Many were surprised to see a Minister of Regional
Re-organisation & Development' included amongst the second
batch of ministerial appointees announced by Ghana's new
President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Visibly, for the New
Patriotic Party (NPP)-led administration, the creation of such a
ministry has been necessitated by the plan to create four new
regions in the country beginning in 2018.
The four proposed new regions are:
the Western-North Region which will be created out of the Western
Region; Ahafo Region to be taken out of the Brong Ahafo Region; Oti
Region taken from the Volta Region; and the Eastern Corridor Region
out of the Northern Region. The minister designate who will be
charged with the task of leading this drive is Dan Kweku
President Akufo-Addo has given the
reason for the proposed creation of the four new regions as a wish
to further the decentralisation of power in the country. In
presenting the new minister, he said "the process of
devolution of power will require that we look again at the regional
structures of our country, all with the aim of trying to promote
rapid development of Ghana." The new ministry will also work
on the process of ensuring that Metropolitan, Municipal and
District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) are elected and not appointed,
as is currently the case2.
The creation of the four new regions
will be a major political and electoral undertaking. The process as
defined in chapter two of the constitution requires first of all
for a commission of inquiry to be set up which will need to find
that there is "the need and substantial demand for the
creation." When this has been done, the Electoral Commission
must organise a referendum in the affected region(s) at which
"at least fifty percent of the persons entitled to vote cast
their votes at the referendum, and of the votes cast at least
eighty per cent were cast in favour3."
This announcement is a very bold move by Akufo-Addo; it will be
the first change in the makeup of the regions of Ghana since the
Upper West region was officially created in 1987. The mobilisation
of personnel and infrastructure to educate the people on the need
for the creation of these new regions will be massive and the price
of failure could also be huge. However, the potential gains could
also be plentiful. If accepted, the creation of new regions could
change the historical political allegiance of large sections of the
typically National Democratic Congress (NDC)-leaning Northern and
Volta regions. If residents of the new Eastern Corridor and Oti
regions feel that this move is successful, it could be a long-term
blow for the main opposition party.
Not only will the creation of the new regions be a huge test for
the political leadership of the country but also for the
nation's institutions, especially the Electoral Commission and
the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE). The NCCE is the
body that is responsible for educating citizens about the
importance of voting and, with such stringent requirements on
participation and success of any eventual referendum, they will
have their work cut out for them – turnout at the district
level elections rarely exceeds 40%.
One noticeable feature that permeates through Nigerian advocacy system is the practice of rigid adherence to procedural technicalities and emphasis on forms, otherwise known as ‘litigating the margins'.
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