President John Dramani Mahama on Saturday called on the people of Bawku to use traditional festivals to promote unity and peace in the area.
He said unity and peaceful co-existence among the various ethnic groups was the only way to bring development to the area.
President Mahama was speaking at the annual “Samanpiid” festival of the chiefs and people of the Bawku Traditional Area at Bawku.
He said Bawku was a vibrant commercial town and that with singleness of purpose the people would be able to attract investors to accelerate the area’s pace of development.
He said violent conflict was negative by every measure with dire consequences, and reiterated the need for the people to put the past behind them and to pursue peace and reconciliation.
President Mahama urged the Mamprusi ethnic group in Bawku to return to the Inter-Ethnic Peace Committee to continue with dialogue in order to consolidate the peace in the area.
The Paramount Chief of the Bawku Traditional Area, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, noted that even though the area had gained notoriety for communal violence in the recent past, things had taken a quick turn for the better as peace had fully returned to the area.
“I wish to hereby assure our President and the other guests that Bawku is now very calm and safe for everybody”.
He conceded that the people of Bawku had come to the conclusion that no single individual or ethnic group could bring about peace in the area and that “no one individual group can achieve their parochial wishes by resorting to armed attacks”.
“Personally, I believe that all Bawku people should freely interact with one another and forget about the unpleasant past. I also believe in the burying of the ‘okro stick’ to signify an official end of the conflict”.
Naba Azoka II also called for the revival of the Bawku Inter-Ethnic Peace Committee, saying that it was necessary for the consolidation of the peace process.
He announced plans for the introduction of a degree programme in the Kusaal dialect in conjunction with the University College of Education at Winneba.
On the significance of Samanpiid festival, the Paramount Chief said it was essentially a post-harvest celebration. However, farming in the area was becoming unattractive because of the high cost of farm inputs and modern implements.
He added that most farmers in the area had now taken to the cultivation of maize which required fertilizers to produce a good yield. He, therefore, called on the government to consider the issue of fertilizer subsidy and make other agricultural inputs affordable to enable farmers to produce more food.
Mr James Zuugah Tiigah, Upper East Regional Minister, expressed appreciation to the Chiefs and people of Bawku for keeping the peace, and said government would ensure that Bawku becomes one of the most peaceful places in the country.
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