President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday announced Nalerigu as the capital of the newly created North East Region and Damongo as the capital of the Savannah Region.
He made the announcement after presenting two Constitutional Instruments (CIs) to chiefs and people from those parts of the country to firm up the historic creation of the North East and the Savannah regions.
Moments after the announcement, there was spontaneous jubilation by the delegations from the two regions at the two separate ceremonies.
The presentation of CI 116 to the Overlord of Mamprugu, Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sheriga Mahami Sheriga, signalled the creation of the North East Region, while the Overlord of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa, received CI 115 to signal the creation of the Savannah Region, both carved out of the Northern Region.
Until their elevation, Nalerigu was the capital of the East Mamprusi municipality, while Damongo was the capital of the West Gonja District.
President Akufo-Addo, who later signed an instrument of attestation for the creation of the regions, also announced a GH¢20-million seed capital each for the two new regions and charged the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Saeed, to be the caretaker minister for the two regions until substantive regional ministers were appointed.
Addressing the first durbar in honour of the North East Region, the President assured the residents of the region that the government’s development projects and infrastructure would be fairly spread across the region.
“Let us work hard together, and I am confident that with dedication and commitment, the North East Region will develop and touch the lives of every resident and help us build the great nation we all desire,” he said, adding: “Let us be up and doing, for our destiny beckons.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo welcoming Nayiri Bohagu Mahama Abdulai Sheriga (2nd left) to the Jubilee House. He later presented the CI for the North East Region to the Nayiri. Pictures: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
He said history had been made, since it was the first time in the era of the Fourth Republic that provisions of the Constitution in relation to the creation of regions had been invoked and successfully implemented.
He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had, in the run-up to the 2016 general election, pledged to facilitate the creation of additional regions from the Western, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Volta regions.
Few months after taking office, therefore, the President received a petition from the Overlord of Mamprugu, Nayiri Sheriga, in which the Overlord said the demand for the creation of the North East Region dated back to 1996.
“Pursuant to the dictates of the Constitution of the Republic, in Article 5(2)(a), l referred this petition to the Council of State for its advice on June 26, 2017, and on August 15, 2017, the council advised that a Commission of Inquiry be established to determine whether or not there was a need and substantial demand for the creation of the North East Region.
“I was pleasantly struck by the several occasions, in the course of those proceedings, when important personalities from different political persuasions saw common ground on the need to create new regions. It was clear that the process was demand-driven and reflective of the will of the people, as the Constitution so intended,” the President said.
With 99.8 per cent of the 80.3 per cent of the electorate who turned out to vote in Yagaba, Walewale, Gambaga, Bunkpurugu and Chereponi voting yes, President Akufo-Addo said, the North East Region recorded the highest ‘YES’ vote.
“The North East is the bread basket of the Northern Region and one of the biggest suppliers of food to the entire country and it is only appropriate that we help facilitate its rapid development,” he added.
In order to maintain the momentum of the success of the popular demand for the creation of the six new regions, he said, within one week of the declaration of the results of the referendum, he constituted a government committee to plan and oversee the rapid development of the new regions.
Nayiri Sheriga, in a speech read on his behalf, expressed appreciation to the government for the creation of the region and said “the people of North East owe you a huge debt that we cannot pay till the end of time”.
He also expressed appreciation to all stakeholders, including the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; the Minister of Regional Reorganisation and Development, Mr Dan Botwe; the Legislature and the Electoral Commission (EC), for their roles in facilitating the creation of the region.
The Nayiri also highlighted the potential of the region, which included large deposits of valuable minerals such as gold, limestone and dolomite and rich fertile valleys which he said ought to be tapped for national development.
“There are also a number of untapped tourism potentials in the North East Region like the Gambaga and the Nakpanduri scarps and the hippopotamus sanctuary at Nangurima,” he stressed.
Nayiri Sheriga pledged to do everything possible to maintain the peace and social harmony in the area.
“I wish to call on the youth to come and join in our development efforts. Those at home should also endeavour not to join the exodus train. The solution to the situation of poverty in the north does not simply lie in running away from home but in having the courage and tenacity of purpose to stay back and work hard to defeat the root cause of it,” he emphasised.
Savannah Region durbar
Speaking at the second durbar, President Akufo-Addo said: “I have no doubt that the future of the Savannah Region is bright and that it will touch the lives of every resident to help build our great nation of the Ghana that we all desire.
“My government is committed to the growth, progress and success of the Savannah Region and we will work to make sure this happens.”
Years of demand
The President said after 23 years of agitation, pleas and petitions made by successive Yagbonwuras, MPs and the Gonja Youth Association to successive governments for the creation of the Savannah Region which did not yield any dividend, “the NPP and I were determined to do something about it and pledged in the 2016 campaign to create new regions out of the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Volta and Western regions”.
He said the most fundamental demands of the people to live in a thriving economy which provided opportunities for all found expression in several forms, one of which was for the reorganisation of the regional governance structure to bring government closer to the people to facilitate the rapid development of the nation and its economy.
“Anyone who visits the Northern Region, especially the newly created Savannah Region, will attest to the fact that it is typified by poor road networks, insufficient health, educational and telecommunications services, poor sanitation and water supply systems.
“You will not be far from wrong if you describe the Savannah Region as the least developed part of the Northern Region,” he said.
The President said the irony was that the Savannah Region was blessed with an abundance of natural resources.
The Yagbonwura, in a speech read on his behalf, thanked the President and all others for the efforts and said although the Constitution barred chiefs from participating in active politics, he would give praise where it was due.
He said President Akufo-Addo had shown bold, visionary and distinguished leadership for which Gonjaland and the entire Savannah Region would be forever grateful.
At both ceremonies were members of the Commission of Enquiry, some members and the Chairman of the Council of State, current and past Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the NPP, Ministers of State, chiefs and opinion leaders.