Seven individuals from the Volta Region have threatened to halt the public hearings of the Commission of Inquiry into the creation of new regions over what they describe as the uneven distribution of venues for the hearings.
Public hearings regarding the possible creation of a new region out of existing Volta Region have been slated to take place between January 16 and 20.
But the individuals say the venues have been skewed to favour only people living in the northern part of the Volta Region.
Lawyer for the aggrieved persons, Albert Quashigah, in a letter to the Commission, gave a 2-day ultimatum for the issue to be resolved.
“A publication in the Daily Graphic on January 8, 2018 said that the commission of Inquiry was going to hold public hearings in the Volta Region from the 16th to 20th January 2018 and about five venues have been selected,” he told Citi News.
He explained that his clients were alarmed because all the five venues where the public hearings are expected to take place “are basically concentrated in the northern part of the Volta Region.”
He argued that such action is unfair because the creation of the new region from the Volta Region will affect the entire region and not just a section of it.
“The eventual creation of the region will affect the entire region. So if you want to do a public hearing on a matter as sensitive as this you don’t create the impression that only those in the north will matter,” he said
Quashigah said his clients, in a letter, have given the commission a two-day ultimatum to have the issue addressed or they will ‘advise themselves.’
“Now we have given the commission two days to get back to us on our concern otherwise my client will advise himself. The two days is so that we don’t have the luxury of time on our side and expect the commission to get back to us. If by Monday we don’t get any indication that we will hear from the commission, my client will advise himself on the matter,” he added.
The five venues for the event include the Dr. Afeti Auditorium, the Ho Technical University, the Kete-Krachi Senior High School, the Nkwanta South Municipal Assembly Hall and the Nsuta Catholic Formation Center at Jasikan.
Gov’t not sponsoring petitions for new region
This is the latest in a number of issues to have come up in the process as the Minister of Regional Reorganization and Development, Dan Botwe, was forced to debunk claims that the government is sponsoring interest groups pushing for the creation of a new region out of the Volta Region.
The current government’s moves to respond to persistent appeals from people in the northern part of the Volta Region to have a new region carved from the existing one was met with a lot of criticism, mostly from the southern dwellers who claimed the move was being done for political expediency.
However speaking at a sensitization workshop for journalists, Civic Educators and Information Service Workers in the region, the Minister said, the government has no particular interest in the creation of the new region.
About Justice Brobbey’s Commission of Inquiry
The Commission was tasked by the President to produce a report on its work, and present recommendations which will subsequently be handed over to the Electoral Commission.
The Commission, upon assumption of office , toured the Volta, Western, Northern and the Brong Ahafo Regions, to solicit the views of residents on the creation of the new regions.
A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Brobbey, led the committee of 8 other members to undertake the consultation process.
It has over the past few days also engaged chiefs and opinion leaders from the Western, Volta Northern and the Brong Ahafo Regions.
The Electoral Commission is expected to organize a referendum for the creation of the new regions following final recommendations from the commission.
If 50% of persons living within the proposed areas endorse the proposal, the process of creating the new regions will then be implemented.
The creation of new regions was one of President Nana Addo’s several campaign promises in the run-up to the election in 2016.
Government is seeking to split the Northern, Western, Volta and the Brong-Ahafo Regions. However, some analysts have said the move is merely for political advantage.
But the Minister for Regional Reorganization, Dan Botwe, has dispelled such claims, saying it would instead enhance the economic opportunities as well as promote effective governance in such areas.
Once the in-camera hearing of petitions has ended, the Commission will move into the regions to hold public hearings. That process is expected to begin this month from the Western Region.