The nine-member Commission of Enquiry tasked to consult on the proposed creation of new regions in the country, has taken their consultative exercise to the Western Region.
The Commission, led by retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Stephen Allan Brobbey, is to seek the views of opinion leaders and other stakeholders in the Western Region on the proposed split.
The team first had an in-camera session with the 20 paramount chiefs and their queen mothers in the region.
They were briefed on the constitutional provisions surrounding the proposed split, and the role traditional leaders must play in the process.
Request is from the people, not government
The Minister for Regional Reorganization and Development, Dan Botwe, who only explains constitutional provisions surrounding the proposed creations, but leaves the process to the Commission, explained in a Citi News interview that “the proposed creation of regions, even though was highlighted by the then-candidate Akufo Addo ahead of the 2016 general elections, is an action triggered by petitioners from the regions involved, who are acting on Article 5 clause 2 of the 1992 constitution.”
He continued that “there has been, since the 1980s, several proposals from chiefs and people of different regions who have since been petitioning the government to create the new regions.
“Before becoming a President, Nana Akufo-Addo had received many petitions from the chiefs and people to also create new regions. So the exercise we are doing is purely on the basis of our people acting on the powers of Article 5 clause 2 of the 1992 constitution” he emphasized.
Chiefs ‘divided’over expected development after split
Whilst the Vice President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs Awulae Amihere Kpanyili III believes the proposed split of the region “will give development in the northern part of the Western Region a boost”, the Paramount Chief of the Western Nzema Traditional Area, Awulae Annor Adjaye III, is not enthused that a mere splitting will lead to accelerated development.
He described all the anticipated developments as a “probability because to develop there are so many factors.
The input itself or the people who are handling development at the helm of affairs, and then you also talk about the support the people in the area will also receive or give. These are all probability”.
First public hearing held in Sekondi/Takoradi
The team, after the engagement with the Western Regional House of Chiefs, moved to hold its first public hearing in Sekondi Takoradi.
Stakeholders such as Assembly members, District Chief Executives from the Shama, Sekondi-Takoradi, Nzema East Municipal, Ahanta West and the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal assemblies, as well as journalists and other known opinion leaders were present.
Whilst there were arguments in favour of the split, others suggested a re-look at the factors driving the request.
A legal practitioner speaking in favor of the split, opined that access to judicial services is concentrated in the southern and middle belts of the region to the detriment of the litigants in the upper belt.
Lawyer Edmund Akwaa Arhin argued that “we have six high courts in the Western Region. Three of them are in Sekondi, one in Tarkwa and then one in Sefwi Wiawso. We have 2 commercial courts and all of them are in the Sekondi. We do not have a single one in the northern part… even though there are a lot of commercial activities in the northern part, litigants have had to travel from that part to Sekondi. They do this at a great expense. Sometimes out of the inconvenience, litigants just give up the race. Many of the commercial cases from that part of the country do not see the light of day”.
But the host of the Jolly Breakfast Show on Skyy Power FM in Takoradi, Samuel Kojo Brace, opined that the argument put in favor of the split with the excuse of the travelling distance between the north and south does not add up.
“If it is the administrative hurdles that are created of the distance, how can’t we deploy technology such as scanning documents and sending them via the internet to have them signed at the regional office and sent back in real time without having to travel?”
The Commission of Enquiry is continuing its public engagement in the region. Their next stop is at Enchi, the district capital of the Aowin District. They will then hold other four public hearings at Adabokrom, Bibiani, Wassa Akropong and the Sefwi Wiawso districts to seek the views of stakeholders.
By: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/citifmonline.com/Ghana