The Chiefs and people of the Gonja Traditional Areas in the Northern Region are now hoping for nothing, but massive infrastructural and socio-economic development within the next two years, after their own blood relative, the Vice President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama had bloated their heads with juicy promises.
According to the Vice President, the Gonjaland, which represents about 53% of the total land mass of the Northern Region would not be left out in the government’s better Ghana Agenda and the implementation of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
Describing the Gonja Kingdom as one of the most peaceful and time tested, Mr. Mahama also a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Bole-Bamboi Constituency therefore enjoined the people to maintain the prevailing peace, unity and tranquility in the area in order to allow for the smooth implementation of the government’s planned development interventions.
Mr. John Dramani Mahama was addressing thousands of enthusiastic Gonjas from all over Ghana to mark the climax of the 2011 Damba Festival which coincided with the 1st Anniversary of the King of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Sulemana Jakpa Boresa I at Damango.
He said that, the NDC government had had plans to establish two Teacher Training Colleges in Gonjaland, new Nursing and Midwifery Training College at Bole in the Bole District and also rehabilitate all science resource centres in the area and across Ghana beginning from this year.
Mr. Mahama said the government had also acquired lands for the constructions of three new ultra-modern hospitals in Salaga, Buipe and Damango to improve on the quality healthcare delivery in the Gonja areas.
The Vice President unveiled that government had also considered the construction of all major roads in the Gonja areas and Northern Ghana in general as one of her topmost priorities and had therefore designed a project called the “Development Corridors” which would see the construction of first class roads in the Eastern and Western corridors of the region.
The Development Corridors Project would come along with schools, water facilities, electricity, health facilities, market centres and rest stops in the communities along those roads.
Mr. Mahama further unveiled that the government had secured over 100 million dollars from the African Development Bank for the construction of the Sawla-Damango road, which would also commence this year with two contractors.
He noted that government had also earmarked on the Tamale-Salaga-Makango, Wa-Bamboi, Bimbilla-Kpandai roads through to Bawku.
The Vice President who was with full of confidence maintained that the NDC government was determined to improve on the quality of life of the people through innovative and well tailored policies like the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
He indicated that the SADA which headquarters is to be situated in Tamale was about to take off with immediate effect. According to him, more roads, schools, health centres, water and electricity would be provided for the people under the SADA.
But that notwithstanding, Mr. Mahama disclosed that the water crisis that was confronting almost all the Gonja areas especially the district capitals; Damango, Salaga, Bole and Buipe had also been itemized for immediate solution.
He said the government had secured funds to work on the Damango water systems and also repair and expand those in the other Gonja Districts. Apart from that, several mechanised boreholes would be constructed by government in the other communities in the Gonja areas aside the 20,000 nationwide boreholes government had planned to undertake this year.
However, the Vice President challenged the Chiefs and people of Gonja to remain united to enable the vision of the NDC government for the people to be materialized.
Mr. Mahama condemned the hasty manner in which some chiefs in the Gonja area were rushing to the Courts for solution to chieftaincy disputes, which he indicated could easily be handled by the traditional councils.
In an address read on his behalf by the Akyenpem-hene, Oheneba Aduse Poku, the King of Ashanti, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II commended the Yagbonwura for maintaining peace and security in the Gonja area within his first one year rule.
He said the Gonjas had extensive land and remain one of the most peaceful and united people, and thus saluted the past and present Yagbonwuras for sustaining the peace in the area.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II encouraged the Yagbonwura to remain resolute and bring all his subjects together for the common development of the Gonjaland. He also admonished the people especially the youth who represent the future of Gonja to avoid resentment and divisions and channel their energies towards the development of the area.
One personality whose name became the toast of the moment through the festival period was the Lepowura Alhaji MND Jawula, former Ghana Football Association President, who was also the originator and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the historic Damba Festival with great support from the Vice President John Mahama.
On his part, the Overlord of Gonja Traditional Area, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boresa I, said he was overwhelmingly happy to wine, dance, interact and exchange pleasantries with all proud sons and daughters of Gonjaland.
The Yagbonwura attributed his success within the first year to all the people and most especially the chiefs and security agencies.
According to him, the absence of roads and bridges to link the “Overseas” areas lying between Salaga, Kusawgu, Tuluwe and Dabre areas as well as between Daboya, Nakango and the Mamprusi and Dagomba areas was affecting the development of the areas.
The Yagbonwura passionately appealed to the government to consider the creation of a new region out of the existing Northern Region to facilitate socio-economic development.
Meanwhile, the 2011 Gonja Damba Festival which attracted a lot of tourists from other countries was described as the most historic event ever in the history of Gonjas. Several activities were lined up to serve as side attraction including football gala among Senior High Schools in Northern Region, fashion show to exhibit the rich Gonja smocks, dancing competition and food bazzar among others.
Apart from the Vice President and the Asantehene’s representative, other dignitaries graced the festival. Some of them included Dr. Abu Sakara of Convention People’s Party, Madam Afisa Otiko Djaba, National Women Organiser of New Patriotic Party, Samiah Nkrumah, Daughter of Ghana ’s 1st President Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Boniface, former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Moses Bukari Mabengba, Northern Regional Minister among others.