Following the recent heavy rains and the annual spillage of excess water from the Bagre dam of Burkina Faso, Northern Ghana (Upper East, Upper West & Northern Region), have been the subject of news (local and international) reportage for the past three weeks for all the negative reasons.
Several damages have been recorded and still counting, with farms being submerged, homes and schools completely ripped apart and livelihoods affected with about 30 lives reportedly lost.
pEleven years ago in 2007, a similar fate befell Northern Ghana. It was worse then, which attracted national uproar and the attention of the international donor community. There was generally a national consensus that the 2007 northern floods exposed the effects of the huge development gap between Northern and Southern Ghana, which is trite knowledge in any case, but has been a refrain at best to our leaders.
In response, the Kufour government commissioned a technical committee led by Dr. Charles Jebuni and Dr. Sule Gariba to coordinate and develop a long term development strategy to bridge the North-South Gap. The Government at that time also pledged a seed capital of 25 million Ghana cedis to fund the strategy (The work of the Jebuni-Gariba committee led to the Northern Development strategy blueprint with a vision of a green and forested north).
When the Northern Development blueprint was completed and submitted to government, the 2008 elections were at our doorsteps. The New Patriotic Party led by its flagbearer Nana Akufo Addo (Governing party candidate) with full knowledge of the contents of the Northern Development Strategy, came up with the idea of the Northern Development Authority (NoDA) to oversee the effective implementation of the strategy document.
The main opposition NDC party at the time initially pooh-poohed the proposal of the governing party and accused it of not having the welfare of the North at heart. The NDC subsequently tabled a counter proposal of Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) which was marketed to the people of the North. After a nerve-racking election, the NDC won and formed government on January 7, 2009.
Much was expected of the NDC to implement their much touted accelerated development strategy for the savanna region. The results of how the political elite used the SADA program to enrich themselves during the Mills-Mahama era and thereby making Northern Ghana even much poorer is well written.
Northern Ghana development was once again a huge political issue in both the 2012 and 2016 general. The NPP again re-emphasized its commitment to help bridge the development gap between the North and South. Strangely however, the strategy of using a Special Purpose Vehicle in the form of Northern Development Authority (NoDA) was not to be, as that same vehicle was to be replicated in the middle and coastal belts of Ghana; thereby diluting the original intent of positive discrimination and channeling additional resources to help bridge their much touted development gap between north and south.
The NPP as the originators of the NoDA concept and the facilitators of the Northern Development Strategy with 25 million Ghana cedis seed capital, lost power in 2008. But having returned, we have not yet seen any intentional move. They need to prove it by moving from the tokenism to real concrete actions.
In effect, the strategic blueprint developed post 2007 Northern Ghana floods with the sole aim of pumping additional resources from both the donor community and government sources to help bridge the North-South divide suffered a stillbirth. Yet the circumstances that brought about the effort to help the North are still rife eleven years after the 2007 devastating floods.
The political elite of Ghana has taken the patience of the people of the north for granted. The people of the north have not been angry enough over this utter deceit and the use of their situation for political gain by the two leading political parties (NPP & NDC).
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
The political elite must be told. Young people of the North and traditional authorities must RISE and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Northern Ghana must benefit from the resources of this country on equal measure through positive discrimination.
Northern Ghana does not need tokenism and handouts (Bawumia donates GHC5,000 each to Bagre Dam spillage victims (2018-09-23).
Northern Ghana requires significant investments in infrastructure (roads, agricultural mechanized dams/pipes not dugouts to support all year farming, Farmer mechanization centres and youth agriprenuer schemes to support young people, investment in hospitals and schools, a comprehensive solution to the perennial floods of the Bagre dam spillage etc.
Northern Ghana infrastructure is at an all-time poor and perilous situation exacerbating the poverty situation which have now become an annual statistical ritual for NGOs to conduct, organize workshops to tell the percentages, drink tea and go home with per diems.
This is a travesty and a scar on our national psyche that the people of the North have since Guggisberg been drawers of water and hewers of wood – a blatant and deliberate affront of their fundamental human rights to live a life of dignity and respect.
One may seem to pose with a sigh, WHAT HAVE WE DONE WRONG?
By: Nashiru Kanton, A son of the North