Sunday, August 29, 2010


FIFTY-NINE out of the 138 district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies that failed to submit their reports covering the period 2001 to 2004 are likely to face sanctions.
The assemblies might lose future allocations of public funds to them and also face the law.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee(PAC), Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, made this known in Tamale during the opening of a two-day public sitting of the PAC to hear reports of 21 district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies in the three northern regions, covering the period 2001 to 2005.
He further announced that the Auditor General’s report covering 2001 to 2004 identified such anomalies as disregard for laid down procedures, misuse of revenue, contract irregularities, failure to recover loans, procurement problems, overpayment and embezzlement issues.
He said the report detected that those anomalies led to the loss in revenue of 58 billion old Ghana cedis or (5.8 million new Ghana cedis).
Mr Dapaah observed that the hosting of the public sitting in Tamale “is historic because it is the first time the PAC is conducting its public sitting in the metropolis”.
He explained that the idea was to have the PAC’s public sittings close to the rural communities where the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies were located.
“Governments everywhere are enjoined to render account to the public regarding spending of public funds which are the tax- payer’s money” he pointed out.
He further stated that the failure of the government to render proper account could make the country’s citizens lose confidence in her resulting in confusion.
The chairman stated that although the current DCEs appearing before the PAC were not there at the time most of the transactions took place, they were required to be in a position to explain to the committee how the funds were spent.
The Head of Public Affairs in Parliament, Mr Jones Kugblenu, explained that “59 assemblies failed to answer their respective queries and as a result risk forfeiting any form of funding from government in the future”.
He observed that most of the assemblies rather spent so much on administrative purposes while others had their Internally Generated Funds (IGF) “sitting in the banks without utilising them for development purposes”.
The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Moses Mabengba, has meanwhile urged the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to expand its public sittings to include all the 20 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the region.
He noted that the current situation where only 21 district assemblies in the three northern regions appeared before it was not the best.


THE Catholic Archbishop of Tamale, Most Reverend Philip Naameh, has entreated the leadership of political parties to make realistic and attainable promises to their respective foot soldiers.
In so doing, he charged the leadership to raise the socio-economic and political awareness levels in order to avoid internal party conflicts.
“We must focus on the promotion of political maturity on the part of foot soldiers,” he told the gathering at the Second Ghana Version of the World Youth Day Celebration in Tamale. It was on the theme “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life; blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God”. It was organised by the Ghana National Catholic Youth Council (GHANCYC). The programme attracted Catholic youth groups, as well as bishops all over the country.
The archbishop observed that there was the need to promote “positive criticisms and healthy competition among political parties”.
According to him, party members must be told that in governance, “it is not possible to have everything at the same time”.
He therefore, urged the youth in the Catholic Church to enter politics and act as agents of peace and harmony within the political environment.
The Most Revd Naameh stated that the Catholic Youth had a lot to offer the nation when they entered politics.
He entreated Catholics to share their wealth with the poor to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
The archbishop stressed the need to avoid ethnocentrism in politics, saying “let us choose leaders based on merits and competence”.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Ms Akua Sena Dansua, in a speech read on her behalf, said the youth should avoid any form of violence be it political, religious, chieftaincy or land litigation.
“The youth must demonstrate commitment and see themselves as agents of change that will champion the cause of peace, progress and prosperity wherever they found themselves” she stressed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


A TRAINING centre to help identify and develop sports talents in northern Ghana is to be established in Tamale.
Football Players International (FPI), an international organisation based in Holland, is facilitating the project.
A spokesperson of a delegation from Holland, Mr Jawhari Baba-Duah, made this known when the team called on the Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mr San Nasamu Asabigi, in Tamale.
According to him, the centre would also offer football players the opportunity of continuing their careers in Europe.
He stated that the delegation visited the metropolis to identify sports talents and assist local coaches to undergo training to raise the standard of local teams and players in northern Ghana.
“Furthermore, the FPI through the centre intends to promote peace building and provide alternative career opportunities for the people of the northern region,” Mr Baba-Duah stated.
Mr Asabigi expressed gratitude to the youth of Tamale for their tireless efforts to bring development partners home to support development efforts in northern Ghana.
He assured the delegation of the Regional Co-ordinating Council’s support in developing sports talents in the area.
Mr Asabigi told the delegation that Tamale was a fast growing city so they should endeavour to expedite work on the project to avoid encroachment by other estate developers.


THE shea industry is potentially a viable sector that could help eradicate poverty and improve on the quality of life of the people of northern Ghana.
However, over the years, little has been done by stakeholders in terms of policy, research and financial support to boost the sector.
It is estimated that Ghana produces 130,000 tonnes of shea nuts annually out of which 70,000 tonnes are used locally and 60,000 metric tonnes exported.
Additionally, about 45,000 tonnes are reported to be exported as raw nuts and 150,000 tonnes as butter.
The challenges that have bedevilled the sector over the years include low and fluctuating pricing, decades of neglect by policy makers, particularly successive governments, widespread suspicion and mistrust among actors in the system and inadequate information on the shea industry.
The present state of the industry shows clearly a policy and an institutional shortfall in the management of the sector.
There seems to be a consensus among stakeholders in the industry that shea requires a focussed institutional attention to grow on a sustainable basis.
Some stakeholders have on several platforms suggested the formation of a shea board to bring about the needed sustainability.
The Ghana Trade and Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC), however, believes the formation of a shea board would require a review of existing regulation on shea, especially in ensuring increased research, guaranteed pricing and marketing.
A research conducted by the GTLC showed that there were serious challenges in research for improved varieties, inconsistent policy for the sector, difficulties of picking and processing by largely women’s groups and inadequate shea value chain.
It is worthy to note that attention to the development of the plant and all other activities to do with picking and adding value has not been enough and well directed to unveil the potentials of the crop.
A comprehensive policy that provides consistency for the development of the shea industry has been woefully inadequate.
There are indications that in the near future, the shea may not be available in commercial quantities.
A study has revealed that seven out of 10 baskets of charcoal come from the shea tree and another report by Action Aid Ghana shows that large tract of land in the Yendi Municipality on which shea trees abound were being cleared for the development of Jatropha plantations.
It has been observed that the incentive to protect shea trees by communities and persons involved in picking is undermined by low prices for shea nuts, little market opportunities for the nuts and butter as well as issues of ownership of the tree.
Persons and communities therefore exploit the tree for the economic benefits that it immediately provides without planned replacement. Replacement of old low yielding trees is largely non-existent.
It is important to note that gestation period of the tree is known to be between 25 and 30 years. Research efforts since the early 1980’s to reduce the gestation period seemed not to be yielding results.
If the shea tree should be attractive to local investors for the development of plantations, then better resources may have to be directed into research to produce shea varieties that are high yielding.
Shea trees are indigenous to Africa and grow wild throughout the vast West African Savannah Zone, stretching from Cameroon to Senegal and encompassing Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Shea trees may also be found further east in Uganda and Sudan.
Resistant to plantation cultivation, the shea tree thrives in the Savannah’s ever receding forests and on farms, where the trees are left to grow whenever land is cleared or left to fallow. Shea nuts are crushed to produce a thick yellow cream known as shea butter. An estimated 9.4 million shea trees presently thrive in Ghana, however between 70 and 80 per cent of the trees are considered old with declining yields.
It is significant to note that the timeliness of picking nuts is as important as handling, drying and then parboiling. The nuts could lose some value when any of these stages is not well done.
The practice for most of the pickers is to pick and gather at a location far from home. Stocks are gradually transported by head load for treatment and drying. The inaccessibility of most of the locations by vehicles as a result of bad roads, especially during the rainy season, compounds this situation.
Many nuts may begin to germinate or completely lost by the time they are transported. Therefore with the existing stock of trees, methods of collection, treatment and drying, the picker plays a central and critical role.
During a recent shea stakeholders meeting in Tamale, the Co-ordinator of the GTLC, Mr Ibrahim Akalbila, stressed the need for co-ordination of efforts in research, plantation development, maintenance of existing trees, to provide sustainable access and supply of shea nuts for domestic use and for export.
He also stressed the need for the setting up of a body with the mandate to co-ordinate those efforts to harness the potential of the tree, adding that that body must be established by government.


A Think Tank charged with addressing the challenges of food insecurity in northern Ghana has been inaugurated in Tamale.
The group, known as the Food for Life Think Tank, is made up of experts from the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), the Animal Research Institute, the University for Development Studies (UDS), the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA), CARE International, the Water Research Institute, the Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
It was initiated by the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA) and Friendship Groups in Denmark (GV) under its Empowerment for Life (E4L) programme.
The Chairman of the GDCA, Professor Abubakari Al-Hassan, explained that the group would help co-ordinate, re-examine and reformulate previous strategies in the new context of climate change.
“Members will use their strong professional profile, network and links to stakeholder institutions to make the think tank a key player in the field and place food security and climate change adaptation high on the political agenda,” he pointed out.
According to him, as a counterpart to the group, a farmer forum group had been established in 10 different rural communities in the Yendi District to work towards developing a Food for Life strategy which would entail a review of existing data and the establishment of a resource centre.
Prof. Al-Hassan said the resource centre would comprise a library and a database of the existing data and actors, samples of relevant equipment, a demonstration of ideas and findings, relevant journals and materials from other stakeholders and would be open for public use as a learning centre.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Director-General of the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR), Dr Abdulai Salifu, said the effects of climate change included reduction in rainfall amounts, flooding, increase in temperature, with its attendant problems such as uncertainty in food production and food policy issues, worsening food insecurity, the widening of income gaps, stress on disaster management systems, among others.
He advised farmers to adopt such strategies as the cultivation of drought resistance crops and dry season gardening to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Moses Mabengba, noted that small-scale farmers in the region were far from securing an all-year round food supply, in spite of the many interventions being provided.
He announced plans by the government to establish a climate fund that would help mitigate the effects of climate change.
A member of the Council of State, Kpan-Naa Mohammed Baba Bawah, said in northern Ghana, environmental scarcity, occasioned by lowering amount of rainfall, had caused tremendous damage to human life through incessant conflicts in the quest for the domination of scarce existing land resources.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, urged the group to remain focused and collaborate effectively with all stakeholders to help address food insecurity problems in the north.

Friday, August 13, 2010


THE Northern Regional Director of Education, Mrs Elizabeth De-Souza, has stated that bridging the education gap between the north and south requires the churning out of a higher number of trained and committed teachers in Northern Ghana.
She observed that the high percentage of untrained teachers in the region and the north at large was partly to blame for the existing quality education gap between the north and south.
Mrs De-Souza stated this during an inaugural ceremony for 240 teacher trainees who were benefiting from the Untrained Teachers Diploma Basic Education (UTDBE) programme in Tamale.
It was sponsored by the Child Reach International Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in collaboration with the Alliance for Change in Education (ACE) programme of Ibis Ghana, an NGO.
The director lamented that her visits to some schools in the West Mamprusi and other districts in the region indicated that a significant number of teachers were not committed their work resulting in absenteeism and lateness to school.
What is happening in some schools is really sad and in spite of the provision of decent accommodation in some districts, most teachers have failed to be committed to their work as some of them leave the children to loiter about without any teachers guiding them, she noted.
Mrs De-Souza suggested to NGOs, district assemblies and other public spirited organisations who were sponsoring teacher trainees to institute formal agreement to compel the trainees to serve their respective communities as well as to be committed to their work.
“Until they are committed, their training would be meaningless and I must say that the whole of the north might not need their services again if they refuse to go back and serve their respective communities” she stressed.
“The Northern Region still has a high percentage of pupil teachers, she noted.
The Savelugu-Nanton District Director of Education, Madam Adriana Kandilige said there were 358 trained and 437 untrained teachers in the district.
That, she said included 121 community teaching assistants, adding that the district needed to organise a lot of training courses for them to enhance effective teaching and learning.
Madam Kandilige, however, expressed concern about the loss of contact hours, absenteeism, lateness to school and early closure of schools due to the lack of commitment on the part of teachers.
She noted that although the district was close to the Tamale Metropolis, it did not benefit significantly from the supply of trained teachers.
Madam Kandilige expressed regret that although the district assembly had constructed a good number of teachers’ quarters, most of the teachers in the area preferred to live in Tamale and commute daily to and from their respective schools in the district.
According to her, the teachers complained of lack of potable water and electricity in their communities.
She, therefore, announced that the district directorate of education had instituted an awards scheme to honour teachers who accepted postings to the district and stayed for at least two years.The ACE Co-ordinator, Mr Eric Kavaarpuo said the Gushiegu and Karaga districts have about 181 trained and 603 untrained teachers.
“It is our hope to double the number of trained teachers in Karaga and Gushiegu by 2013,” he stated.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


THE Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TaMA) and its partners have released more than GH¢1.6 million to undertake six projects in the Metropolis.
The projects, some of which have been completed and others ongoing, are the construction of a 20-seater toilet facility and a wall at Koblimahagu, a 20-seater toilet facility for the Ghana Senior High School (GHANASCO), road markings and rumble strips at various locations within the Metropolis.
The rest are the completion of an Out Patients Department (OPD) building for the Tamale West Hospital, an ongoing construction of an assembly hall complex and repair of a grader belonging to the assembly.
The projects were funded with the TaMA’s share of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) under its District Wide Assistance Programme (DIWAP) and the Ghana Road Fund.
During a tour of the facilities, the Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Alhaji Abdulai Haruna Friday, urged the contractors to complete the ongoing projects as soon as practicable.
According to him, the assembly hall complex which was being funded by the DACF is estimated to cost GH¢1.3 million while the OPD for the Tamale West Hospital costs GH¢139,871. The OPD was funded by CIDA under its DIWAP programme.
He further explained that the 20-seater toilet facility located at Koblimahagu costs GH¢76,000 while the similar facility constructed at GHANASCO costs GH¢44,000. The toilets were constructed with funds from the DACF.
The MCE commended the TaMA’s development partners, like the CIDA, for supporting development projects in the three northern regions.
Alhaji Haruna later inaugurated the OPD that has six consulting rooms.
The facility would ultimately help ease congestion at the Tamale West Hospital’s old OPD.
The MCE cautioned residents, particularly squatters, against breaching the peaceful atmosphere around the new OPD and entreated management of the hospital to take good care of the facility.
The Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr Bashiru Majeed, observed that the hospital faced such challenges as poor ventilation, congestion and inadequate space for both patients and health personnel on duty.
“Most of the health personnel usually hang around without offices due to the congestion; in fact, the new facility would help ease a lot of pressure on the few facilities at the hospital,” he pointed out.


AA GROUP of concerned trained teachers in the Gushiegu District of the Northern Region have expressed concern about the poor academic performance among students in schools in the area.
They blamed the situation partly on the lack of supervision, the recruitment of untrained teachers with the adoption of bad teaching methods and bribery and corruption among some education authorities in the area.
The teachers who pleaded anonymity stated this during an interaction with the Daily Graphic at Gushiegu.
They pointed out that some parents did not invest in their children’s education thereby resulting in the poor performance of the school pupils.
In the communities, some parents do not value education and so do not care what their wards do during or after school hours, while they do not encourage their children to learn after school and some of the kids have to fend for themselves, they lamented.
According to them “those untrained teachers can only teach the school pupils to sing and dance without teaching them how to read and write effectively”.
They denied some reports in the media that suggested that all teachers both trained and untrained were to blame for the poor academic performance among school children, stressing that “we the trained teachers are not to blame for such unfortunate trend in education in the area”.
The teachers further stressed that the current state of affairs could be addressed if the recruitment of trained teachers was encouraged and made to be more transparent.
They alleged that for transparency to prevail during the recruitment of teachers in the district, bribery and corruption should be avoided and those employed should be given their appointments based on merits.
The teachers equally suggested a thorough house-cleaning exercise within the office of the Ghana Education Service (GES) in the district, to remove the rot in the system to pave way for the right things to be done.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


THE long-standing misunderstanding and rivalry between the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) and the Metro Mass Transit Limited (MMT) in the Tamale metropolis has been resolved.
This followed the establishment of a new bus terminal by the MMT near the Aboabu Timber market which started operating in June this year.
Until recently, both the GPRTU and the MMT operated from the Savelugu lorry station located within the Central Business District of the Metropolis. The MMT’s relocation has eased congestion at the Savelugu lorry Park and enhanced the free flow of traffic at the station.
In May 2008, members of the GPRTU threatened to go on strike over what they described as “unfair and unhealthy competition” from the MMT.
The GPRTU also gave a one-week ultimatum to the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TAMA) to resolve the matter and bring sanity into the transport sector.
Among the arguments advanced by members of the GPRTU was the need for the MMT to reduce the “relatively high number of its buses plying the routes in the northern region.”
The new terminal, which is still being put into shape, can accommodate 150 buses.
Traders in the Metropolis, particularly the Aboabu area, are cashing in on the new terminal to improve on their sales as most of them have also relocated to the area to transact business.
The Northern Regional Manager of the Tamale Depot of the MMT, Mr Stephen Abukari, observed that there were such challenges as fencing of the terminal and getting the grounds prepared to befit its status as a new terminal.
According to him, the operation of the new terminal had helped to stop cases of theft that were being recorded at the former terminal within the Savelugu lorry station.
“The new terminal is spacious and there is enough ventilation and seats for passengers,” he noted.
Mr Abukari further explained that the new terminal had brought in a new lease of life into the company’s operations.
He intimated that the terminal had equally enhanced the company’s operations as it was now fully operating in all the districts of the region.
“Patronage has increased these few months and we are raking in more revenue as compared to the period when we were at the Savelugu lorry station,” he pointed out.
He indicated that the MMT in Tamale had a total staff strength of 254 and operated 70 buses out of which 25 had broken down.
The manager stated that the broken down buses had, to some extent, affected the MMT’s operations but added that the top management of the company was working round the clock to get the buses back onto the roads.
Touching on security at the new terminal, Mr Abukari intimated that a team of policemen had been detailed to be patrolling the terminal every day and “very soon this terminal would become the best in the metropolis.”
“The recent visit of the new Board Chairman, Mr Antwi Gyamfi, and the new Managing Director of the company, Mr Maxwell Anku, has reassured us that good things are coming in the near future,” the manager stated.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and ARB Apex Bank Limited have extended GH¢4.5 million credit to 1,255 farming groups in the Northern Region under the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP).
The funds were provided under the value chain financing mechanism of the NRGP programme to the beneficiaries, comprising 7,910 males and 3,262 females, who are into the cultivation of maize, sorghum and soya bean.
At a forum on the NRGP approach to agricultural commodities value chain financing in Tamale, the National Programme Co-ordinator, Mr Roy Ayariga, explained that the NRGP had already provided “matching grants to subsidise equipment and machinery”.
The forum was aimed at bringing together key implementing partners to discuss the potential and challenges of the approach to help promote profitable agri-business for all actors along each commodity value chain.
The chain is made up of farmers, marketing companies, processing firms, input dealers, service providers and transporters.
“It is worthy to note that these funds come from the banks’ own resources because they have confidence in the value chain approach,” Mr Ayariga stated.
According to him, the rationale behind the NRGP was to assist the northern farmer to do profitable agri-business to overcome poverty and create wealth.
“Agricultural credit delivery is often problematic due to the risks associated with it and as such farmers always complain that the banks release funds late or that the approved loans are inadequate,” he observed.
The co-ordinator said in recognition of these constraints, the NRGP Value Chain Approach was aimed at establishing sustainable business linkages along the value chain of a particular commodity in such a way that the banks, input dealers, service providers, marketing companies and farmer groups were comfortable in doing business with each other.
He announced that the NRGP had also introduced “the cashless credit system” where the farmer groups, the banks and the facilitating agencies agree and certify input dealers and mechanisation service providers and marketing companies in advance”.
The Rural Financial Services Specialist, Mr Emmanuel Antwi, stated that one of the guidelines of the NRGP’s financing arrangements for farmer groups through the banks was to ensure that every farmer under the programme was issued with a business book which would contain the records of his or her business accounts and other vital information on his or her agricultural business activities.