Ghana’s vice-president, John Dramani Mahama has urged Muslims in the various zongo communities in Ghana to compare and contrast the track records of both major parties (NDC& NPP), to see which is more committed to their socio-cultural and economic development over the years before casting their votes in the forthcoming 2012 elections.
Mr. Mahama who said this when he visited the Yankasa Association of USA Inc., the largest and oldest Ghanaian Muslim community in New York City to wind up his book promotion tours across the United States, pointed out that, it was the NDC government under the leadership of the former president Jerry John Rawlings that the Islamic Education Units were established, which among other benefits, placed the Arabic and Islamic teachers under government payroll. He added that, it was the same NDC government under president Rawlings that declared the two Muslim festivals Eidul Fitir and Eidul Adha, public holidays, which hitherto, certain elements in our society thought it was early impossible.
Talking about Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Mr. Mahama gave a short narrative of the unfortunate and indecent conditions that prospective pilgrims were being left at the pre-departure zone under the previous government and pointed out how his government facilitated the Hajj process with full comfort and convenience to the prospective pilgrims – an effort which the pilgrims themselves commended in a series of interviews in Mecca for the last couple of years. He lamented various efforts being put in place by some elements within some parties to declare some members of the zongo communities in Ghana as “non-Ghanaians”, to this he said, “….My first degree was in history and I know that Zongos existed in Ghana over hundreds of years before independence. And upon independence the constitution of Ghana established that anyone who found him or herself in the country before independence is automatically a Ghanaian.”
Vice President Mahama mentioned the recent criticism he received from some politicians, due to consideration given to science students of some deprived communities in the northern region to study medicine in Cuba, and disclosed that the doctor to patient ratio in the upper east region is one doctor to 38,000 patients, and hence the need to consider science students from this area in order to reduce this whopping ratio.
Touching on the state of the economy and his government’s effort so far, the vice-president, whose extempore presentation was expertly interspersed with facts and figures stated that the gas pipeline being constructed at Aboadze will supply electricity at affordable rate for Ghanaians, adding that, the potential revenue for supplying the gas alone can pay for the $3 billion Chinese loan in seven years, a facility which the opposition is lambasting the government against. He disclosed government effort to expand the Tema port and dredge it to make it deeper to allow bigger ships to come into the Ghanaian port with more cargos.
On the issue of basic education, he indicated that the NDC government has expanded the school feeding programme from about 500,000 students under the NPP administration to over one million children. He said the government closed down schools under trees and replaced them with 1,700, as well as provided 43 million exercise books, among other basic school needs nationwide.
Introducing the vice-president, the Chairman of the New York Chapter of the NDC, Alhaji Abass Adamu, who was also one-time vice-president of Yankasa commended Mr. Mahama for his high sense of humility, adding that, “…the more you get close to him the more humble you see him.” Alhaji Abass commended him for cancelling his flight to Ghana, slated for that day in order to enable him interact with the Zongo community in the United States.
The Chairman of the New York Chapter of the NDC Zongo caucus, Mr. Abdul Aziz Chamola commended the vice-president for his amazing intervention to air-lift about six hundred stranded Ghanaian pilgrims to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia last year, adding that Mr. Mahama did that whiles he was in Australia on a diplomatic mission and just one phone call he made on that fateful weekend made it possible for the prospective pilgrims to undertake the Hajj.
Earlier in a welcome address, the president of the Yankasa Association Alhaji Muhammad Mardah applauded the vice-president for his proposal to the Traditional Council to include Zongo traditional chiefs in every traditional chieftaincy in Ghana, which according to him the Zongo communities have been fighting for over the years. He also commended Mr. Mahama for his personal intervention and reconciliation in the recent conflict between some Muslim youth and traditional leaders of Hohoe district.
At the Q&A section, an executive member of the New York Chapter of the NPP Nasara Club, attested to the exceptional humility and meekness of the vice-president which makes him an outstanding leader.
There was a near stampede in the crowd of men and women in their bid to take pictures and shake hands with the charismatic and charming vice-president.
From Husseini Yushau Baba Al-Waiz, New York Correspondent, AfricaNewsAnalysis