Before President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government took office on January 7, 2017, life in Muslim communities popularly referred to as Zongos across the country was one of abject poverty, untold hardship, hordes of school dropouts and poor sanitary conditions.
This was because John Mahama’s administration had no empathy and therefore no clear-cut policy direction for the Zongos. They rarely captured the needs of Zongo people in their manifestos or budgets.
This neglect curtailed the livelihoods and potential of Zongo people and paved the way for the youth to be exploited through illicit activities like robbery, gambling, drug peddling and abuse, prostitution.. Anytime Zongoswere mentioned in the news, it was accompanied by crime.
However, upon assumption of office, with the plight of the Zongo people at heart, President Akufo-Addo established a purpose-driven ministry called the, Ministry of Zongo and Inner-City Development to prioritize and champion the cause of the Zongo people. The results of that trailblazing establishment has been phenomenal under the leadership of the energetic politician and academic and Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dr. Mustapha Hamid.
As a result of the Zongo Development Fund, there has been great improvement in the provision of amenities such as water, sanitation, education and health across Zongo communities in the country. Many state-of-the-art ICT centres have been constructed and equipped in schools in or close toa Zongo community. Notable among them are HurriyaIslamic School in Wa, Falahiyya Islamic School in Tumu. Additionally, with assistance from the ZongoDevelopment Fund, water-closet toilet facilities have been built in most Zongo communities to help curb the practice of open defeacation, improve sanitary conditionsand, with that, better health outcomes and by extension higher productivity among Zongo people.
Zongos have also benefited enormously from the reinstitution of Arabic Instructors programme which John Mahama cancelled. This has afforded thousands of Arabic instructors’ jobs so they can earn an income while helping to shape the lives of young people in the Zongos
That’s not all. In addition to the flagship free SHS policy which many Zongo youth have benefited from, a substantial number of tertiary students have also been sponsored to study medicine in the Republic of Cuba. These medical students upon return to Ghana are expected to attend to the health needs of the Zongos and Ghana as a whole.
Sports is also a major activity among young people in Zongos. In recognition of the overall social benefits of sports, astroturf sports facilities have been established in many Zongo communities including Walewale, Madina in Accra and Asawase in Kumasi and many more; plusthere’s more to follow after 2021.
Furthermore, the ministry has proactively instituted an entrepreneurship programme which has trained and assisted several youth, women and men in Zongos with employable skills.
In spite of all these trailblazing achievements, the government is not resting. The government promises to construct sixteen (16) new model Senior High Schools in Zongos across all the sixteen (16) regions of the country. It is the intention of government to broaden and expand access to education to folks in the various Zongocommunities of the country.
There will also be the Zongo Youth Football Talent Hunt (ZYFTAH). It will be a special programme for the youth aimed at unearthing, developing and promoting football talents in Zongo communities through competitions and football clinics in collaboration with local and international partners.
The Zongo record of the Akufo-Addo-Bawumiaadministration is purposeful and heartfelt. It demonstrates that Ghana is now led by a President and Vice President who care. One who climbs a good tree, deserves indeed to be pushed further up. That should be the purpose of all Ghanaians on December 7, especially if you live in or near a Zongo. By choosing Akufo-Addo-Bawumia and NPP, you’re choosing a better life for the people of Ghana’s Zongos.
The author of this article is Sir Obama Pokuase. You can contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org