Launching Of Volta Region Development Plan - Welcome Address By Togbe Afede Xiv, June 30, 2009, Congress Hall, Accra

Your Excellency, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the Vice President of the Republic, Your Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State, Members of the Council of State, Honourable Ministers of State, Honourable Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Our Lord Bishop, the Most Rev F. Lodonu, Your Highness, Prince Dipo Eludoyin of Lagos, Togbewo, Mamawo, Nananom, Niimei ke Naamei, Distinguished Guests, fellow citizens:

On behalf of the chiefs and the people of the Volta Region, I welcome you all warmly to this very historic event. I also want to thank you for honouring us with your presence, mostly at very short notice.

Special thanks to you, Your Excellency, for accepting to be part of this event. I also want to make special mention of our friends from Nigeria - Asiwaju and his entourage, Prince, Moshe Alony and Alex Corem - for the tremendous interest they have shown in this event and the sacrifices they had to make to be here. I am humbled and I feel honoured by your response to my invitation.

Appiah Danquah Kufuor, Mamaga Akosua and Carry Brown, who helped in putting together the two books we are launching, also deserve our gratitude. We are also indebted to the Honourable Andrew Stunell of the British House of Commons for his support.

Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I called this a historic event because we are here to launch the first ever regional development plan of our traditional authorities. We will also be launching the commemorative book of the 5th anniversary of my inauguration as the Agbogbomefia of Asogli.

Through the initiation, and hopefully, the implementation of this development plan, the chiefs are marking a new beginning for the Volta Region. We are taking a bold step towards a stronger acceptance of our responsibility to facilitate the realization of the development aspirations of our people. And we are calling on all of the region's sons and daughters to play a role in the unfolding history.

Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, even long before I assumed the leadership of my people, I always wondered why no country that is majority black and black-led has made it into the ranks of the developed world. From Haiti to Mozambique, the story is not good.

Indeed, while many elsewhere have prospered, the majority of our people continue to wallow in poverty and in conflict, a lot of these conflicts being nothing more than fights over limited resources. The ambitions of our people are limited by inadequate educational facilities and inadequate job opportunities, among others.

The development plan we are launching today was inspired by the belief that the development of our nation is a shared responsibility, and the traditional authorities, who are closest to the people, have an important role to play. Our aim is to contribute to the enhancement of the region's socio-economic infrastructure, and facilitate our attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

The 2009-2014 plan is the first step towards mobilizing the chiefs and the people of the Volta Region for a collective assault on poverty and deprivation. And to make it a plan of the people, we invited input from the people through their chiefs.

This plan, and those which will follow upon its expiration, will be implemented by the newly established Volta Region Development Agency, and should provide an opportunity for the people to voice out their ideas, help set our priorities and become involved in seeing these priorities become realities.

The Volta development planning process should establish a permanent medium for mobilizing the people through a process of participatory development planning. We hope it will inspire a greater commitment to the cause of our development, and teach us all to understand and to uphold the principles of true citizenship, and discourage apathetic spectating. We should begin to work together to prepare a better future for ourselves and the generations to come.

We intend that our plan complements those of Government and other stakeholders. And we want it to contribute to the development of all of Ghana, because we believe our fortunes are inextricably linked. That is why we plan to dialogue regularly with the regional minister, the municipal and district chief executives, and the relevant government ministries, departments and agencies.

A US$250m plan might sound ambitious, but we believe anything far short of that would not make the desired impact. Indeed, for a population of almost 2 million people, it represents a yearly investment of only US$25 per head over five years.

But we also believe that the more difficult a task, the more one is forced to bring to bear all the resources at his disposal, and all the emotion and intellect he can muster. The paradoxical result is that sometimes the higher the goal, the higher our chance for success.

We believe our success will inspire other communities and other traditional rulers. And we believe that with hard work, and with God on our side, we shall succeed.

Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I wish to call on all Voltarians to join us in this effort. God has given each one of us a limited time to make a difference. This is our time. Let's seize the opportunity.


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