Crying wolf about new regions

BY: Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo
Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo - The Writer
Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo - The Writer

An invasion of armies can be resisted but not an idea whose time has come. - VICTOR HUGO.

During the 2016 general election, one of the major campaign promises canvassed thoroughly and in a diffused manner by both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was the creation of more regions.

It is, therefore, disconcerting that some politicians are describing the efforts by the current government to fulfil the electoral pledge through constitutional means as motivated by an inordinate desire for votes.

Within both the NPP and NDC administrations, districts and constituencies were created but it is a fact that the process did not entirely benefit the party within whose jurisdiction the new constituencies were created.

In the era of the NPP, the Electoral Commission (EC) created constituencies before the government created districts, whereas during the era of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the government created districts compelling the EC to create constituencies, since the Constitution provides that no constituency must traverse more than a district.

Even here, the NDC did not win in all the newly created constituencies just as the NPP did not capture all the new constituencies created in 2004.

That is why there should be no fuss about the creation of new regions beyond expanding the frontiers of decentralisation and promoting the equitable development of the country. People from the Upper West Region (UWR) can testify as to the pace of development recorded in that part of the country as an autonomous region as against when it was part of the Upper Region, when a disproportionate percentage of resources was devoted to the development of the eastern part of the region, now Upper East.

Beyond such concerns and interests, it must be noted that the current process of creating new regions is not the first time that traditional areas might be split.

What is important is that, the creation of an administrative region does not affect traditional authority.

If chiefs in some parts of the Brong Ahafo Region still owe allegiance to the Asantehene, and in particular, the Kumasi Traditional Council, then my appeal to the people of Dagbon is that Gushiegu will never be alienated from the Dagbon Traditional Council merely by its association with a new region.

The 1992 Constitution is unambiguous about customary law and traditional areas. It is only with the blessing, tacit approval and authority of the Overlord of the Dagbon Kingdom that any chief could be elevated to a paramount status.

As to those who are asserting their fundamental rights to have been included or consulted in the process of creating the new regions, they must know that the process is underpinned by the Constitution.

The Constitution states that nothing which is done in accordance with any of its provisions could be construed as unlawful.

Article 5 of the 1992 Constitution provides elaborately for the creation of a new region, alteration of a region or merger of regions either as a result of a petition from interest groups or the recommendation of the Council of State.

The discretion of the President is circumscribed by the Constitution. The only discretion of the President is in the appointment of the Commission of Enquiry, otherwise he is bound by the report of the commission, which he is enjoined to submit to the Electoral Commission for a referendum whose validity is prescribed and based on the outcome, the President is to issue a constitutional instrument to give effect to the results.

Article 5 (4) and (5) are germane to the restrictions imposed on the President not to tamper with the process beyond what is provided for in the Constitution.

We must all cooperate with the process if we profess to have faith in constitutional rule and democracy because the President has no power to vary the recommendations of the commission nor alter the plan of the EC in the process.

The rule of law might be unpleasant in some situations but it ensures legitimacy. We must not cry wolf when there is none.