Danger of associating tribalism with new regions

BY: Dr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako
minister for regional reorganisation ghana
minister for regional reorganisation ghana

A few days ago, the news that one New York-based Ghanaian was describing the intended creation of a new region out of Volta as a land-grabbing agenda for Akans in Ghana was very unfortunate because the Constitution of Ghana makes it very clear in Article 5 (2) as to how new regions can be created in the country.

Any group of people who  want the creation of a new region for themselves may petition the President after which the President will set up a committee to look into the matter.

The purpose of looking into the matter is to find out whether there is a genuine case for the creation of the new region concerned.

When the request came from chiefs, opinion leaders, as well as residents of the northern part of the Volta Region to the President for the creation of a new region, the President had no choice but to look into the matter.

Together with requests from leaders from other regions, the President referred the matter to the Council of State to study after which it told the President that there was the need to go ahead with the issue, leading to the setting up of a committee of enquiry that completed its work not too long ago.

 Having paved the way for this, the Constitution requires the country to organise elections in the regions where the residents concerned are looking forward to the creation of new region(s).

The main focus of arguments that have come up for the creation of the new regions is the desire to extend development programmes to these areas that feel left out in the development agenda.

The creation of new regions is not automatic and requires at least 50 per cent of votes in the area to turn out to vote after which at least 80 per cent must vote in favour of the decision to create new regions.

It is, therefore, unfortunate that any Ghanaian based anywhere in the world should canvass ethnic sentiments in relation to the issue as a way of creating confusion in the country, as well as disaffection for the government that has been petitioned by some other Ghanaians to carry out the exercise.

The danger of tribalism in Ghana and Africa has resulted in deaths, destruction of properties and other antagonistic attacks against fellow citizens on various parts of the continent.

Instead of remaining united, some unfortunate utterances from certain people in the country have tended to foil the progress of nation-building.

It is unfortunate that these developments are taking place at a time when we need to be more united than ever before.

 The lack of progress in Ghana today is partly the result of irresponsible and negative tribal tendencies engineered by people in various parts of the country.

What constitutes Ghana today was originally made up of four main regions, namely, Northern Territories, Ashanti, Gold Coast Colony and what is now known as Volta.

After independence, further regional demarcations were carried out to bring the number of regions to 10.

This process will continue in the interest of the people provided there is still the need for the creation of new regions based on the genuine needs from the people themselves in line with their wishes and aspirations and also in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.

All Ghanaians, irrespective of where they come from, must be treated with equal respect, meaning that any request from any group of people must be carefully examined and investigated and, where necessary, the issues raised addressed for the general or overall growth of the country.

In the light of this, any misplaced tribal agenda or ethnocentric sentiments ought to be pushed aside without delay for the nation to move on as expected in its development agenda.

This is what the country needs today and in the days ahead.  

Thus such negative tribal tendencies ought to be pushed aside before causing any damage so that the rest of the country can come together in unity for the smooth, speedy, uninterrupted growth and progress of the country all geared towards the attainment of our much-revered and desired as well as not-to-be-compromised national goal.

As a united country, we should never look back or be distracted by such negative tendencies but look forward with great expectations to ensure that our national objectives as a people are attained within the general framework of our positive socio-economic agenda.

The writer is  the Director of Corporate Communication, Ghana Standards Authority

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