A consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations advocating the development agenda of the three regions of the north, known as the Northern Development Forum (NDF), has called for peaceful elections on December 7.

Alarmed by the myriad of chieftaincy, land, political and other related conflicts that have plagued Northern Ghana over the years, Chairman of the Northern Development Fund, Dr. Hakeem Wemah warned of dire consequences of electoral violence in the area after the December 7 polls.

The former Board Chairman of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), made the call at a news conference in Tamale, where he officially launched the 2015 Northern Ghana Development Status Report codenamed, “Sustaining the Northern Ghana development agenda in Ghana’s public domain.”

Dr. Hakeem Weimah pinpointed partisan politics as the root cause of conflicts in Northern Ghana though ethnicity, religion, language, land and chieftaincy cannot be overruled.

He said much was desired of government and development partners to address the nagging issues of poverty, unemployment, human right abuses, weak governance and inequality which make locals feel neglected at the decision making processes.

The Northern Development Forum Chairman reechoed the need for the youth of the three regions of the north to shun self seeking politicians who might clandestinely bribe them to foment trouble on elections day.

“The question of peace and stability can never be over-emphasized: it is the sine qua none of the major goals of the NDF and so we would like to call on the youth of the three regions of the north in particular to refuse to be goaded and bribed by unscrupulous, greedy and selfish politicians to cause mayhem.”

“It is most insulting and disrespectful and too callous for them to expect you to lay down your lives for their parochial interest. Yes, indeed you are brave and strong but for once let politicians and war mongers also be brave and strong and go out and fight their own fight,” he stressed.

Dr. Hakeem Weimah cautioned the media against announcing or calling election results ahead of the constitutionally mandated Electoral Commission’s responsibility.

He also challenged traditional rulers, religious and political leaders to guard against problems that could culminate into electoral disputes in their communities.

“To traditional, political, religious leaders and others who hold sway over large populations of this country, consider it is your failure and shame if any problem emanates from your constituency. You must therefore condemn violence and that you will not produce or defend anyone who falls foul of the law.”

“Let me be very candid with you that the general impression in the country about us is that we are a thoughtless, violent people. Aye the cradle of political, ethnical and occasioned religious upheavals. Any trouble in the country post-elections is predicted by all the pundits to likely come from the north,” he bemoaned.

The 2016 Development and Policy status report

According to Dr. Hakeem Weimah, the report was put together by the Northern Development Forum to satisfy concerned citizens growing demand that empirical evidence be provided them regarding the efforts being made to address Northern Ghana’s development agenda.

“Some of these demands are reaching an agitation proportion which has the potential to threaten the peace if a way is not found to give objective feedback and progress being made and suggestions for improving the development activities in the three Northern Regions of Ghana.”

“We also feel that government and development partners and political parties need objective analyses and avenues to dialogue on what needs improving the three regions in particular and the country in general,” he added.
Dr. Hakeem Weimah said the Northern Development Forum was satisfied with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPCs) 40 year .long term development plan.

He said the report recommended that the NDPC’s long term development plan should ensure equitable distribution of available resources to bridge the developmental disparities between southern and northern Ghana.

“The NDF’s expectation of this process is that of a transformational agenda that will eliminate the historical injustices and imbalances from our colonial experience. We want to see a future in which the prosperity and economic growth of our beloved country is mutually shared across all regions. It is a serious aberration that some parts of this country especially the north continues to be regarded and accepted as poor.”

“The seasonal outflow of able-bodied youth from rural areas and regions of the north to other areas in search of livelihoods and in very precarious conditions is an indictment to our nationhood.”

“We need a vision of national development that prioritizes and harnesses the full potentials of Northern Ghana and every other part of the country and such initiatives should not be tokenistic but all embracing and embedded in national development strategy,” the report highlighted.

Dr. Hakeem Weimah posited that the Northern Development Forum’s policy status report could guide policy makers in their attempt to implement the long term development plan.

“The report reflects on and proposes pragmatic considerations for policy making, national governance, resources allocation and a frame work to measure Ghana’s implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Africa Union Agenda 2063 and the proposed forty year National Development Plan.”

He recalled the first NGOs report focused on agriculture, education, energy and reconciliation and peace building.citifmonline