Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is assuring residents of Zongo communities across the country that his proposed Zongo Development Fund, aimed at enhancing infrastructural development in Zongo communities and improving the lives of their residents, will be an item in the 2017 budget if he wins the December 7 elections.
According to him, the Zongo Development Fund, which he first announced in the 2012 campaign, forms part of a holistic policy approach aimed at tackling the deprived nature of the Zongos.
The disbursement of the fund, Nana Akufo-Addo added, will be done in consultation with the chiefs and leaders of Zongo communities across the country “to ensure it goes directly to the heart of addressing the developmental needs of Zongos.”
The NPP flagbearer was not surprised, therefore, that ruling NDC government had, once again, embarked on an aggressive campaign to discredit this policy, just as the party did when the NPP proposed the setting up of the Northern Development Authority and the Free SHS policy, in 2008 and in 2012 respectively.
In this regard, Nana Akufo-Addo urged the gathering present not to pay heed to the NDC, stressing that they had shown over their 8 years in office to have no plans or policies for the development of the country.
Nana Akufo-Addo made this known on Sunday, August 14, 2016, when he addressed the Council of Zongo Chiefs and Imams, as part of his tour of the constituency.
The NPP flagbearer recounted how, under the Presidency of John Agyekum Kufuor, monthly allowances for Arabic tutors were paid.
However, these allowances, he noted, have been cancelled by President Mahama, under the guise of ‘there is no money’.
Nana Akufo-Addo assured the Sarkin Zongo, Alhaji Ali Arizikiya, and the Municipal Chief Imam, Alhaji Mohammed Umar Cisse, that “when I am given the opportunity to serve the nation, I will reintroduce the allowances paid to Arabic tutors.”
Additionally, he stated that the NPP’s policy is to “integrate Arabic schools into the Ghana Education Service, so that whatever assistance is given to non-Arabic schools will be given to Arabic schools. This will ensure the rapid upgrading and development of Arabic Schools.”
Nana Akufo-Addo also pledged the assistance of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) towards the improvement of facilities in Arabic schools.
Responding to claims made by Mallam Somed, spokesperson for the Council of Zongo Chiefs and Imams, to the effect that there is discrimination by government in the selection of pilgrims to Hajj, the NPP flagbearer explained that this was bound to occur as the Hajj Board is heavily politicized.
Nana Akufo-Addo assured that his government will reconstitute the Board, and ensure that only persons, who are neither NPP nor NDC, with the requisite expertise and knowledge in matters of the pilgrimage to Mecca, are selected.
“This will ensure that Moslems from all parts of the country are afforded the opportunity to fulfill this pillar of Islam. This is the best arrangement that we can have – an independent, non-partisan Hajj Board that will ensure that all Muslims in every part of the country have an opportunity to go to Mecca,” he added.
Turning his attention to the rising levels of unemployment in the country, with the Zongo communities not spared, the NPP flagbearer noted that it is when Ghana industrialises, with the goal of adding significant value to her primary products, that the country can create the necessary numbers of high-paying jobs that will enhance the living standards of the mass of Ghanaians.
He stressed that raw material producing economies do not create prosperity for the masses, adding that the only way to the goal of ensuring access to prosperity is value addition activities in a transformed and a diversified modern economy.
“Thus, in places like Tarkwa, the setting up of a gold refinery amongst others is what we want to help establish when we come into office. The ripple effects of all these will be felt by all in Tarkwa”, he said.
Nana Akufo-Addo continued, “I will not come here and boast to you that I have constructed roads, whilst you are hungry. I want prosperity for all Ghanaians, and this can be achieved through the creation of jobs for all.”