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Move to split Northern Region Inspirational

Sat, 18 Apr 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

.What is needed by Gonjas is Political unity!

The Gonjaland Youth Association has just held its 33rd Annual Congress at Bole in the Nothern Region. The event which was very colourful was attended by Traditional Rulers from Gonjaland, Politicians, Citizens of the area resident home and abroad as well as people from all walks of life.

Issues discussed included the poor road network of Gonjaland, water problems in some areas educational issues such as poor school enrolment among girls in the area and how best to harness the natural resources in the area for develepment. Topmost on the agenda was the issue of the carving out of a new region from the present Northern 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 of Ghana John Dramani Mahama himself a Gonja 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.

It was inspirational to hear this from the number two man in the country. The vastness of the land I strongly believe is a major barrier to effective administration, development and conflict resolution. The region needs to be divided for accelerated development and administrative efficiency.

The Northern Region of Ghana is the region that covers the largest piece of land in the country, covering an area of 70,384 sq.km out of Ghana's approximately 237.626 sq.km. It is one of the regions that have the highest number of different ethic groups with the major ones being Dagombas, Gonjas, Mamprusis, Nanmbas and Kokombas. Tamale the capital of the region has been found in a 1994 survey by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to be the fastest growing town in West Africa.Notwithstanding this fact, the attention that Tamale gets is not enough to help different parts of the region to grow or develop.

Roads is many parts of the region are very bad and telecommunication, electricity, water,schools and other essential needs are inadequate. In fact many of the districts under the administration of Tamale suffer from neglect. This is borne out when one notices that by any available index of progress and development (education, health, roads etc) Gonjaland for instance comes out extremely poor.

The Northern Region lacks many things especially industrial and economic projects. It needs to be divided so that the limited resources, in the north will be effectively used.

This proposal I urge, should not be made by only people living in the Northern Region or people of northern descent like me, but a national proposal for national development and integration. I believe that breaking the region into two would allow for more creativity, innovation, effective administration and growth for the people of this very big region. As the Vice-President, John Mahama put it 'the people of Gonjaland should not view the need for another region as being only in the interest of Gonjas but as gesture that would ultimately benefit the entire peiople of Northern Region'.

It is noteworthy that even before assuming the Vice- Presidency of the country and to be specific 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 this topic. 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 administration 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.

What is more refreshing is the fact that most of the prominent Gonja politicians in other political parties have at a time expressed their resolve to push for the split of the Northern Region. This issue was dear to top most NPP Gonja politicians like Boniface Abubakari Sadik, Alhaji Nurideen Jawula and Adam Zakaria who at several platforms voiced out their concerns about this issue. The Vice-Presidential candidate of the CPP during the 2008 elections Dr Abu Forster Sakara, a Gonja disclosed his intention of seriously making the issue a big agenda for a government of the CPP.

A bi-partisan support of the idea will clear the cobwebs out of the minds of people that a particular government has a vested interest in the whole issue or might be trying to take credit. Yes the credit will go any government that creates a region but I am of the opinion Gonjas from all parties must be involved.

It is in view of this, I observed with disquiet and disappointment how the election of new National Executive of the Gonjaland Youth Association at Bole was politicised.

Members of the Greater Accra Branch decided to vie for some positions. In fact they really organised very well as this particular meeting to me saw the greatest number of Gonjas resident in Accra attending. The person that was selected from Greater Accra to contest as President was Alhassan Baba Darison an officer at the Internal Revenue Service-Headquarters. He was the preffered choice of many delegates because of his organisational acumen and ability to raise funds for any course trhat he believes in as well as his youthfulness. As Chairman of the Greater Accra branch of the association from 2003 to 2007, he did a lot for the association. Gonjas resident in Accra successfully celebrated many Damba festivals and also embarked on a lot of developmental activities.

Those from Kumasi, Sunyani, Techiman and other southern branches supported the idea of an Accra man leading the association because the last time a person from southern Ghana led the association was in 1986. When all was set for Darison to be elected as President, the political conspiracies began. Darison is NPP and so should not lead an association that has majority of its members including the Vice-President as NDC members.

The first move to derail Darison's ambition was started by a prominent traditional ruler (name withheld). He issued a fiat that the elections be suspended for no reason except that an NPP man was on the verge of winning as we were told by an equally prominent Chief of Gonjaland. This fizzled out as the issue nearly resulted in confusion because the branches insisted the elections be conducted. The next move was when an NDC former Regional Minister lead a delegation to prevail on Darison to step down, a situation that was so ridiculous to me. When he declined to step down he was accused of arrogance and disrespect for the elderly. Meanwhile propaganda was at work. Word went round that Darison had steped down for the eventual winner Mr. Bakari Nyari, a member of the Council of elders of the assiociation. I wonder if this man at 59 is the best to lead an association for the Youth.

In fact when a Journalist friend from Accra asked me the mans age and I mentioned it, he was surprised making me feel embarassed. If not for political expediency how can an elder of an association turn out to be the leader?

I have a strong believe that it is only in political unity that Gonjas could succeed in lobbying for the creation of the region which is so dear to every well meaning Gonja. There should be a bi-partisan approach to the issue or else it is going to be a mirage.

By: Mahama Haruna.

email-maharun1@yahoo.com Tel.- 0243-313-113.

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

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama