Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface (2nd left) interacting with members of the Zongo Community
The Minister for Inner City and Zongo Development, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, has hinted that his ministry will focus on infrastructural enhancement, sanitation, economic empowerment, social development, cultural promotion, security and crime control this year, as part of its action plan.
In his view, these interventions would transform the Zongo communities and take away the negative perceptions people have about them (Zongos) and open them up for more business investments and development.
The minister, like many others, bemoaned the long neglect of the Zongo communities, adding that no particular government should be blamed for this neglect hence, the need for all to contribute towards the development of thos communities.
“In the past, Zongos were just temporary resting places for strangers who were travelling through a town. Today, Zongos are found in the hearts of towns and no longer temporary places for strangers. They have become permanent dwelling places for people of various socio-economic and religious backgrounds. … it is heart-warming to note that the Zongos are not just charity destinations; they also have a number of business opportunities for the private sector in the areas of waste and sanitation, micro-finance, entrepreneurial development, real estate, among others,” Alhaji Saddique Boniface underscored.
The minister was speaking during a sensitization forum on the Zongo Development Fund and stakeholders’ consultation in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, to solicit inputs into the Fund’s bill, to be laid before parliament for debate and subsequently passed into law.
According to him, engaging the leading figures in the Zongos is very important to the sustainability of the Fund and all the projects and programmes associated with it.
“When the NPP was in opposition, we promised to establish a Zongo Development Fund, but in power, the NPP has gone beyond just establishing a Fund, to establish a ministry to see to the development of the Zongos. … the vision of the president is for the people living in the Zongo communities to feel part of the development of the country,” he posited.
Alhaji Saddique Boniface observed, “Development in this country over the years has been discriminatory against the Zongos. This ministry has come to help improve the Zongos up to the state of other suburbs of the towns they find themselves. Developing the Zongos is not rhetoric; it is a reality.”
The Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Bukari, called on the leadership of Zongos in the region to talk to their people to live exemplary lives so as to take away the negative perception the public has about Zongos.
“It is good that the NPP government has decided to develop the Zongos across the country, but it is up to the people living there to also justify the decision to set Zongos aside for a special attention and investment,” he charged.
A similar event was held in the Upper West Region, as well as Bawku, in the Upper East Region.
From: Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga