Opinions of Tue, 7 Aug 2018166
Vote ‘No’ to creation of new regions for your own sake
President Akufo-Addo has directed the Electoral Commission (EC) to organise referenda in areas of the proposed new regions by the end of 2018.
If you live in any of the six areas, I urge you to vote NO during the referenda for your own sake because you will be massively disappointed if the new regions are created.
The new regions will not bring development to your area. Instead, scarce resources will be wasted in creating mammoth bureaucracies, after which there will be no money for development projects.
The new regions will not bring development because regional administrations have no governance structure to embark on development activities. The power for governance at the local level is vested in the districts, NOT the regions! The Constitution states that Ghana shall have a central government and a local government.
Article 241 (1) states: “For the purposes of local government, Ghana shall be deemed to have been divided into the districts in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution.”
And Clause 3 states: “A district assembly shall be the highest political authority in the district, and shall have deliberative, legislative and executive powers.”
Article 245 (1) states: “Parliament shall, by law, prescribe the functions of district assemblies which shall include (a) the formulation and execution of plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilisation of the resources necessary for the overall development of the district; (b) the levying and collection of taxes, rates, duties and fees.
On the other hand, the Constitution assigns only a couple of vague functions to a regional minister; that is, he or she shall: (a) represent the President in the region, and (b) be responsible for the coordination and direction of the administrative machinery in the region (Article 256 (1)). Thus, the regional administration does not have the mandate or recourses to embark on any development activity.
Apart from the fact that there is no need for new regions, a bigger issue is the cost of creating and running six of them. Each of the six new regions will come with the following and more: The regional minister’s residence; the office complex for the regional administration; furniture, equipment and supplies; fleet of vehicles; salaries for (over-bloated) staff; utility bills; day-to-day running; and probable pilfering of taxpayer’s money and other resources.
The top positions at the regional administration—regional minister and deputy regional minister; coordinating director and deputy coordinating director; and other senior staff—come with free housing, personal vehicles, personal secretaries and other perks.
The regional minister typically gets two vehicles—a sedan for local use and SUV for distant travels. Then there is the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) comprising the regional minister and his/her deputy; presiding member and district chief executives (DCEs) of all districts in the region; and two chiefs from the Regional House of Chiefs.
Members of the RCC take various allowances. Multiply these costs by six, and you’re talking about billions of cedis!
In addition to the central administration and coordinating council, regional directorates of government agencies such as the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Education Service, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), regional houses of chiefs, regional police and fire services, and many more (the list is endless) would have to be set up.
These also come with all the bureaucratic trappings as listed above. It will require tens of billions of cedis to set up and run the central administrations and regional directorates. Where will the money come from to pay for all these?
The President has often talked about inheriting empty coffers. But there is the need to fund the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy. Every public school, from basic to tertiary, needs adequate accommodation, furniture, classroom blocks, books and other supplies, etc.
In every district, there are schools under trees. Every public hospital in the country lacks adequate staff, equipment and supplies. We need $100 million to reclaim “galamsey” lands, and we need good roads; potable water; jobs for the youth; steady supply of electricity, lower fuel prices, etc. Then there are the one-district, one-factory, one-village, one-dam and Planting For Food and Jobs schemes.
Why is the government wasting billions of cedis to create six new regions when there are so many pressing needs? The President talks about responding to demands by citizens of those areas, and the demand has been made basically so as to bring development to their areas. I contend that the creation of new regions will not address their needs because regional administrations cannot and do not embark on development activities.
The government can and should make a conscious effort to address the development needs in those areas without creating new regions.
I urge residents in those areas to vote NO in the referenda for their own sake because they will be greatly disappointed after the creation of the new regions. Better yet, they should urge the government not to rush into organising the referenda. They should ask the government to first let them and all Ghanaians know how much it would cost to organise the referenda; how much it would cost to run six new regions; and most importantly, where the money is coming from to pay for all these. Personally, I do not understand why the referenda are taking place only in the areas of the proposed new regions. All Ghanaians should participate in the referenda because it is our money!