President John Dramani Mahama, says development of education still remains one of the biggest challenge that confronts the people of northern Ghana and could spell doom of the future if not tackled now.
He said dwindling performance of basic and second cycle schools remained a serious concern to the leadership of the three northern regions.
He said while government was not relenting on its efforts at providing educational infrastructure, equipment and sponsorship of students, there was the need to encourage “our young brothers and sisters to push hard to achieve greater heights on the educational ladder.
President Mahama expressed the concern in a speech read on his behalf at the Fourth Edition of the Northern Youth for Peace and Development (NYUDEP) National Achievers Awards of which the President was a beneficiary.
Twenty-three others, made up of traditional rulers and chief executives of public institutions and agencies, as well as private businessmen and women whose socio-political, economic and cultural achievements engendered peace in the three regions of the north were also awarded.
President Mahama urged the people to encourage professional teachers and other specialists to show a high sense of commitment to their work.
“We should also design strategies to attract other professionals to join forces to speed up the development of this area through constant interaction and investment in areas which would raise the living standards of our people,” he advised.
President Mahama also identified the operation of illegal mining (galamsy) as an emerging challenge in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions which consequences were devastating the environment and causing more ecological challenges.
The activities of illegal mining had also brought in its wake the incidence of teenage pregnancies, armed robbery, drunkards and gamblers and government’s efforts at regulating the small scale mining had been undermined by the operators.
He said government was considering measures to manage the menace, and urged people with interest in small-scale mining businesses to go for licence to enable them to operate legally.
“We need to regulate their activities in order to protect the environment and also develop other livelihood empowerment programmes for our unfortunate brothers and sisters who engage in such risky activities”, President Mahama said.
President Mahama urged NYUPED to remain focused on its core objectives of the maintenance of peace and the development of the three northern regions by getting everybody on board to buy into the idea of sustenance of peace especially as Ghana was about to enter into an election year.
Prince Hardi Adams, Executive Director of NYUDEP, appealed to the government to consider constructing a railway line from the south to the north to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services, as well as help in the economic transformation of the north.
The NYUDEP Director also urged government to give attention to cotton, sheanut and mango production in northern Ghana in the same way as cocoa and other economic fruits because the area had the potentials for large-scale production of those crops for exports.
Prince Adams encouraged government to allocate adequate resources to the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) so that it could deliver on its mandate.
He reminded government that resourcing SADA should not affect the main resource allocation to the three northern regions for their mainstream development.
Prince Adams, however, took a swipe at northern politicians and public office holders, accusing them of neglecting the people after they had voted them into power
“The plight of these already impoverished people are worsen by the greedy attitude of these politicians who have or are building mansions for themselves in the south to the detriment of their people”, he lamented.
He urged people in the communities in the three northern regions to vote for God-fearing candidates in the forthcoming National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary primaries, and not “Journey men who will take advantage of their votes to usher themselves into elite class of selfish and self-seekers.”
The awardees were drawn across Ghana and they included some revered traditional rulers, namely: Professor Naa John Nabila, President of National House of Chiefs, Naa Dr. Puore Puobi Chiir, Overlord Nandom Traditional Authority, – Naa Angsoleh Ganaa, Overlord of Jirapa Traditional Council, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka, Overlord of Bawku Traditional Authority and Chief Cheek Binalibemi Kambonja, Overlord of Komkombas Traditional Authority.
Some successful businessmen and women, as well as Chief Executives of Public Authorities and Agencies, especially Prince Alwalaleed Bin Talal BinAbdul-Aziz Alsaud, Executive Chairman of Kingdom Holding, Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Nazim K. Karroum, Executive Chairman of Simir Engineer and Trading Company, Alhaji Adam Issahaku, Founder/Managing Director of Haj Adams Clinic, Alhaji Sulaila Mesuna, Executive Chairman/Founder of Naagamni Oil Ghana Limited and Madam Lydia Lariba Bawa, Commissioner State Insurance Commission were among others awardees.
The NYUDEP instituted the awards to salute national icons whose socio-political, economic and cultural achievements and contributions engendered peace in the three northern regions.