By Frank Amponsah
The Commission of Enquiry set up by President Akufo-Addo to receive petitions for the creation of new regions in the country has submitted its report with a recommendation to government to create new regions.
The recommendation by the commission for the creation of new regions reflects the collective will of the people of Ghana.
Speaking at the Jubilee House yesterday when the Report was presented, President Akufo-Addo commended the Committee for carrying out such assignment in the interest of the people of Ghana in the interest of socio-economic development and indicated that the process reflected the will of the people.
He said, since the setting up of the Commission, there was a substantial demand for the creation of new regions which reference was given to the Commission to inquire the need for the demand for the creation of new regions in Oti, Ahafo, Bono East, Western North, North East and Savanna as required in Article 5 (Clause 2) of the Constitution of Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo said: “In accordance with the teachings of the Constitution of the Republic, provided in Article 5(2), I proceeded to inaugurate, pursuant to Constitutional Instrument No. 105 (C.I 105), this Commission of Inquiry, with the following terms of reference: a) to inquire, pursuant to the petitions, into the need and substantial demand for the creation of new regions and, thereby, the alteration of Western Region, Brong Ahafo Region, Northern Region and Volta Region; b) to make recommendations to the President, based on its findings, on the creation of a region or alteration of regions; and c) to specify the issues to be determined by referendum and the places where the referendum should be held, where it makes recommendations for the creation of new regions and alteration of regions.”
He also indicated that C.I 105 requires that the Commission complete its job within 6 months, adding that the period, at the request of the Commission, as a result of the extensive nature of its task, was extended by C.I. 107 to 30th June, 2018.
The President averred that recommendations from the Commission will be followed allowing a referendum in those areas.
I followed with keen interest the proceedings of the Commission, and noted, with satisfaction, the wide nature of the consultations undertaken. I was, particularly, 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 is clear that the process has been demand-driven, and reflective of the will of the people, as the Constitution so intends. It has been a truly national exercise.
The report submitted by the Commission indicates that there is, indeed, a need and substantial demand for the creation of new regions in the various areas that were the subject of its inquiry.
He advised Ghanaians who would be taking part in the referendum to respect the laws of the land and allow 50 percent of persons living within the proposed areas to vote whilst 80% of the Votes in favour of the creation of the new regions are counted as the will of the people.
“Let me reiterate that at least 50% of the persons entitled to vote must vote in each of the different referenda, and, of the votes cast, at least 80% must be cast in favour of the creation of a region for the demand to succeed. The Constitution insists that the process and outcome must be guided by the popular will, and it is my earnest wish that the holding of the referenda will be conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner. Generally, throughout our history, administrative regions have been created to bring governance closer to the people and accelerate socio-economic development. Hopefully, the creation of these new regions will serve the same purposes,” he advised.
Government, he said will issue a white paper on the Commission’s report paving the way for the possible referendum.
The Commission however recommended that the Electoral Commission (EC) holds the referendum in the stated regions.
Nana Akufo-Addo however enumerated that the EC has a duty to conduct the referendum in an orderly and peaceful manner so as to accelerate socio-economic growth.
“We are charting a new path in the constitution era. This is the first time under our constitutional dispensation that new regions are created and we must do all we can to ensure it is successful,” he said.
The work of this Commission will definitely be one of the landmarks in that journey. History will definitely applaud; I have no doubt, the manner in which this Commission has discharged its historic duty.
The Minister of Regional Re-organisation and Development, Dan Botwe, said that the Commission of Enquiry had follow the due processes to put its report through and gave the assurance that government will ensure that the EC is equipped with all the necessary resources to conduct the referendum in a peaceful, free and fair manner.
He said the President had received petitions from traditional leaders across the country calling for the creation of new regions for which the Commission was created.
According to him the Commission had engaged the NCCE, the media and other relevant agencies in sensitization and public education drive to create awareness about the exercise and expressed satisfaction that the Commission had finally finished its work.
On his part, Justice Brobbey Chairman of the Commission said the exercise was significant since it has become the first in the history of Ghana that new regions are being created under a constitutional era.
He said members of the Commission were carefully selected and they have also worked tirelessly to express that confidence reposed in them and averred that the Commission travelled across all the length and breadth of the country, holding public seminars for people to express their hopes and frustrations.
“The message was the same from our people from all walks of life, they all shared the same sentiments,” he said.
He revealed that the Commission held six in-camera meetings were held with petitioners, 41 public hearings, 1 interaction with National house of Chiefs, 4 meetings with the Regional House of Chiefs and 28 other consultations with other people as well as Members of Parliament were held.