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Creating a "Savannah Region" from Northern Region

Tue, 28 Jul 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

. Is it not time Politicians?

Did the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promise the people in some

parts of Northern Region a new region? The answer is clearly yes!! In fact these promises are documented. Both the NDC and NPP have on several platforms made promises in connection with with the creation of a second Region in the Northern Region.

For instance in June 2008 the current Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana John Dramani Mahama went to officially introduce himself to the Yagbonwura (Paramount Chief of the Gonja Kingdom) and sought his blessing. He categorically stated the NDC will create a new Region in the Northern Region to pave way for accelerated development if it was elected into office in last years election.

Before this promise by the NDC, then Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addressing the King of the Gonjas, Yagbonwura Bawa Doshi in his palace at Damongo in January 2008 gave a firm promise of creating a new region in the Northern Region during the first year of his rule. He promised to work assiduously to ensure the realisation of the dream of a new region in Gonjaland if he was elected President at the last election. Akufo-Addo also assured the people of Gonjaland that their long cherished dream of a region would receive serious consideration under his Presidency, in line with his vision of ensuring accelerated national development.

Well, if the two leading political parties did made promises, then the time has come for the victorious one to back such a promise with action.Â

It is quite surprising that his Excellency the Vice President, John Mahama and other leading NDC members who were so passionate about the issue of a second region in the Northern Region has so far not done anything about their promise eight good months into office of their party.

May I remind readers that during the 2005 parliamentary vetting of Ministerial nominees, John Mahama, then Member of Parliament for Bole-Bamboi asked Hon. Ernest Akubuo Debrah and Boniface Abubakari Sadique who were the outgoing and incoming Northern Regional Ministers respectively about their opinion on the issue of creating a second region out of the Northern Region. Both nominees were unequivocal on the enormity of the daunting administrative challenges that the sheer size of the region poses to effective governance.

It was quite significant that John Mahama was the one asking the questions because as a key member of the NDC party and presently the Vice- President of Ghana, his interest in the subject may have been motivated by his party's position on the matter or at the very least by his own convictions on the subject. At any rate it gives an indication of the fact that there would be support from both the majority and minority for any proposal on the floor of parliament to partition the Northern Region into two or more administrative regions.

In another instance Mr John Mahama as Member of Parliament for Bole-Bamboi once questioned Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, then Minister of Presidential Affairs on the floor of Ghana's Parliament if it was normal that since 2003, no action had been taken on a petition by the Yagbonwura, Bawa Doshi ( Supreme Traditional ruler of all people in Gonjaland) on the creation of region out of the Northern Region.

I quite remember Mr Mpiani said the creation of a region was a serious matter that needed to be studied, and that the President was doing exactly so. He further said the Office of the President and the Council of State were studying the petition by the Yagbonwura, for the division of the Northern Region into two regions and "an appropriate response will be issued in due course". He also disclosed that, then President John Agyekum Kufuor had acknowledged the receipt of the petition and had accordingly informed the Yagbonwura that action was being taken on the matter.

John Mahama drew Mr Mpiani's attention to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, saying the President after receiving a petition was not to spend time studying the matter but rather after consultation with the Council of State, a commission was to be set up to look into the matter. Mr Mpiani also referred to the Constitution, saying it had provided that the President decides the merits or otherwise of a petition in consultations with the Council of State before setting up a commission.

All these soothing words to Gonjas came to pass and the people of Gonjaland punished the NPP government for "deceiving" them about the creation of a second region from the present amorphous and unwieldy Northern Region. I have a strong conviction the same fate awaits the NDC if they also do nothing about the issue before the 2012 election. The people of Gonjaland believe the creation of a new region would remove all bottlenecks that impede the smooth administration and development of their area and also bring about an accelerated development as well as administrative efficiency.

Gonjaland people believe limited attention has always been given to the development needs of their area by successive governments. Infrastructure development projects by governments such as roads, water, agriculture development, telecommunication, primary health care, educational facilities and access to the mass media and and so on in their part of the region appear not to have been given the kind of importance like other areas. They therefore expressed extreme anger over what they saw as the NPP government's failure in fulfilling its numerous campaign promises made to the them. In fact they were left with no option than to cast their votes massively against the NPP in the December general elections resulting in the party not winning a single seat in Gonjaland notwithstanding the fact that Akufo-Addo realising the seriousness of the matter and a desperate move promised to create a new region during the first year of his rule.

Early this year and not long after the NDC's 'sweet victory' over the NPP, the Gonjaland Youth Association held its 33rd Annual Congress at Bole in the Nothern Region. In response to an appeal by the Gonja Traditional Council to government to expedite action on the long standing proposal to carve another region out of the present Northern region, the Vice- President John Dramani Mahama himself from Gonjaland, said a team of experts was to critically assess the process of demarcation and hold consultations with the various stakeholders after which the largest region in the country, the Northern Region, which stretches over a third of Ghana's land mass is to be split into two to enhance easy administration and development. This inspirational message was welcomed but the question is: Has the team of experts been constituted and if not when?

There are many Ghanaians especially people of Northern decent who believe the NDC government can fulfill their promises. Urgent action must therefore be taken on the request for the creation of a "Savannah Region" with Damongo or Buipe as the regional capital within the shortest possible time.

A word to the wise is......

By: Mahama Haruna.


The writer is the Secretary of the Bole Branch of the Gonjaland Youth Association-Greater Accra.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama