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British Government Urged to Compensate People of Northern Ghana

2007-02-02 11:30:21
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A northern Ghana advocacy group has appealed to the British government to console the people of three northern regions of Ghana by way of a special compensation as part of the country's 50th anniversary, "for deliberately denying the area of development in the colonial government's policies."

A statement issued by the group: Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), in Accra yesterday, signed by Mr Ayorogo Adongo Bismarck, President and copied to the British High Commissioner, said substantial evidence of the colonial government's unwillingness to develop the north was clearly seen in the many remarks made by some of its officials.

The statement said W J A Jones, then Commissioner of the Northern Territories once remarked that: "Northerners were regarded as an amiable but backward people, useful as soldiers, policemen and labourers in the mines and cocoa farms. In short fit only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for their brothers in the colony and Ashanti".

F M Hodgson, Governor, further stated: "For the present, I therefore cannot but strongly urge the employment of all available resources of the government upon the development of the country to the south of Kintampo, leaving the Northern Territories to be dealt with in future years.... I would not at present spend upon the Northern Territories a single penny more than is absolutely necessary for their suitable administration and the encouragement of the transit trade".

The statement said Sir Hugh Clifford, another high ranking British colonial officer emphatically stated: "Till the colony and Ashanti have been thoroughly opened up and developed, the Northern Territories must be content and await their turn".

According to the statement, the most serious effect of this neglect on the people of the northern regions was that while western education started in southern Ghana in the 16th Century, that of the north came as late as 1901, a very sad gap of 300 years.

"It must therefore be said that former President Nyerere's statement that "education will not only give you a chance to escape poverty; education will fight poverty", is something to go by, then everyone from the north would have reason to believe that our colonial masters, without prejudice are the principal architects and designers of the poverty situation in the north".

As a remedy, the British government having realised the harm caused to the people of the north promised to develop the area with an amount of 30 million pounds. Regrettably, the first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah rejected the offer and instead demanded immediate independence. He introduced a three-phase Northern Scholarship Scheme to be catered for in the country's annual budget.

The statement said with the exception of the award of scholarships to students from the north attending secondary schools to cover boarding and examination fees, as the first phase, the two other phases had been swept under the carpet till date.

"What is more worrying is that even the phase one is under serious threat as others not benefiting from the scheme eye it with envy and great discomfort. If care is not taken it will also be done away with any moment from now".

Nkrumah's three-phase vision as a substitute for the 30 million pounds to correct the imbalances has to a large extent failed, the statement said adding that the money was now badly needed to bridge the yawning socio-economic gap between the north an the south for healthier and balanced growth and development of Ghana.


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