The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has appealed to the youth in Zongos to reject being used as pawns to perpetrate political violence.
He said Zongo communities should no longer be a place where violent-minded people would come and hire people to perpetrate their agenda.
Dr Bawumia, who was addressing a mini congregation at the forecourt of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Accra Friday [July 31, 2020] for Eid ul-Adha prayers said such acts must be a thing of the past.
“This year is an important year for our country as we will be going to the polls in December. If Ghana is revered across the globe as a shining example of democracy in Africa, it is because of how we have generally conducted ourselves peacefully in previous elections”.
“We have to maintain this enviable reputation and it is important for all stakeholders to ensure that we maintain the peace we enjoy in this country. We in government have a responsibility to ensure that, and we pledge our commitment to that,” Vice-President Bawumia assured.
Eid al-Adha is the most important feast in the Muslim calendar. It is a special day for the remembrance of the exemplary display of tolerance, obedience, selflessness and sacrifice exhibited by Prophet Ibrahim, who obeyed Allah’s command without hesitation to sacrifice his only beloved son, Ismail.
As a normal practice, the day would have been marked with a large congregation of Muslims gathering at the Black Star Square in Accra, as well as other parts of the country.
However, Muslims for the second time in the year had to converge on the GBC to observe the national Eid prayers in accordance with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols as announced by the government.
The Chief Iman has issued a directive calling on Muslims to celebrate the festival at home.
The Vice-President attended the prayers in the company of his wife, Mrs Samira Bawumia.
The event also attracted some leaders of the Muslim community, members of the diplomatic corps, government officials and other political figures.
Stringent safety measures were put in place, including the washing of hands, compulsory wearing of nose masks and social distancing.
Touting the peaceful nature of the National Chief Imam, Dr Bawumia said: “We are fortunate we have in our father, the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, an icon of peace we can always draw inspirations from to eschew violence.”
He, therefore, called on every Zongo youth to emulate the peaceful nature of the National Chief Imam whenever they were confronted with acts of violence.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, the Vice-President said: “Politics should not be a barrier between you and your fellow brother from the same community.”
He said election was not an exercise which must divide the people through violence but a simple exercise of choosing worthy leaders who would ensure “our inclusion in national policies, welfare and our nation’s development.”
Elements of exclusion
Cataloguing the elements of exclusion as identity, addresses, tax identification number (TIN), bank accounts, access to telephone networks, health care among others, Dr Bawumia said the lack of those culminated in the poor, deprived, rural, inner city and Zongo dwellers generally facing a number of common problems which led to their exclusion from many aspects of governance.
To that end, he said the government in its quest to build an inclusive society, identified those factors which needed urgent attention, pointing out that the problems meant that the excluded, by and large, were forced to operate in the informal sector of the economy.
“President Nana Akufo-Addo thus promised to build an inclusive society where no one is left behind regardless of tribe, geographical location, gender, religion or income status. The poor and deprived in Ghana have for far too long been fodder for flowery and sugar-coated speeches by politicians, especially at election time,” he said.
The Vice-President said for Nana Akufo-Addo, what mattered was not “what you say you are going to do for the poor and deprived but what you actually do when you are given the opportunity to serve.”
On the socio-economic development, he said the government had “eased the burden of hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians and invested in the future of our children with the implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy and free technical, vocational education and training (TVET).”
He described the policy as the most important social intervention since independence and that it was available to all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, location, religion, political party, adding that 1.2 million children were currently enjoying free SHS.
Dr Bawumia also touched on policies such as the introduction of the national ID card, the digital address system, the creation of the development authorities, the resuscitation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the introduction of the One Ambulance, One Constituency, One-district, One Factory (1D1F) and the drones for critical medical supplies.
He said the government was more committed to uplifting education in Zongo communities and therefore in his next government, 16 model secondary schools in Zongo communities in each region would be built.
That, he explained, would be special SHSs, which would focus on educating children within Zongo communities.
On COVID-19, the Vice-President reminded all that the pandemic was still around and urged all Muslims celebrating the Eid to take extra precaution.
“As the easing of restrictions on limited number of people for religious gathering takes effect tomorrow, August 1, I wish to further encourage both my Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters, to continue to adhere strictly to the coronavirus safety measures announced by the government, especially washing of hands, wearing of face masks, and observing social distancing during services in mosques and churches respectively,” he advised.
The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, charged Ghanaians to avoid tendencies that could endanger the peaceful atmosphere as the country prepared for the upcoming general election.
He said although people shared diverse political opinions during elections, such diversity should not be breeding grounds for violence and other acts which had the potential of subverting the hard-earned peace of the country.
“Let us not make our diverse opinions make us argue fiercely among ourselves so that in desperation of our differences, we break our relationships and fall into dispute. When we despise one another, we lose our strength and become weak,” Sheikh Sharubutu said.
“Let us put all our affairs in the presence of God in conformity with what the authorities have put in place. Whatever Allah has determined is what will happen during the election and whatever he does not will can never take place. Servants belong to Allah and same way kingdom authority also belongs to him,” he added.