25 February 2010

Ghana: 'Enough of Bawku Conflict' Upper East Students at UDS Cry Out

Tamale — The Upper East Students Union of the University for Development Studies (UDS) Tamale campus has called for an end to the Bawku chieftaincy conflict that has claimed several lives, and created a bad image for the people in the region.

"Enough is enough, and we must know that Bawku is not for us, but for the future generation." The students say they are worried about the situation in Bawku, because it portrays them as violent people among their colleague students, anywhere they find themselves.

The President of the union, Robert Kolbilla, said this during the inauguration of the union in Tamale. The formation of the Students Union is to vigorously advocate for peace, unity, and development for the people in the region.

It is also to have a collective voice and united front to protect the interest of the Upper East students in the university, and also monitor the movement and activities of each member student, to ensure total discipline and effective studies.

The inauguration was under the theme: "Promoting Peace, Unity and Interpersonal Tolerance in Upper East-the Role of tertiary Students." Robert Kolbilla noted that the conflict in Bawku was a major source of worry to all Ghanaians, especially the students from the area. He therefore called for an end to the conflict, through interpersonal tolerance, and to ensure peace and development in the area.

According to him, the students, who were seen as knowledgeable persons in their respective communities or villages, could play an important role to ensure that peace and unity was returned to the region.

The students' leader, on the other hand, called for the rebranding of the region, and appealed to politicians and the media to be circumspect in the way and manner they carry information about Bawku.

Kolbilla, again, appealed to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to, without any further delay, fulfill its promise of finding a lasting solution to the Bawku conflict, to enable the area benefit adequately from the Savanna Accelerated Development Agenda (SADA).

He also called for the creation of more job opportunities for the idle youth of Bawku, and the entire region, in order to discourage them from engaging in violence and self-destruction.

The Bawku Municipality, which is the second largest commercial city in the Upper East Region, has since 2007, been in turmoil, as a result of a communal violence between the Kusasis and the Mamprusis.

The two people, who used to live together, eat together, socialise together, attend each other's funerals, weddings, naming ceremonies, and even inter-marry, have now gone impatient, and are living on lines of mistrust, disintegration, and antagonism.

The Bawku Municipality has since been under a curfew, with heavy military and police presence.

As a result, monies meant for development of the area, are being channeled into the maintenance of security, while the majority of its inhabitants, especially women and children, have fled the Bawku Municipality to seek refuge elsewhere.

Against this backdrop, the youth of the region, pursuing tertiary education at the University for Development Studies, have realised the need to come together to advocate for peace, unity and development in Bawku, through the formation of the Upper East Students Union of the UDS.

On his part, the Patron of the union, Dr. Robert Kuganab-lem, said the Bawku conflict was being fueled by the peddling of falsehood by some influential persons in the area, and therefore encouraged the students to continue their peace advocacy campaign, until the conflict is brought under control.

Dr. Kuganab-lem however appealed to the Peace Council handling the Bawku crisis, to desist from engaging the chiefs in dialogue, and rather concentrate on the youth, who were the active players in the conflict.

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