Outspoken Ghanaian professor, Stephen Kwaku Asare, is warning of serious threats, including legal battles, to the implementation of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s plan to create additional regions.
He argues the creation of new regions will be “very difficult, nearly impossible” due to the absence of explicit provisions in the 1992 constitution, which state who qualifies to particpate in a referendum for such exercise.
President Akufo-Addo in the run up to the December 7, 2016 elections promised to create a new region, Western North, out of the current Western Region to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources.
He promised to follow provisions of Article 5 of the constitution which states the processes for the creation of regions.
On Wednesday, the president took the first step in seeing through his promise by naming Member of Parliament for Okere, Dan Botwe, as minister designate for a newly created Ministry of Regional Re-organisation.
Though Article 5 of the country’s constitution spells out the procedure to be followed, Prof Kwaku Asare, who is also a lawyer believes “it is unclear who is entitled to vote in the creation of a region.“The Constitution stipulates that a region shall not be created unless “at least fifty percent of the persons entitled to vote cast their votes at the referendum, and of the votes cast at least eighty percent were cast in favour of creating the region,” he posted on Facebook.
“Some will say if you want to create another region out of an existing region, then only registered voters of that affected region should be entitled to vote. This is just one of the many plausible ways of interpreting” the Article 5, he added.
According to Prof. Kwaku Asare, others have argued creating a region affects the whole country hence all registered voters are entitled to vote, something he said would trigger “litigation on this matter”.
“It is extremely difficult to get 50% (or more) of registered voters to the polls to decide such issues. Third, it is nearly impossible to get 80% of voters to agree on anything, let alone agree on creating a new region,” he observed.
Prof Kwaku Asare also warned of a possible threat from the opposition parties in the country, saying “even if creating a region is desirable, the possibility that the opposition will mobilize to embarrass the government must not be underestimated”.
For him, regions do not further the course of devolution but just a projection of centralized power. “Regions have no budgets, cannot tax, cannot make laws. They are cost centers with questionable value,” he added.
Creating more regions, he contended, will lead to electoral demarcation, which may lead to more constituencies and that “more constituencies will probably lead to more districts, etc.”
He has consequently advised the government to carefully think about the plan create additional regions before making any move on its implementation.