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Opinions Thu, 4 Jul 2013

Do we need a federal system?

This article is not to say I am all knowing or an anti-Accra citizen instead I stand to be corrected. There are numerous problems facing my beloved country which I need not a PhD in governance nor planning to be aware of them let alone suggest their solutions, it is all about a blind inheritance of a legally registered disease but retarding developments known as the unitary governance with centrality.

I think the central system of governance has become an albatross hanging around our necks which needs immediate attention. An end must be put to the political chicanery involved in the disbursement of state funds towards the development of mother Ghana.

It is high time the constitution is amended so that the regional coordinating councils will be empowered financially to take up their own developmental agenda in their respective regions and by seeking developmental partners, help to raise the level of their development. This will help create competition among regions to the advantage of the ordinary Ghanaian.

There is a question of the tendency of some regions gaining undue advantage over the others but that will be catered for by the structure of federalism , In any case, in any proper federal system there are measures in place to check against some regions gaining significant comparative advantage over others and vice versa. For instance, in Australia, the Federal Government has jurisdiction over certain matters such as the military, the collection of personal and corporate income taxes, immigration, customs and etc. However, the states virtually have the responsibility to oversee the running of hospitals, education, policy and so forth. They raise their own other forms of taxes such as land tax, yet receive substantial part of their incomes from the federal government, because they are not able to raise enough taxes on their own to run state polices and so forth.

The centralized system of governance where everything is done in Accra is outmoded. How could government invest almost all the nation’s resources in Accra, a bit in Kumasi and for the rest of the regional capitals is nothing to write home about. Why should the poor man from a village in the Upper East region spend all his hard earned money on transport fare to Accra Kolebu when he is referred for medical treatment? What prevents Keta in the Volta region from having a shipping harbor or Ho from having a stadium? What prevents other regional capitals from having regional specialist hospitals?

What prevents other regional capitals from having good entertainment theaters or venues, universities, children play grounds and airports? The last time I heard a new airport will be built at Prampram. God save mother Ghana. It took me a week to have information on the statistics of cement clinker imported into the country from the Ashanti regional statistical service just because they are ill-equipped. Do I have to travel to Accra for this one too?

The Elizabethan ways of governance and developmental apathy is retarding the nation’s growth. Why should Tarkwa and Obuasi be destroyed to develop others while they remain undeveloped? It’s time for a “quid pro quo”

Forest commission and the national petroleum agency have been placed in greater Accra where there are neither forests nor oil, why not Takoradi? Are inhabitants of the oil and other mining communities supposed to travel all the way to Accra to register their displeasure should any of these companies violate their environmental policies?

Each day hundreds of buses convey people southwards to search for non-existing pastures. The cause of the north-south drift lies in the system of governance, the time has come for Ghana to adopt a semi federal system of governance. I can say for sure that these are some of the reasons why bold steps were taken by Torgbui Afede and the Asantehene to go to china and Israel respectively to seek developmental partners for their regions. Was it not to show their displeasure in the state of developments? Its high time we nib the canker in the bud.

I agree with the Okyehene when he stated at the launch of the ghana @ 50 celebrations documentary on population development by saying “ it is woefully unfair that after 50 years of independence we have not been able to transform a single village into a town because government after government in this country is obsessed with the centrality of government and so the large chunk of development infrastructure is located at the seat of government to the detriment of the greater majority of our people”

How should someone sit in Accra and determine the academic syllabus for the poor child in a school in Sehwi new Papasi and force them to write the same exams with their Accra counterparts? The most annoying part is a computer selection to SHS on grounds of total raw scores. It's totally unfair because of the clear development and infrastructure gab.

Seth Panyin, BOAMAH

actseth@gmail.com

Columnist: Boamah, Seth Panyin