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President Tours Northern Regions And Sees Poverty First-Hand

On his just concluded visit to the northern regions, traditionally NDC strongholds, President Nana Akuffo Addo did not disappoint. He brought with him a huge gift bag.

And, along the way, he dipped into the bag and showered voters who had gone overwhelmingly for his opponent in last year's presidential elections, with gifts of development projects, free high school education and promise of a new region.

Mr. Addo's generosity, undoubtedly, was remarkable.  But, let's be clear-eyed here: the President obviously wasn't doing anything new. He was simply replicating what is a common practice among politicians across the globe --- spreading government largesse in regions where their stars don't shine and their political fortunes are disappointingly /absymally low.

It wasn't so long that former President John Mahama tried to entice voters in the Ashanti region with projects and failed spectacularly. He was heavily rebuffed in the general elections.

Perhaps out of contrition, and sufferin from guilty conscience, politicians tend to describe this gesture as equitable distribution of the national cake/resources.

I am not in any sense accusing the President of naked political ambitions. But one could justifiably claim on some grounds that Mr. Addo, clearly, was looking ahead to the 2020 elections and therefore was buying loyalty and potential votes towards that end with his generous handouts.

Everywhere he went in the regions, the President, reportedly, was warmly received by enthusiastic crowds eager to show their appreciation for all that they say he had done for them in such a relatively short time.

Hmmmm.... I will take that description with a grain of salt, and leave the rest to your imagination.

That said, the visit itself, despite its heavy political overtones, was duly appropriate and long over due for two fundamental reasons. For one thing, it afforded Mr. Addo the singular opportunity as head of our government to see first hand the hydra-headed challenges and problems thwarting development in the north.

For another, the northern regions deserve more attention from the central government for reasons that have been well publicized, but nonetheless worth repeating here: Despite consistent floods of investments, the regions continue to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of poverty, healthcare, infrastructure development and educational progress.

In a nutshell, the disparities between the northern half of the country and its southern half are so stark and deep, to say the least. As a matter of fact, while economic and financial insecurity is widespread in the northern regions, the nation's wealth is disproportionately concentrated in the south.

I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the NPP government is fully and truly committed to the progress and development of the northern regions. The president has made the economic transformation of the regions his personal crusade.

In fact, during last year's heated presidential campaign, Mr. Addo vowed to bridge the development gap between the north and the south. Northerners have been waiting for far too long for politicians to translate their perennial promises to turn our miserable economic fortunes into gleaming prosperity.

But, now that he has returned to the nation's capital, events, both national and international, are surely going to engage Mr. Addo's attention. There is the distinct possibility therefore that his good intentions towards the north may temporarily take a back seat.

Somebody, preferably the Vice President and other influential northern voices in the NPP, should strive to keep Mr. Addo's feet to the fire, constantly reminding him that the north still suffers from the dual calamities of poverty and severe underdevelopment.

And, that this unfortunate situation has to be rectified once and for all, and that he Mr. Addo has the power and the means to profoundly make an impact on the lives of northerners.

 

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