Some governance experts have descended on the Paramount Chief of the Asogli Traditional Area, for his recent comments regarding the creation of new regions.
Togbe Afede XIV stated that the authorities involved in the creation of the regions should not be bias in the interpretation of the law.
The traditional leader who is also President of the National House of Chiefs, is on record to be in favour of the entire Volta Region participating in the referendum that will see the northern parts of the region ceded to form a new region.
“It is obvious that the creation of new regions will result in the alteration of existing boundaries. Indeed, if one of the issues to be decided in such a referendum is the boundary of a new region, then it is difficult to see how voting could be limited to people within the assumed boundary,” Togbe Afede said in September 2018.
Related: Creation of new regions: Stick to the law – Togbe Afede urges
Speaking to on the AM Show on the Joy News channel Thursday, George Kyei Baffour, a local government expert dismissed the traditional ruler’s arguments.
George Kyei Baffour
Mr. Kyei Baffour described as “preposterous, a travesty of rule of law and a violation of the fundamental rights of the people” who submitted the petition to for the new region.
He explained that it makes no sense to allow those who will not be part of the new regions to determine whether or not the people should have a new region.
“They’ll just come and vote no,” he said.
The Dean of Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), Eric Oduro-Osae has also slammed Togbe Afede on the latter’s comments.
According to Dr. Oduro-Osae, Togbe Afede has got it wrong. The lawyer explained that according to the constitution, the commission in charge of the creation of new regions is mandated to recommend the areas that should partake in such referendum.
Article 5/4 of the 1992 Constitution reads: (4) Where a commission of inquiry appointed under clause (2) and (3) of this article finds that there is the need and a substantial demand for the creation, alteration or merger referred to in either of those clauses, it shall recommend to the President that a referendum be held, specifying the sues to be determined by the referendum and the places where the referendum should be held.
Dr. Oduro-Osae also urged the traditional ruler to recognise the difference between administrative regional boundaries and traditional boundaries.
“I think he [Togbe Afede] has the understanding that administrative boundaries are the same as regional boundaries which is wrong,” he said.
Petitions to Togbe Afede?
According to the President of the National House of Chiefs, he had received petitions from traditional leaders of some towns; Lolobi and Akpafu who rejected their inclusion in the new regions.
“I have received a petition from the chiefs of Lolobi and the Akpafu traditional rejecting their inclusion in the proposed Oti region. I have received petitions from Voltarians who feel entitled to vote in the referendum,” he said.
A publication in the Chronicle newspaper on October 25, however, rubbishes these claim. The story says the Paramount Chief of Akpafu unequivocally backs secession from Volta Region.
The purported traditional rulers from the area that sent the petition, are not known to the Paramount Chief, the publication said.
Benefits of new regions
According to Dr. Oduro-Osae, the new regions would bring governance closer to the people and allow speedy development.
He explained a single fund that a region like the Northern Region relies on will be used more effectively because when the new regions are created from it, the new ones would have their own fund to work with.
It will also lead to the creation of jobs he said. This is because companies and institutions would want to have their regional headquarters in the new capitals and that means more jobs, he noted.
He, however, added that the government must ensure the regions once created, are furnished with the resources and tools they need.
The six new regions are proposed to be carved out of the Northern, Brong Ahafo, Western and Volta regions.