

In the face of all these challenges, it is worrying that, Dr. Bawumia is not supporting SADA and offering policy suggestions where he thinks needs adjustments and fine-tuning, but rather resorts to outright condemnation for political expediency.

Maybe what Dr. Bawumia needs is hands on experience on the development issues of the north as has H. E. John Dramani Mahama who cut his teeth working to bring prosperity to the people of the north. Infact legend has it that during his formative years H.E. John Mahama dirtied his hands on his father’s rice farm at Yapei farming to contribute to the food needs of Ghana and creating employment for northerners. Dr. Bawumia has to come down his high horse and interact at the community level with northerners. That is the only way he will understand the dynamics of the development needs of the north and will thus be in an informed position to comment on SADA.

History is there to guide us. Those who think that Dr. Bawumia stands for the good of the north must reconsider their stance. The perception that northerners can easily be deceived is confirmed by Chuck Kofi Wayo; and also the promise of a "Zongo Development Fund" is yet another deceptive move by the NPP. Didn't Ex-president Kufuor promise constructing a first class railway from the south linking northern Ghana in the 2000 elections? It was deceptive then as any now!

Whenever we go in for a job, we would normally ask ourselves 'what are the job prospects' for us. I wonder if Dr. Bawumia has asked himself this question; does he sincerely believe he can rise above being a running mate or Vice President in the NPP? Your answer is as good as mine…!!!