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Opinion | Jan 11, 2019

Victory, but the battle lies ahead.

Victory, but the battle lies ahead.

The creation of the six new regions have come in handy, I received with some amount of happiness, the news of its proposed creation by the current government and duly commend them for the fruitful running of the referendum and subsequent success on the 27th of December 2018.

From a neutral perspective, the addition of the six new regions is necessary because of the challenges that has bedeviled the current crop of ten (10) regions post-independence, the northern region for instance is the largest in land size but one of the least developed in Ghana, the same can be said of the two upper regions and some parts of the Brong Ahafo, Volta and western regions, to some extent, parts of the eastern and Ashanti regions.

The key problem had to do with the capacity of the regional administrative setup to disseminate properly governance and development to the districts under their control; the following factors sum up the key reasons why regional governments found its somewhat challenging in executing their mandate properly;

Human resource and logistics
Placing the three northern regions into perspective, the land size is geographically large with settlement scattered, it’s thus difficult for personnel of the regional administrative offices to effectively monitor and assess developmental needs of various towns and villages within their geographic locations. The issue of insufficient personnel and logistics cannot be said of these regions alone but across the national sphere.

Bureaucracy
This has been an age old problem and a major alien of Ghana’s growth agenda, the apparent delays in relaying funds to various district assemblies, regional and districts setups complain bitterly about periodic delay in transferring budgetary allocations to their outfits, the rippling effect is interruption in our growth agenda.

Some schools of thought would have it that the addition of the six new regions would incur additional costs of setting up regional administrations, as well, existing setups could be reinforced to effectively execute the development agenda of government; on the flip side of it, the creation of these regions would help reduce further, the existing challenges facing the current administrative regions. The new regions will come with the following benefits;

Enhanced decentralization
The goal of decentralization is basically bringing governance closer to the populace, not that only but ensuring the national cake is apportioned fairly among the geographic settlements within the country.

Citizens within the new administrative regions would have first-hand access to budgetary allocations for developmental projects.

Infrastructural development
The setting up of the new regions aside decentralization will attract further development in the areas of health, roads, electricity provision, water and further deepen security within the regional enclaves.

Commerce and employment
All factors remaining the same, the creation of the new regions will bring to the geographical area, a boost in business, it is likely to attract more investors, locally and internationally due to a raise in its status to a regional setup; again new regions would require more personnel to oversee the local government machinery.

The preceding paragraphs are few of the benefits that will accrue to the new regional administrations when plans are properly transitioned into results, however, for every plan the execution of same comes with risks which might impede the needed outcome, the creations of the regions may come with good intents and the populace (within the new regions) may see it as a victory, but moving forward, the real task ahead remains, i.e. how current and subsequent governments will handle effectively the newly created regions to achieve the needed objectives.

It is important that the age old menace of bureaucracy be reduced to the barest minimum, the key words that comes to mind is speed with accuracy, visit most public service organization in Ghana and you would have a first-hand experience of the sheer display of delay in service provision. It is important that the final phases of the creation of the regions be expedited to set the development agenda quickly running.

Without a shred of doubt, the new regions will come with costs in the construction of regional government offices and provision of necessary logistics to set same afloat. Risks here is potentially the sources and application of funding for these new regions, we all know Ghana has a strained budget, a large part of our revenues goes into recurrent expenditures and small portions remain for capital projects. I believe and trust the leaders of the state have a comprehensive plan inclusive of where funds will be obtained and most pertinently ensure value for money for every cedi expended in this direction.

Ghana has long been a victim of discontinuity in government policies; this is largely due to the fact that we do not have a concrete development path mutual to our political divides, each party rules with policies suitable to its political agenda, the creation of the new regions came with opposition from the other side of the coin unsurprisingly; I fear that should there be a change in rulership next year, the smooth carving of the new regions might suffer setbacks; to avoid this, subsequent governments must ensure policies governing the new regions are duly implemented to achieve the need outcome.

Corruption and mismanagement of funds is rife among Ghana’s Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Internally Generated Funds and monies received from government chest are mostly misapplied or diverted from purpose for which these monies were received; this age old menace is likely to creep into the operations of the new regional set ups if steps are not taken to check deviation from standard financial practices at the early stages of their existence.

The Auditor general recently lamented the spate at which officers of MMDAs improperly handle state resources in their line of duties. It is my utmost desire that these cases are reduced to the minimum so resources can be diverted into developing the communities under their purview.

I recently chanced on a news item in which our immediate past leader, Ex-President John Dramani Mahama commited to further develop the six new regions when he is given the nod come 2020, this came as good news to me, my only concern is whether he will live up to the billing should Ghanaians give him power next year.

As the adage goes, development is not a thing of chance, but planning and concerted efforts to translate plans into reality, the referendum may come as victory to the populace within these areas, but the developmental battle lies ahead.

Abraham Ofori Gyebi
Abraham Ofori Gyebi, © 2019

This author has authored 15 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: AbrahamOforiGyebi

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