Northern Patriot in Research and Advocacay (NORPRA), a Civic Organization working to promote social justice and equity, has stressed the need for the winner in the presidential run-off election to honour the pledge to bridge the gap between the northern and southern parts of the country.
Mr Bismark Ayorogo Adongo, President of NORPRA, made the call on Tuesday at a public forum organized in Bolgatanga on the need for fairness and equity in development across the country.
He noted that the three northern regions had been deprived for far too long and special attention should be given to the area to narrow the development gap.
“Ghana cannot boast of development when the three northern regions, which form part of the country, are being marginalized and deprived,” he stressed.
Mr Adongo said a lot of empirical evidence from both the state and non-state institutions indicated that the northern regions were poorest of the poor, citing the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS), the Ghana Poverty Strategy I and II and Send Foundation Report on HIPC Funds among others.
Mr Adongo said the Millennium Challenge Account, which was meant to target the poorest regions to improve their livelihoods, excluded the entire Upper East and Upper West Regions and a good number of districts in the Northern Region.
He explained that the President’s Special Initiative (PSI) captured in the 2002 Budget Statement and the Economic Policy of the government as a pro-poor policy excluded the three Northern Regions, which were actually the poorest.
Mr Adongo said in 2004, the government spent one trillion old cedis for mass spraying of cocoa and did not devote similar amounts to promote shea-butter extraction in the north which was of equally important value on the international market.
He expressed dissatisfaction about the formula used by the National Secretariat of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) in its selection process, and said properly endowed schools in the southern sectors were rather benefiting whereas the north which was poorer had fewer schools benefiting.
Mr Adongo asked the party that would win the 28 December run-off election not to pay lip services to the development of the north.
Mr Adongo said as a Civic Organization, NORPRA would take any of the two parties that won the election on, if it failed to deliver on its promises of bridging the gap between the north and the south.
Mr Seth Azusiyine, Secretary to NORPRA said one of the major means of addressing poverty and bridging the gap between the two areas was through education.
He asked that the formula used by the National Secretariat of GSFP for the selection of beneficiary schools be reviewed to give more room for schools in the northern regions.
Mr Azusiyine explained that the GSF programme, the initiative of the United Nations and NEPAD was aimed at helping Ghana to attain the Millennium Development Goals, especially in the area of hunger and poverty, universal primary education and gender equality.
He asked the GSFP Secretariat to reverse the trend by including more schools in the northern regions on its programme.