Bede Ziedeng escapes grilling at vetting

Politics of Thursday, 14 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Bede Ziedeng

The minister-designate for the Upper West Region, Mr Bede Ziedeng, escaped grilling on his resignation from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), formation of a new party with renegade NDC members and his subsequent return to the party when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament Wednesday.

This followed the intervention of the Chairman of the committee, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro.

The nominee, a former Deputy Minister of the Upper West Region in the first NDC administration and Deputy General Secretary of the party, did not only resign in the run up to the 2008 general elections but also held a press conference to declare support for the then ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) saying his party would feel safer under an NPP administration.

When he appeared before the committee today, it was clear that the members had prepared to take him to task on that move and just as he settled down, Mr Haruna Iddrisu (NDC Tamale South), fired the first salvo asking if he did not think the move he made in 2008 was “a lapse of judgement” on his part.

But Mr Barton-Odro, perhaps fearing that the question was going to open up the nominee to bombardments from the other members, intervened and asked Mr Ziedeng not to answer that question.

Saved by the chairman, Mr Ziedeng only declared his commitment to the NDC saying he was part of the National Executive Committee of the party and if approved by Parliament, would work hard to assist the President, Mr John Mahama, to attain the goals he has set.

He then went on to answer questions on the security situation in the region, the functions of the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RRC), poverty reduction in the Upper West Region and the main problems confronting the people, among other things.

He told the committee that the main problems confronting the people of the region was poverty and hunger and said many interventions instituted in the past had failed.

The best way to deal with the situation, in his opinion, was to modernise agriculture by providing the people with modern machinery and improved seeds, among other things, to enable them to grow more food.

Asked how the influx of people from the northern part of Ghana to the south could be addressed, he said it was only through major interventions such as the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) initiative, adding that if such an intervention was successful, it would address many of the needs of the people and stop the migration to the south in search of jobs.

Mr Ziedeng was also of the view that policies such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) initiative were not far reaching enough and could not reduce poverty.

He said such programmes only gave temporary relief and said like the Chinese proverb goes, government should teach people how to fish instead of giving them fish, adding that empowering the poor with technology to operate effectively in their areas of endeavour, was the ultimate solution.

He noted that the main security challenge in the region was armed robbery on the major roads in the region and said the situation had become difficult to deal with because police posts were far and security forces from Tamale who could offer support were 200 kilometres away from the trouble spots.

To effectively address the problem, he advocated the establishment of a “permanent military station” in the region saying a “show of force” by the military would deter robbers.

The nominee also expressed support for proposals for the Regional Co-ordinating Councils (RRCs) to generate their own funds, saying that would strengthen the decentralisation process.