Youth in the northern parts of the country are sleeping and need to be shaken from that slumber.
This is because the potential of the northern regions as the future of Ghana became evident since the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Right through that; period till now, the region benefited from standard irrigation facilities at Vea in Bolgatanga with other such facilities being put in place later at Tono and Pwalugu under subsequent administrations is a pointer to the fact about the regions’ fortunes in generating employment for the mutual benefit of families, communities and the country at large.
Unfortunately, the potential of the northern regions in effectively impacting agriculture is waning as we experience a decline in agriculture in those parts of the country arising out of the youth’s shunning of the ages-long vocation.
We would recall that, about three decades ago, nearly every civil servant or public servant, including security personnel, politicians, and businessmen from the north, had interests in agriculture, whether livestock or crop.
The area was rich in vegetables and staples including tomato, onions as well as rice, yams and cattle, goats, and sheep.
Aboabo in Tamale and Techiman down south in the Middle Belt used to be vibrant international trade routes until Nigeria and Burkina Faso rose to become leaders at some point.
Unfortunately, what we see today at a time government is promoting agricultural initiatives to recover lost ground is a surge in youth chasing public sector jobs, while their parents’ vocations are abandoned.
It is interesting that those who fail to grab white-collar jobs – and the figures are huge – get into Okada and such businesses because of the quick financial returns.
Inability on the part of the youth to access such jobs results in an armed robbery in a region known for the last several decades for civility.
That is why the report in the Ghanaian Times of Wednesday, February 17, 2021, on recurring acts of banditry makes interesting reading.
According to the report, tricycle [pragya] drivers, who are predominantly youth, have lodged complaints with the police about the operations of bandits in communities in Builsa South.
That part of the country, like most communities in the Upper East region, has also been peaceful as an agricultural hub in the sub-region.
Considered against the background of bandits attacking cargo trucks and shooting and robbing passengers, our dream of turning the entire northern regions into an agribusiness hub in West Africa may fade unless the youth change their attitudes and dream big.
Our gripe is that while the political authorities accept the fact that the population in agriculture is aging, with the youth abandoning agriculture, particularly in the Upper East, nothing is being done about it in terms of cracking the whip and awareness generation.
Additionally, blaming others for poor yield or lack of markets is not the enduring path to improving one’s livelihoods.
Worse still is the fact that basic patriotic duties like community policing are becoming a burden left on the shoulders of the police alone.
In communities where every individual has a name and face unlike Accra and Kumasi; or Koforidua and Tema, youth making such complaints to police come up, in our opinion, only as playing the coward.
That is why we insist that the acts of banditry along the northern and Upper Region stretch into Burkina Faso should be investigated with the delinquent youth themselves as primary suspects.
We insist on that because the criminal activities cannot be coming from the aged population.
That rampant claims on the part of the youth that the Fulani herdsman is the only person capable of raping women and robbing crop and livestock or even cross border cement traders and distributors must give way to another theory to make widen our investigative processes and strategies.
Government and the public should wake up to the fact that communal security as an ingredient to productivity and progress is imperative in rolling out the several initiatives under the Northern Regional Development Authority, particularly the agricultural zones that the government would be putting in place.
While we commend the police and military chiefs for their pledge to increase patrols along the stretch and provide escorts for cross border cargo trucks, we urge the assemblies to be part of the processes of using their research departments to probe who are pigheaded enough to rob others in broad daylight and at points close to town.
Without securing the regions and reorienting the youth, any attempt to industrialize the zones would be like putting water into a palm frond basket.