Monday, August 13, 2007
We are Ghanaians first
– ALIU MAHAMA
On Saturday, July 28, 2007 the Houses of Chiefs of the three northern regions, namely Northern, Upper East and Upper west, honoured some citizens of the three regions who have distinguished themselves in various endeavours of life. The Vice-President, Alhaji aliu Mahama who was one of those honoured was also the Guest Speaker. We publish below, the full text of his speech.
NAA CHAIRMAN; Members of the Council of State; Ministers of State; Members of Parliament; Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Distinguished Chiefs; Fellow Award Winners; Distinguished Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the award recipients, whom I would like to refer to as my friends, or friends of the north I wish to thank the chiefs and people of the three northern regions for the great honour done us.
I feel overwhelmed, privileged and humbled all at once. I would not be surprised if my friends feel the same. This is because recognition by ones’ peers is probably the highest accolade a servant of the people could aspire to.
Naa Chairman, I believe my friends join me in congratulating the chiefs of northern Ghana for this brilliant initiative. It is remarkable that they have achieved the Herculean task of bringing together the diverse traditional areas and peoples of the north to unite behind the grand purpose of honouring sons of the soil.
Contrary to common perceptions, the three northern regions are not the same. While the characteristics of savanna vegetation and rain fed agriculture are common, the vast land area is peopled by many different tribes and cultures with diverse traditions.
In successfully bringing these rich traditions together, our chiefs have confirmed once again the adage that unity is strength. Our unity in diversity is what has brought us this far. This unity in diversity is what will take us into the future.
It was not so long ago, ladies and gentlemen, that our forefathers and chiefs in the north contributed massively to the political liberation of Ghana. Today, a call for unity and strength should be seen as a call for effective participation in the development processes of Ghana.
A united and strong north can make its voice heard. I urge our revered chiefs to wake up with one voice and fight poverty and hunger. The people of the north would love to hear their chiefs unite behind a national call for increased investment in transport, health and educational infrastructure as well as modernized agriculture.
Having said that, Naa Chairman, it is important to acknowledge the steps the NPP government is taking in bringing development to the north. The ultra modern Tamale Stadium is reputed to be the single largerst investment in the north since independence. Apart from beautifying the city of Tamale, it is expected to create other jobs in infrastructure and tourism.
Government has recently commissioned a bridge to link the so-called overseas area in West Mamprusi. The Bole Bamboi road will soon be completed. These projects will open up the Upper West Region and a hitherto inaccessible part of the Northern Region to the rest of the country, creating opportunity for better marketing of goods to and from the south.
Moreover, the Upper East Region is set to receive a boost when rehabilitation of the Tono Irrigation Scheme takes off. Furthermore, government is pursuing the strategic policy of providing small scale dams; irrigation pumps and timely credits to farmers for plowing services and other inputs to support farming activities all year round.
Such interventions will reduce youth unemployment ant help stem north-south migration.
Ladies and Gentlemen, many basic schools have been built and several secondary/technical schools upgraded. Also, provision of infrastructure is on course in the University of Development Studies.
While we have government and the international donor community to thank for the laudable progress being made, it is my sincere believe that two to three per cent more growth could be generated for development if we were more disciplined with the resources at hand.
Poor attitudes towards work and public property contribute to our state of endemic poverty. I am an advocate for discipline because I believe it will empower us mentally and make us confident enough to better coordinate and implement effective national development plans.
A disciplined attitude would also enhance respect for rights and the rule of law, thereby ensuring better enforcement of the regulations that are meant to order our society.
Brothers and sisters, please permit me to re-emphasize that discipline is a virtue that ought to be taken up by all Ghanaians. A disciplined nation is likely to be prosperous. A prosperous Ghana belongs to all.
We are one people, irrespective of religion, tribe, political affiliation or social status. Whether one is a Muslim, Christian or Traditionalist, Ghana is big enough to accommodate all of us.
In this regard, Brothers and Sisters, I stand for all. Instead of looking for a northerner, southerner, Christian or Muslim, we should be looking for a Ghanaian first. As Ghanaians faithful to our secular constitution, equitable development ought to be the desire and pride of all.
In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, friends of the north, I wish to encourage the Chiefs and people to make these awards an annual event. That way, other unsung heroes will also see the light of day.
Long live Ghana May God Bless Us All.
Daily Graphic - Monday, August 13, 2007 Page: 23