The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has eulogised Ghana’s late Prime Minister, Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, of his vision for the development of rural areas and human resource capital and affirmed the government’s resolve to continue that philosophy to ensure that everybody is included in the country’s development agenda.
He stated that Dr Busia’s passion for rural development resulted in his creation of the first Ministry of Social and Rural Development to ensure that not only cities were developed but rural areas, where about 60 per cent of the people lived, were provided with their share of the national cake.
Dr Bawumia was speaking at a ceremony in Wenchi, the hometown of the late Dr Busia, to mark the end of activities commemorating the 40th anniversary of his death.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life, including family members, politicians and the clergy, among others, took part in the commemoration which was interspersed with speeches and wreath laying at the graveside of the late Premier.
As part of the programme, Dr Bawumia also cut the sod for the construction of an ultra-modern library and museum to immortalise the memory of the late Dr Busia.
When completed, the two projects are expected to be reference points for the inculcation in the youth of Wenchi in particular, and the country in general, values such as hard work, humility, respect for human rights, democratic accountability and dedication to the country’s development, among others, which Dr Busia exhibited during his lifetime.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Bawumia said rural development was very important to the government because poverty in the country remained largely rural.
“Every 60 out of 100 Ghanaians live in rural areas and if poverty remained largely rural then you and I can appreciate the urgency of a rural development agenda,” he stated.
“We should not be proud that the distribution of wealth and access to social amenities in the country are skewed towards the urban centres where 40 out 100 Ghanaians live,” he added.
Dr Bawumia acknowledged that as the leader of the Progress Party (PP), Dr Busia’s stimulated conversation about rural development, focusing on agriculture for food and livelihood support, roads for access to markets and general mobility from one place to another and provision of essential amenities such as good drinking water, electricity and housing.
“He saw all these as necessary if we are to build an economy capable of supporting modernity and equitable society”, he said and added that Dr Busia saw agriculture as bedrock for the country’s development after all “food is the first safeguard against deprivation and poverty.”
Dr Bawumia said even though Dr Busia believed in market capitalism; he was not a believer of unbridled market capitalism, explaining that “he wanted to build a democratic welfare state where people lived in a social framework where each is his brother’s keeper”.
“Yes, it is expensive, yes, it is not easy, but the alternative is more difficult. The alternative of illiteracy is more expensive for this country and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says we cannot afford it. We will make sure that our children go the SHS free so that they can be the Busias of tomorrow,” Dr Bawumia declared.
He stated that the over 500,000 students who would be placed in the various SHSs in the country this month included about 180,000 more than the figure recorded from last year’s figure.
“Imagine if Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia did not get a chance to go to Mfantsipim School. Who then say free SHS is not good or it is not time for its implementation?” Dr Bawumia said, adding that “those who hold that view are telling us that we should sit down unconcerned for over 100,000 pupils to be deprived of SHS education every year”.
“What does that mean for the future of the country?” he questioned and declared that “under Nana Akufo-Addo’s government free SHS is non-negotiable and what we need to do is to work hard to find the resources to finance the policy.”
For his part, the Minister for Planning and Member of Parliament for Wenchi, Professor George Gyan-Baffuor, expressed regret about the distortion of the late Dr Busia’s history by his opponents.
“Our political tradition, the Busia-Danquah-Dombo tradition, has been the vanquished in most of our 60 years of independence,” he said and explained that it had been so since people on the other side of the isle had ruled the country for a combined period of about 45 years since independence.
Prof. Gyan-Baffuor explained that symbols, artifacts such as monuments, statues and tombs, folklore, street names, names of overpasses, circles and bridges, names of schools and universities and names of stadiums bore the history of a country and were usually written in favour of those in power.
He stated that the story of people in the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition had been forgotten and called for something to be done for the sake of posterity.
As part of the ceremony, the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Samira Bawumia, presented books to ten selected schools in the Wenchi and Techiman municipalities.