Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Thursday said the Akufo-Addo’s government has been promoting inclusive transformation development through the implementation of policies and programmes that recognised the needs and interests of the minority population.
He noted that whenever a society neglected the needs of the minority groups, especially lack of jobs and basic social infrastructure, it often breds instability and conflicts.
Therefore, government had instituted structures and measures to protect the rights of the minority groups and cited the establishment of the Zongo Development Fund, being managed by the Ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development, to bring infrastructural development in the Zongo communities.
He mentioned the implementation of the Free Senior High School (FSHS) programme that enabled children from less privileged homes to access second cycle education, with 30 per cent of the students from deprived communities offered admissions into elite senior high schools, to bridge the gap between students from urban and rural areas.
Vice President Bawumia said this at the opening ceremony of an international religious symposium organised by the Islamic Centre for Education and Development in collaboration with the Muslim World League and Government of Ghana, in Accra on Thursday.
The symposium was held on the theme: “Religious and Ethnic Minorities: Rights and Obligations”, which attracted the Clergy, Muslim clerics, Muslim chiefs, traditional chiefs and the Diplomatic Community.
The platform provided the opportunity for minority religious and ethnic groups to discuss racial differences and misdirected nationalism that often breed religious conflicts and abuse of rights, as well as raise awareness and find workable solutions to foster peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance.
The event brought together high profile personalities across the world, including Mohammed Bin Abdul Karim Alissa, the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Dr Abu Bakr Abdullah, Advisor to the President of Burkina Faso for Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, the National Chief Imam, Most Reverend Gabriel Charles Palmer Buckle, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast of the Catholic Church, Sheikh I.C Quaye, Chairman of the National Hajj Board and Dr Is’haq Noumah, Member of the Union of African Muslim Scholars, Ghana.
Vice President Bawumia said the selection of Ghana to host the event was a manifestation of the freedom of worship and religious tolerance prevailing in the country where Muslims and Christians co-existed peacefully and underlined the need to guard it jealously to promote national development.
He noted that religion was the bedrock of morality with positive values that most societies held them in high esteem; therefore it was prudent to protect the rights of religious minorities to promote social inclusion and development.
He cited the historic and symbolic visit of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu to Christ the King Catholic Church during his 100th birthday celebration, which was celebrated worldwide.
While at Kukuom in the Brong Ahafo Region during the Ramadan tour, Vice President Bawumia was also joined by some pastors from the Christian Council of Churches to the Mosque, to show their solidarity with the Islamic faith and commitment to religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
The Vice President noted that the Akufo-Addo’s government had demonstrated its commitment to inclusive transformation by implementing inclusive programmes, including the One District, One Factory, One Constituency, One Ambulance and One Village, One Dam, which would ensure that no citizen was left behind in accessing the national resources.
More so, government, through the National Identification Authority, was registering all Ghanaians for the Ghana Card, irrespective of one’s religion or ethnic background that would identify Ghana Cardholders as Ghanaians, capable to access basic social services and exercise his/her rights without any restrictions, he said.
Dr Bawumia also cited the political tradition of the New Patriotic Party, which has accepted the norm of selecting a Muslim running-mate to the Christian presidential candidate for presidential election so that the minority members would be at the decision table.
Mohammed Bin Abdul Karim Alissa, the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, in an address, lauded Ghana for promoting religious tolerance and ensuring peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians and being an inspiration of ethnic and religious integration in Africa and the rest of the world.
Dr Cosmos Sabah, a representative of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said religion was a double-edged sod, which is a source of hope and sometimes bred religious controversies and tension.
He said the 1992 Constitution had provision that allowed Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists to pray at national ceremonies and promoted the rights of people with different religious beliefs.