Although the presentation of the Constitutional instruments (CIs) that gave meaning to the creation of the North East and the Savannah regions was hugely welcomed by the people, the choice of capitals — Nalerigu for the North East and Damango for the Savannah — elicited contrasting reactions, some of them violent.
The violence occurred in Gambaga in the North East Region and Salaga, the capital of the East Gonja municipality, where enraged residents, mostly the youth, who were in disagreement with the choice of regional capitals reacted in destructive style.
In Salaga, the youth burnt down the New Patriotic Party (NPP) constituency office and pulled down party billboards.
They accused the government of cheating Salaga in the race for the regional capital.
Similarly, in Gambaga, the Daily Graphic gathered that aggrieved youth of the town went on the rampage, burning billboards belonging to the NPP to register their displeasure over the siting of the capital in Nalerigu.
According to them, Gambaga had all what it takes to be the capital of the new region and had thus been unfairly treated.
“They burnt tyres at the SSNIT and the NHIS offices and attempted to set the district assembly offices ablaze,” an eyewitness said.
Earlier, many people in the various towns and villages had monitored the ceremony to present CI 115 on the creation of the North East Region at the Jubilee House in Accra on television and radio and immediately President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo mentioned Nalerigu as the capital, it was met with varying reactions.
In Nalerigu itself, as well as Chereponi and Bunkpurugu, there was massive excitement about the choice of Nalerigu as the capital.
However, in Gambaga, Walewale and Mamprugu/Moaduri, the people were disappointed with the decision.
Those who expressed excitement said the decision by the President to site the capital of the new region in Nalerigu, the largest town in the East Mamprusi municipality, was a step in the right direction because it was strategically positioned at the centre of the new region and would be accessible to all the people of the region.
Those who were unhappy were of the opinion that Nalerigu was not qualified because it did not have the required infrastructure.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, a resident of Nalerigu, Mr Abdul-Rauf Shaibu, expressed his excitement at the siting of the capital.
He urged the people of the region to stay calm and not indulge in any violent acts because the region belonged to all of them and not only the residents of Nalerigu.
Mr Nuhu Abdul-Razak, a resident of Mamprugu/Moaduri, said: “Although my preference was not made the capital, I welcome the decision by the President. I urge that we should now look at reconciling the people to ensure peace and unity.
“Our wishes might not have been granted in the naming of the capital for the North East Region, but most of us are young and desire many opportunities to excel. Those opportunities are still there for us.”
Another resident, Mr Peter Yidana, said there was a lot to gain from the new region, especially jobs and social amenities, “and so let’s stay calm and think of how we can collectively help in the holistic development of Mamprugu”.
In Nalerigu, the euphoria was high, as some residents burst into jubilation to welcome the choice of the town as the regional capital.
Amid drumming and dancing, hundreds of residents thronged the forecourt of the Nayiri’s Palace to celebrate the announcement and showered praises on the Overlord of the Mamprugu Traditional Area, Nayiri Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sheriga, who is said to be the brain behind the creation of the new region.
Although the people of five out of the six major towns in the newly created Savannah Region welcomed the naming of Damango as the capital with ecstasy, residents of Salaga would not accept that and turned their anger on the President and the government.
In Damango, there was massive jubilation, as the youth displayed riding antics with their motorbikes, while many people took to the streets to jubilate.
A resident of Damango, Mr Kanyiti Saburu Kantama, in an interview, said: “This is what we have been yearning for; it is a victory for all of us in the Savannah Region and not only for the people of Damango.”
The District Chief Executive for West Gonja, Mr Saeed Muhazu Jibreal, in an interview with a local radio station, urged the people of Damango to celebrate in moderation in order not to inflame passions among the people of the other towns.