There has been much talk about bridging the gap between the north and south for a very long time.
The most recent attempts by successive governments to address these was the creation of a northern development fund by the J.A Kufuor led administration during the last days of his government.
The late J.E.A Mills Administration and that of JDM further enforced this. We all do know the challenges and scandals associated with SADA and now the Northern Development Authority.
If you trace each scandal, it would lead you to a prominent child of the north who created, looted and shared. How can we bridge the gap while the educated few steal what belongs to the masses?
The Municipal and District Assemblies in Northern Ghana
It is only in the five regions of the north that you have the Municipal and District Chief Executives, the Planning Officers, Budget Officers, Finance Officers, Coordinating Directors and Assistants most reside in Tamale, Wa and Bolgatanga instead of in their various districts.
These officers would often leave the regional capitals mentioned above on Mondays to their respective districts. They leave the districts every Thursday back to the regional capitals in the name of going to pray or spend the weekend.
The expenses are all in the name of the districts. Before we can bridge the gap between the north and south, we need to change our attitude to work.
If you have an appointment with any staff on Monday morning in any of the districts or municipalities outside the regional capital, you are most likely not going to meet anyone.
The least said about Fridays the better. As for Fridays, in some districts and municipalities, ruminants might greet you.
Not even security personnel are at post. Do we truly think we can develop or catch-up with the south with this attitude towards work?
A District Director for Education in the then Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo district in 2016 during a stakeholders meeting said, “The offices of the assembly are only opened if there is something to be shared”.
Although the assistant director present at the meeting tried hard to explain, a simple question from the Director of education silenced him.
The Director asked him how many times he has been to work for that particular month and whether he was on any official duties during his absence. He could not answer.
The sad aspect is that these officials complain of lack of resources to provide basic amenities for their communities yet they can afford to fuel their vehicles twice a week for prayers and weekends.
Take for example, the Mamprugu Moagduri education directorate needs only one thousand Ghana cedi a month to enable the six SISOs to effectively monitor their schools. The district Assembly is unable to provide yet these officers do sleep in Hotels in Walelwale each time they are returning to Tamale on Thursday.
Go to the Nadwoli/Kaleo district of the upper west region and the assistant Coordinator who is a native is managing the whole place. Other staff are always not around. This is what we need to change first before thinking of closing the gap between the north and south.
I salute the current Coordinating Director for Bawku Municipality. Although he is not a native but he is at post regardless of the daily disturbances in the township.
These are people we need to enable us to bridge the gap, not those who return to pray on Fridays or spend weekends while the districts need money to provide basic social amenities.
The Educational Sector
For us to be able to bridge the gap between the north and the south, we need to have educated people.
The south are ahead of us in terms of the number of educational infrastructure and opportunities yet they are doing everything to ensure that their children are in school. The opposite is the case in northern Ghana.
While non-governmental organizations are doing everything possible to get children in school, parents are frustrating the effort.
It is farming season now, just take a walk to the nearest school in any part of the north and realize that most children have been withdrawn from school to work in the farms.
As if this was not enough, teachers also refuse posting to rural communities. Those who accept postings will visit the school once a week.
The most unfortunate aspect is that most of the natives are refusing postings to teach in their own communities. They would use politicians and chiefs as well as religious leaders to get re-posting. One head teacher told me that the challenges in schools with respect to the performance of students was because of the attitude of teachers.
According to him, 80 percent of the challenges are due to the lackadaisical attitude of teachers.
The current government has reduced the authority of the district Director to that of a pupil teacher. Postings of teachers done directly from Accra. There are instances where some teachers have been posted to communities without schools.
The District Directors could not affect the changes locally unless Accra. Teachers know that their Directors cannot determine which schools they are posted to therefore they cannot control them.
If we do not change our attitude to work at the assemblies and at the educational sector, we should just stop dreaming about bridging any gap.
The writer is a Social Development Worker