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The National Peace Council (NPC) has highlighted the evils violent conflicts have continued to unleash on Ghana’s north, prominent among them investors’ scare.
In the council’s remarks, the scars left behind by the series of bloody skirmishes seen for some time now in northern Ghana are making it difficult for well-meaning individuals and organisations to secure projects and resources for the development of the area.
“Today, if something good would be brought to the region, and we are saying that Upper East, Upper West and the Northern region are the most deprived, and we want to bring that initiative to those regions and those regions are fighting, how can you make an argument to bring the initiative here? You can’t. A clear example is some people came from Holland. They want to establish a school in northern Ghana. But those who did the connection for them are settled in Tamale. So, when they came, they went to Tamale and the report they brought back was not good.
“I met them somewhere through a friend and I was [suggesting] to them- can we make it in the Upper East region? And [listening to] some of the reasons they gave me for not bringing it to the Upper East region, I was shocked. Finally, they will end up somewhere. It may not be Upper West region. It may not be Upper East region. It may not be Northern region. Haven’t we denied ourselves an opportunity? I expect all of us in this region and those of us outside to contribute to peace and development,” the council’s Executive Secretary, Francis Azuimah, said.
The Executive Secretary registered this concern Wednesday at a two-day workshop on conflict resolution mechanisms organised by the NPC for paramount chiefs and queen mothers in the Upper East region.
A member of the National Peace Council Board, Shaibu Abubakar, stressed: “It is important we need to embrace peace so that can help us move away from poverty because if there is no peace there is no way anybody from outside will come and invest in any part of this beautiful region of ours.”
Sponsored by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the workshop, which is expected to end Thursday (today), is themed: “Strengthening the Capacity of Traditional Leaders in Conflict Prevention and Management.”
Workshop timely for growing conflicts in our areas – Chiefs
Currently, seven cases of dispute, linked to chieftaincy, are before the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs.
A protracted chieftaincy-related conflict at Atulbabisi, a suburb of Bolgatanga, the regional capital, resulted in another clash on the night of Sunday July 30, this year, with one person killed and two people wounded with machetes.
Government has, in the wake of that clash, imposed on the troubled area what it calls “restriction of movement”- but which the general public refers to as “curfew”- from 10:00pm to 6:00am every day. The measure is taking a toll on businesses as several ventures- including supermarkets, pubs and all-night tabletop teashops- are compelled to shut down much earlier than the usual hours.
“We acknowledge the fact that peace is a prerequisite for [the] development of any nation or community and so the need for resolution and prevention of conflicts in our traditional areas is key and this can be achieved only if one knows the mechanisms to go about in resolution of conflicts. It is for these reasons that we find this workshop laudable and appropriate,” said the President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, Naba Olando A. Awini III, in a speech read on his behalf at the workshop by the Paramount Chief of Kayoro, Pɛ Oscar Batabi Tiyiamu II.
He added: “I would like to thank the [National] Peace Council for organising today’s workshop for participants to be taken through the complexity and dynamism of conflict resolution mechanisms with focus on negotiation, dialogue and mediation skills. It is my strong belief that the acquisition of these skills will help chiefs and queen mothers, thus the target participants for this workshop to be well-equipped to handle and resolve the growing conflicts in their various traditional areas.”
Some chiefs foment conflicts- Government
The Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Ayine Bukari, who was represented at the workshop by the Upper East Regional Coordinating Director, Alhaji Abdulai Abubakar, noted that some of the conflicts communities were dealing with were brewed by some chiefs.
“It is rather sad to note that our revered institution of chieftaincy can sometimes become one of the major causes of protracted conflicts. Some chiefs tend to throw all caution to the dogs and engage in nefarious activities which have the tendency to bring the name of the institution into disrepute. This definitely reduces the confidence people repose in you to adjudicate matters fairly,” the minister said.
Whilst entreating the traditional authorities to “build credibility in the eyes of” their subjects and the general public through personal attributes of honesty, competence and selflessness, Mr. Bukari also pledged: “We will resource the National Peace Council and give it the freehand to do its work at complementing [the] efforts of government.”