Inner City and Zongo Development Minister designate is upbeat about transforming the lives and places of residence for slum dwellers popularly referred to as the zongos.
Born and bred in a Zongo community, Alhaji Boniface Saddique, said he has a duty and responsibility to change the sad story of the Zongo community which has been one of depravity and squalor.
He told Joy News’ Evans Mensah shortly after being announced minister designate in the last batch of ministerial appointees, “the Zongos must not be a place to recruit people for violence.”
His portfolio has gained a lot of traction in the media, especially on social media, after what appears to be an avalanche of ministries and appointees announced by President Nana Akufo-Addo.
The president while campaigning, made the story of the Zongos a key part of his campaign issues and promised to put aside a Zongo development fund meant to alleviate the poverty of people living in such areas.
Zongo is an hausa word which means to transit, Boniface Saddique explained. Many of the residents in the zongo communities are settlers living in ramshackle. According to him there are over 365 zongos across the country.
The community is usually over populated, with a huge sanitation problem. Most of the Zongos are also suspected to be havens for criminal activities.
On a day his portfolio was announced, Boniface Saddique said the Zongos have lagged behind for a long time and it is time for something to be done about it.
“We have to bring them to a level they can feel they are a part of the country,” he said.
He said the challenge is to ensure improvement in education, entice good teachers whose salaries will be upgraded and provide infrastructure for residents living in those areas.
“We will carry out an authentic plan and serious education. This is what his Excellency wants us to do so that none will feel left out,” he noted.
But a former Minister under the erstwhile Mahama administration Rashid Pelpuo said the creation of the ministry is an attempt by Akufo-Addo to fulfil his campaign promise for Zongo dwellers.
“It tells us about how he wants to tackle Zongo areas just like the SADA program by the Mahama administration.
“Nana wants to make a political point,” he stated conceding however that the zongo dwellers live in a challenging environment.
He however did not think a man of Saddique’s competence and caliber must be made to do such a job. He explained with his qualification and expertise, the job of a Zongo development project should have been left for a presidential staffer to do.
The Zongo Minister will be one of six other ministers who would be operating at the presidency, Nana Akufo-Addo intimated.