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Mahama’s tour of the north gives him opportunity to see problems afflicting the region


Some have described President John Mahama’s accounting to the people tour of the country as a publicity stunt and a public relations gimmick by a desperate president eager to retain political power.

Instead of staying put in Accra and working to find solutions to the ailing economy, they say Mr Mahama is more interested in crisscrossing the country showcasing his achievements and promising Ghanaians that things will get better if they re-elect him in November.

Nonsense I say. Politicians employ a variety of election strategies to win votes and what the president is doing is perfectly in tune with political campaign modalities.

Such harsh sentiments are to be expected from the usual suspects, Mahama’s political foes; however, in their zeal to marginalize Mr Mahama’s efforts, his detractors gloss over the fact that Ghanaians have been overwhelmingly receptive to his tour.

He has been warmly welcomed in all the regions he has visited even in regions where his support is minimal.

The northern region has been no exception. After all, this is where he hails from. Not surprisingly, he was accorded a rousing welcome on Wednesday by thousands of his supporters.

Mr Mahama’s tour of the north, sure, will give him the opportunity to see first hand the rapid transformation and changes the region is going through. Progress has been remarkable to say the least.

However, that is not to maintain that all is well in the region, not by any stretch of the imagination. Nobody needs to apprise the president about the numerous problems facing the northern region. He is very much aware of those.

But it is worth repeating even at the pain of sounding repetitive and coming across as a whiner that the region is plagued with huge problems despite the facade of progress. In fact, immense hurdles still remain.

The region is mired in unrelenting poverty, and suffers disproportionately from high unemployment, scant investment, poor access to healthcare, mediocre educational standards and slow infrastructural development.

90 percent of the youth who joined the crowds to welcome the president is jobless, a situation made all the more desperate by an acute lack of economic opportunities.

Foreign investors are shooed away from the north and steered to other areas of the country for reasons that are steeped in abject ignorance.

Industries that could ease the unemployment problem in the north are situated in the south and that is a fact no one can dispute.

Commercial farming once a viable and successful economic venture is now a distant memory and the sheanut industry touted as a life savior for northern women has hardly taken off the ground due in large measure to official neglect.

The only investment worth mentioning has been in the banking sector, but how many young men and women can the new banks springing everywhere in the north employ? And to make matters worse, banks are resorting to automation these days to transact business.

Nobody expects the president to wave the magic wand and puff the problems of the north will disappear in a cloud of smoke.

But let us be clear-eyed here; the northern region still remains at the bottom of the totem pole; the economic and financial disparities between the region and the south are stark and will remain so if authorities continue to pay lip service to problems that need fundamental solutions.

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