Minister-Designate for Inner City and Zongo Development, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, has said the establishment of the Ministry for Inner City and Zongo Development is to help bridge the gap between the Zongo communities and mainstream residential areas in the country.
Speaking on GHOne TV’s current affairs program ‘State of Affairs’ hosted by Nana Aba Anamoah, the incoming minister decried people’s perception of Zongo dwellers as violent, unemployed, criminals and illiterates and indicated that it is time for a paradigm shift.
He expressed his dissatisfaction at politicians and ill-minded individuals who patronize Zongo residents for violence and chaos in society due to their vulnerabilities, urging them to desist from such acts and commit themselves to the betterment of Zongo dwellers.
In his estimation, as of 2008, there were 365 Zongos countrywide and was convinced this might have risen up to 500 currently.
Alhaji Boniface explained that the word ‘Zongo’ emanated from the Hausa dialect which means temporary residence. He said the Zongos stemmed out of a tradeoff between their grandparents in the northern region travelling across the country for businesses and as result had to set up temporary homes to facilitate their trade
According to him, developing the Zongo communities and inner cities in the country would not happen overnight and urged Ghanaians to bide their time and support his ministry to realize the New Patriotic Party’s manifesto promise of making Zongo habitations a place of good repute.
Some of the Zongo dwellers at Old Fadama in Accra and Asawase in Kumasi who joined the show in a live interview enumerated as their challenges, lack of jobs, early marriages and teenage pregnancy due to school dropouts, poor sanitation and inclement drainage systems with a call on government to intervene in the redress of these problems which have for a long time dent the image of the Zongos.
Alhaji Boniface said the Ministry of Zongo and lnner City Development which he will superintend will ensure dilapidated schools in the Zongos are upgraded to increase the enrollment of school going children, come up with reward systems and incentives for hardworking Zongo teachers to surge up their interest in providing quality tuition to pupil as well as provide technical education to Zongo dwellers who cannot afford tertiary education in areas like hair dressing, carpentry, masonry and among other trades to ensure that they are well positioned to contribute to national development.
Although, he wasn’t explicit about the timeliness for this projects, the Minister-Designate acknowledged that the project will require huge financing from stakeholder groups and government to make it a reality.
Alhaji Boniface who hinted that his appointed came to him as a surprise because there was no official communication between him and the president Akufo-Addo up until he heard his appointment announced on radio called on the Zongos to give his ministry their full cooperation to help him give the Zongos a facelift.
As a product of a Zongo community, Alhaji Boniface says that he can relate with the challenges the Zongos are facing and he is more poised and happy to be the one fronting the solutions to these enigmas.
Watch Boniface interact with Nana Aba Anamoah on State of Affairs: