She said the days when chiefs led their people to the battlefield were gone and so the chiefs were now expected to lead in the “battle to bring development to their areas”.
Speaking at the Apoo Festival observed by the chiefs and people of Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, Mrs Mahama said as agents of development, chiefs should use festivals to create the socio-economic partnerships needed to promote investment, in order to accelerate the quest for development.
“In this regard , it is important to partner with government, the Municipal and District Assemblies, non-governmental organisations, and the corporate world, to attract the needed development projects and programmes to your traditional areas”, Mrs Mahama said.
Apoo festival is one of the major festivals celebrated by the people of Brong Ahafo and attracts wide patronage by both indigenes and foreigners.
It is a period to get rid of grievances that have been harboured by people throughout the year.
As part of the celebration, the Lordina Foundation organised free breast cancer screening for the women and mothers across the Region.
The First Lady described festivals as significant occasions in the lives of people and societies and served as link between the past, present and future, reminding people of their history, traditions and values.
She urged the people to use the festival to promote their rich culture as it is platform for tourism in the region.
She, however, reminded the people that such social interactions came with risks, especially for a major commercial transit points like Techiman, therefore, they should be conscious of the health and social risks that the people were likely to be exposed to.
“This is why the Ghana Chapter of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission and the Lordina Foundation, will continue to raise awareness, and provide education for the prevention of new HIV infections, especially during festivities and holidays such as these”.
“We will, however, work to bring services to your doorsteps”, Mrs Mahama said.
She explained that her Foundation would not relent until every Ghanaian knew their HIV status, until all babies were born HIV negative and until HIV-related stigma was banished from communities.
Mrs Mahama gave the assurance that as Chairperson of OAFLA and Head of the Lordina Foundation, she would continue to partner the chiefs, queen mothers and religious leaders in the fight against cervical and breast cancers, saying, “early detection and treatment is the key”.
She also reiterated her call on parents, traditional rulers, and religious leaders to put their efforts together to end child marriages in Ghana.
“As a mother, the practice breaks my heart, but more importantly, it negatively affects the future of the thousands of young girls, across Ghana and beyond”.
She said a UNICEF data revealed a worrying reality of 41,000 girls getting married each day; 28 girls got married every minute while in every two seconds, a girl got married.
The First Lady, therefore, called on Ghanaian society to ensure that girls were allowed to stay in school to realise their full potentials and not to be forced into child marriages.
She said government would continue to invest a lot of resources to improve the health, education and road infrastructure, and accelerating programmes to improve livelihoods, reduce poverty and disease, and create employment for the people.
The First Lady also used the occasion to appeal to the people to help ensure successful general elections in an environment of peace and security in November.
Nana Wiafe Akenten III, Omahene of Offinso Traditional Area, commended government for the various development projects that were ongoing in the region.
Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketsia, General Secretary of the NDC, appealed to the chiefs to properly plan the Apoo festival for it to attract the right investors to the area for the needed development to occur.