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Opinions of Thursday, 9 June 2011

Columnist: Wumpini, Hardi S.

The Echo of NPP Agenda for the Northern Ghana


We write not just as residents from the three Northern Regions in Ghana, but as citizens of our beloved country, Ghana. Our aim is to respond to the unfortunate statements made about Northerners in Ghana by the NPP Member of Parliament for Fanteakwa, Kwabena Amankwah Asiamah and to make clear to Ghanaians, the NPP agenda towards development in the Northern Regions which Mr Asiamah has decided to make public.

Mr Asiamah’s comments on radio that “Northerners have turned the North into breeding grounds of violence”, clearly represent the diabolical views of a silent minority of Ghanaians whose attitude towards the people living the Northern Regions in Ghana is creating serious worries for most Ghanaians. We all know the NPPs ability to use propaganda to deceive and buy public support in order to foster their political agenda. But for Mr Asiamah to make such unguarded comments and statements to justify underdevelopment in the North smack in the face of social justice.

We believe such political propaganda statements reflect intentions, concerted as well as sustained efforts by successive governments, notably the NPP, to subdue the people of the North and to keep the Region in perpetual poverty. This is a sign of a clear disrespect and flagrant insult to the integrity of the conscience of Ghanaians and Northerners in particular. The property owning ideology of the NPP as echoed by the MP means that the party and its supporters (the Akanfour) will do anything to enrich themselves including sustaining the poverty in the North for their own benefit.. Clear examples are there to support this point, three of which we shall discuss here.

Upon assuming office in 2001, the NPP government cited the underdevelopment and the predicament of the people of the North as a case to support the NPP government’s bid to go HIPC. This was a success but unfortunately, as against the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2003-2005 in which more than half of the HIPC Fund was to be spent on the North, only 17% of HIPIC funds was spent on the entire North Regions, whilst 83% was spent on projects in Southern parts of the country. (Klineken and Zan 2008). Come to think of the Ghana School Feeding programme (GSFP) of the NPP administration which was meant to be a policy targeted at the “Hunger Hotspots” in the three Northern Regions, but eventually became a national policy for political purposes.

A research carried out by Klinken and Zan revealed that 70% of the HIPIC funds received by the NPP government was allocated to Greater Accra, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions, with the three Northern Regions receiving only 7%. The last but one of the most obvious cases supporting the claim that the NPP is not and can never be a party that will develop the North is the case of the administration of the Millennium Challenge Account given to Ghana by the US government.
The pact was meant to support agriculture in the North to reduce poverty by way of agribusiness development. It is a known fact that the North is home of agricultural produce in the country, with 72% its people depending on farming for livelihood compared to 44% in the South. Yet the people of the North have no basic amenities of life such decent housing, drinking water, good roads, schools and health posts. Despite these shortcoming and the role that poverty and underdevelopment in the North played for securing the HIPIC funds, only five (5) districts of the north were selected to benefit from the Farmer Based Organisations(FBOs) of the MCA in the country out of twenty-three 23 districts nationwide. With the above stated facts if Kwabena Amankwah Asiamah says Northerners do not need are violent and lazy and do not need a share of the national cake to improve their condition of life, he is actually not making a personal point, but rather stating the political agenda of the NPP party, as Klinken and Zan rightly pointed out in discussing the polices of the NPP regime:
The paradox here is that the continued neglect of ‘the Northern problem’ comes in the guise of ‘national policies’, not discrimination between regions. Economic policies are characterised by liberalisation and giving free reign to private actors… The private sector may indeed be the engine of economic growth. But in the north that engine does not just require oiling; some of the major parts are not in place to make it fully function.
Such has been the attempt of NPP propaganda to keep the North subdued and blind Ghanaians to the obvious realities affecting the Region and the overall development of the country. Even though Nana Akomea, Director of communication of NPP came out to vehemently reject the accusations made by the MP, they must know that Ghanaian listeners are not living in the land of the deaf unless he wants to tell us that, we are ignorant to the extent that we cannot even decipher insults from praises. The unqualified apology from the MP and the NPP he belongs to is well noted and we think this is just part of the propaganda.
Educational disparity and the gap between the South and the North have historical and political connotations which explain reasons and the concerted efforts by the NPP to undermine the development of the North. We now have a better understanding of the reasons why the North is where it is today economically. Klinken and Zan argue that, “in the mid-1950s the entire north had six (6) students attending secondary schools and one (1) in the university”. It therefore does not surprise us that when the NPP came to power in 2001, some key members of the party called for and attempted to stop the educational scholarship endowment instituted by the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah to help lift the North from poverty.

Northerners have never and will never be spoon fed by any tribe or party in Ghana, in fact we are the most trusted hard working citizens of this great nation. If Northerners are lazy as the NPP MP seeks to portray, why is it that every political party in this country seeks to engage a Northerner as vice president? We know Nana Akufo Addo is looking very hard for a vice presidential candidate from the North. It’s about time the North came out to reject this use and dump attitudes of parties in Ghana, especially the NPP which will pick vice presidential candidates from the North and dump them when they want to contest to lead the party. We are aware of the manipulations that went on in the NPP camp to dump the then vice president Aliu Mahama in favour of Kuffour’s favourite Alan Kyeremanteng.
Granted that education is one of the most important tools for national development, it is the responsibility of any progressive government to provide and promote sound educational policies as well as infrastructure that will help its people to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to develop their potentials.
In the eyes of the NPP developing the North will be detrimental to the party’s interest; the North must be left as labour market and a reference point for them to use in securing grants to develop the South and enrich themselves by acquiring properties. The NDC has given the North a university, a Teaching Hospital, polytechnics, more SHS, JHS and agro businesses. The NPP and their sponsored Northern youth cronies, notably Northern Youth for Peace and Development are raising frivolous issues and kicking against (SADA) and anything that brings development to the North. At least the NDC government has fulfilled its manifesto pledge to the people of the North by creating SADA and releasing US $ 25 million as seed money for development programmes in the North. Our question is what did the NPP do for the people of the North after 8 years in Government?

Northerners including the so-called youth groups used by NPP to achieve their diabolic political must wise up to know their enemies and reject their cheap propaganda and support the course of development and prosperity for all.

Hardi S. Wumpini (President)
Voice of the North (VON)