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Creation Of New Regions And The Referendum   
 
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27-Dec-2018  
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Gifty Oware-Aboagye
 
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A few weeks ago, the President legally decided that, it was not in his volition alone to divide the country on border lines. He commissioned retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Brobbey to lead an 8 member committee to sample views on this pertinent issues confronting the country.

The committee after several meetings and travels across the length and breadth of the country suggested the need to create six extra regions from the already existing ten instead of the initial three. Quite intriguing?

The mixed feelings amongst many reasons are why I set out to write this article to establish a few of the many tangible reasons for which these new regions ought to be created. I propose in this article very interesting points that must favor the trend of development by effecting the creation of these regions.

Foundation 

Democracy is perceived to be the oars on which development is ferried across to citizens in any country. It is factored as an avenue for the minority to express their views and dissent without any victimization. Decentralization cannot be ignored in this practice, in fact, it directs the minute section of development to the farthest part of the country, and it grants every citizen wherever they find themselves the chance to experience the shared resources of the country.

The concept of decentralization can be traced back to governmental organization with formula for territorial organization. It can be stemmed back to the endogenous imperatives (or internal pressures), such as ethnic and religious tensions, economic crises, demands from minorities for participation and representation and pressure to improve territorial management. Exogenous factors, such as the emergence of global networks which limit the powers of central governments and encourage new actors to participate in a globalized international arena, come into play later on.

Development is believed to be the child of democracy, a very expensive childbirth supposed to grow with every ingredient of the resources of the country. As a very important aspect of every country’s growth, the citizenry must experience impactful policies with a clear roadmap to sustaining the growth that the country has garnered.

The history of Ghana has been quite dramatic towards development and democracy, intermittently, these processes had been truncated to focus on the ideals of individuals who have prescribed their own theories to suit the system they envisaged. The honesty factor often overlooked is that, some of these individual decisions is perceived to have the trailing focus for the upward movement of the development scale of the country. Since independence, Ghana has had to divide itself into regions for a better plan of development. For example, the Brong Ahafo Region Act No. 18 of 1959 established that particular region separating it from the Ashanti and Upper Regions of Ghana.

History is fair on the side of the country’s boundaries, in that, the current boundaries adhered to in Ghana were officially established in 1987. The Upper West Region was a local administration in 1982 before the 1984 National Census, the region was officially inaugurated in 1987. It is very important to note that, as the world travels the path of development adopting very addictive ways of touching the locals in the sense of waning them off poverty, Ghana ought to have a part to play. The expressed views of citizens who by a large means will be affected by the Referendum that seeks to create new regions out of the old ones. This is what this paper seeks to interrogate, the goods, the wrongs, the effects and victories that must come along with this bold decision.

Historical Approach

In history, there was a referendum on constitutional amendment in 1964, this amendment then was simply to make the first president constitutionally and legally backed president and leader of both country and party for life. In actual sense, in every referendum, 50% or 60% of the population ought to vote for the resolution else, it becomes naught to the reason of exercising the vote. The 1964 referendum confirmed the power of Kwame Nkrumah, he ended up with appointments of MPs until there was a coup to return the country to a multiparty state.

The narrow conversation is simply fine tuned into what really explains the essence of creating new regions in a country with so much inabilities to manage the resources available to it, and further examine the principles that underlies such a monumental approach especially when some dissenting voices have raised points to debate the need for such an exercise.

The Western Region of Ghana is believed to own a large quantity of the nation's resources. Unfortunately, the region enjoys a very disturbing fang of apathy, a situation where development is centralized in an area for some people without any diffusion. According to the 2010 Census, the land space of the default region is 23,921Km2 with almost a 2, 400,000 inhabitants.

In July, 1960, it was carved out of the Western Province. Statistics have proven that, quite an impressive number of the region's inhabitants dominates the rural setup. The Ghana Statistical Authority's document on the region depicts that, the coastline seem developed more than the upper side of the region, hence the apathy situation. The Brong Ahafo suffers similar fate, just to be accurate, the region does not own a coastline. The three notable places are found in the upper part of the region, i.e. Sunyani, Techiman and Kintampo. A disturbing number saturates the welcome of the region from the Ashanti Region.

After carefully analyzing the Volta and Northern Regions, the case becomes a worse scenario. The Volta Region has quite an interesting demographic statistics, it harbors the Guans, a few Akans and the Ewes. As established earlier, one of the major reasons for development and decentralization was premised on ethnicity. However, development has been silently truncated at certain places in the region.

There seem to be a deliberate attempt to end certain developmental projects at certain parts of the region. Some of the arguments have been that, there are few hospitals, schools, projects etc. in the Akan/Guan side of the Volta Region than it is at the southern part. The situation as argued in the Northern Region is not different. It is a lost submission to even entertain how Tamale seems to be the only star up North.

As a major decision to encourage, Ghana's Electoral Commission has been charged to begin the processes of conducting a referenda to determine the constitutional threshold for the creation of six new Regions as recommended by the Justice Brobbey Commission of Inquiry.

The proposed new regions are the Western North, Bono East, Ahafo, Savannah, North East, and Oti Regions

Politically, other arguments have sufficed on the budget for the creation and the fortunes this move could establish for whichever political party that supervises it. A recorded audio somewhere around October, 2018 had a Ghanaian with such a dissenting voice ambush the president in the United States of America during his UNGA visit.

He sought to refrain from the usual chorus of how beneficial this was to aide in development in these various catchment areas but instead, focused on the ethnic card of how the President, an Akan would want to divide a region that is noted for voting en-mass for the largest  opposition party.

The president was heard asking if indeed these people were not Ghanaians and that, the division of the regions as a people’s request have stalled for far too long. The underlying trajectory is that, the country cannot fail any of its citizens by refusing them their collective due.

Historic and developmental theories tried and tested have confirmed that, the central government is incapable of overseeing to a developed country successfully without the local government structure.

This is exactly where the financial constraints and the argument of exorbitant fees in this exercise becomes a failure, in that, the consequences of not developing the human resources, the environmental resources and bringing to every corner of your country, the light of basic social amenities is more expensive and dangerous to the growth of society.

Indeed, there has been several agitations championed by a couple of the traditional leaders of the communities affected that, their land space is likely to be affected and that, it opens up avenues for security situations to be breached.

A few reports have emerged with this trend of causing mayhem to register displeasure for the division in certain parts of the country. It raises the concern of unemployment, a subset of development created because the decentralized form of governance is yet to have any meaningful impact on the youth. Security is a vital function of development, it is a very important factor in this exercise and thus fair to the affected parts of the country to narrow down the contents of crime.

Conclusion

It is very important to note that, as a practice, Ghana's local government system formed on the premise of decentralization has some challenges foaming around the implementation processes.

This is found on that tangent of effectively making use of the bottom-up approach to development. As an ardent believer in development, history and security, especially that that has to do with the marginalized in society (women, kids, disables), I pray the appropriate bodies to objectively execute their mandate as directed them by the constitution of this country. I expect the regions to endorse the idea of division on 27th of December, 2018 so as to enable the development and the sharing of the acute resources to trickle down to these places in prompt action.

There is no expensive price to pay for development than leaving every citizen behind. It is a risk to security, life and existence. The failure to ensure that, every citizen is reached in the approach to finding long lasting solutions to the acute poverty, basic amenities etc. is so much a risk that cannot be allowed to survive the countryside. We must leave a legacy befitting the status of a beacon in Africa.
 
 
Source: Gifty Oware-Aboagye/ Deputy Executive Director, National Service Scheme
 
 

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