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Boniface Saddique, Minister for Inner Cities and Zongo Development
Boniface Saddique, Minister for Inner Cities and Zongo Development

Zongos set for major facelift

The much anticipated growth in the Country’s Zongo communities is set to materialize, especially in the areas infrastructure, education and economic regeneration, following the passage of the Zongo Development Fund Bill.

The passage of the bill has meant that a way has been paved for uplifting the conditions of the Zongo communities across the country and converting these neighborhoods into centres of opportunities.

The fund is expected to be deployed in five main areas, namely infrastructure and sanitation, economic empowerment, social development, cultural promotion and security and crime control.

The fund is designed to help regenerate and review the zongo communities. The Government promised to provide 50 million dollars in the Fund when established. As of now, an initial seed amount of GH¢219.5 million has been budgeted for it.

Muslim students are expected to benefit from scholarship packages under the Zongo Development Fund as education has been earmarked as a priority area of the account.

The Minister for Inner Cities and Zongo Development, Mr Boniface Abubakar Saddique, had explained that roads, drains, clinics, water, electricity and street lighting would be provided in relevant communities under infrastructure and sanitation; while women and the youth would be trained in entrepreneurship and employment skills for economic empowerment.

The beneficiaries, he said, would also be assisted to draw business plans and be supported to access credit from financial institutions.

Over the years these communities have been left behind in development planning. The residents and their needs have been poorly identified leading to inadequate and sometimes inappropriate interventions in the social services and physical infrastructure.

In an Interview with Public Agenda, the Imam of Sakyikrom Asuogya, a suburb of Nsawam in the Eastern region, Alhaji Abdul Rahman Suleiman, said he was delighted when he heard in the news that the bill had been passed. According to the Imam, he was particularly excited that finally residents of the various Zongo Communities in the country   have been remembered in a major policy initiative of government.

He said  “we  will welcome any government programme that has  the  potential to alleviate poverty in the zongo communities because  our  people  have been  taken for granted for quite a  while… it is  time for us to also enjoy our share of the  national cake.

The Imam however cautioned that government must be vigilant in order to ensure that the fund is managed prudently.

In a separate interview, Mr Ibrahim seidu, a resident of Nima in Accra, said he was surprised at the speed at which Parliament passed the bill. Mr Ibrahim confessed that when the New Patriotic Party mentioned the Zongo Development Fund during their campaign in 2016,  he  thought  it was one of  the  tricks  by politicians  to amass vote, little did  he know  that the promise would come to fruition.

With the fund now available, he said he foresees a major facelifts in the zongo communities across the country. He demanded of government to ensure that it deals ruthlessly with anybody or group of persons who attempt to mismanage or embezzle the funds.

Meanwhile the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, said   on Thursday that the New Patriotic Party’s Zongo Development Fund initiative was inspired by the late former Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.

According to him, the late vice president had Ghanaians living in the Zongos at heart, and thus suggested a social intervention programme to address their developmental needs.

Speaking at an event to mark the 5th anniversary of Aliu Mahama’s passing,  as  reported by citifmonline.com ,Dr. Bawumia said the former vice President made the proposal as a way of defusing the propaganda being peddled at the time, that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was against people from the Northern and Zongo communities.

“We see him [Aliu Mahama] as a pioneer as far as our politics is concerned. As Vice President to President Kufuor, he brought something unique to the table. He straddled the zongo and northern communities. The story of the Zongo Development fund was started with Alhaji Aliu Mahama.”

“We were talking and he said, we have to do things to let the Zongos appreciate that the NPP is not anti-Zongo as the propaganda was at the time. We said what can we do, and we started talking about specific interventions because successive governments had not paid attention to the zongos. So that is why when we brought that suggestion to Nana Akufo-Addo he immediately said that it is a good idea, let us put it in the manifesto, and today by the grace of God, we are establishing the Zongo Development Fund,” he added.

 

By Mohammed Suleman

 

 

 

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