Western North Region: We have enough resources to develop - Chiefs
The chiefs and people of Western North Region say they have been motivated by the abandunce of natural resources in the area, and hopes it would translate into development and ultimately reflect in their welfare as a people when the region takes off.
They are therefore counting on central government to support them to judiciously harness the agro potential, forest and mineral resources that are in abundance in the area to grow the local economy and improve sustainable development in the area.
Speaking in an interview with GhanaWeb, they said cash crops such as cocoa, cashew, timber, rubber and other plantations are under serious production in the region, and would contribute heavily to the prospects of agriculture in Western North.
Yaw Adu Amankwa, an indigene of the area argued "Our cocoa, rubber, timber and mineral resources continue to provide the nation with foreign exchange earnings (income) and we expect that central government will recognise this and consider our effort and assist the new region with development projects"
According to him, one critical challenge confronting local governance in Ghana is the lack of financial resources to influence development of regions, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
"This disturbing challenge, has caused an imbalanced structure in development distribution, and rendered many local governance structures ineffective", he said.
He nonetheless observed that the people of Western North Region, who came out in their numbers to vote during the recent referendum have pledged to collaborate with central government to develop the area.
President of Western Region House of Chiefs Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi (II) who was instrumental in supporting the creation of the new region expressed confidence in the locals to drive the development agenda of the area.
Speaking in an interview, the President however disagreed with the position of over relying on central government for development projects because of availability of natural resources in ones region.
"Ghana is not a Federal State that you can make an argument that resources from your area should be used to develop your communities. This country is a Unitary State and all proceeds emanating from resource exploitation are put in the consolidated fund for central government to determine how they are disbursed for development", he said.
In the case of Western North for instance, he said agriculture remained a thriving business. He said what the new region actually requires is value addition to these available resources.
He cited the impact the implementation of the one district one factory could make in transforming the local economy of all the districts making up the new Region.
He said one of the companies establishing its presence in the region has decided to add value to cocoa waste to create energy. "This company will be producing thirty (30) mega watts of power" as an Independent Power Producer (IPP) for Volta River Authority (VRA) which is playing the role of an offtaker.
He revealed that there is another company going into bauxite development at Awaso, which could change the face of the local economy.
Projects of these nature, he said would succeed in creating jobs and assist in building the local economy.
Citizens participation in local governance
The Concerned Youth of Sefwi, who have declared their willingness to support the development agenda of Western North Region campaigned vigorously during the referendum, to activate citizens participation in the governance process.
They succeeded in wetting the appetite of the electorates to come out in their numbers to vote during the exercise, and have since pledged to shoulder the development agenda of the local area.
Meanwhile Police in Bibiani as well as Sefwi Bekwai and Wiawso in the Western North Region recently received a pick-up vehicle each to boost their work.
Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Alfred Obeng Boateng, donated the vehicles worth 525,000 cedis.
The gesture, he noted was in response to an appeal made by the police for assistance to combat crime in the area.
This donation followed a similar intervention in which Mr. Obeng Boateng gave a 110 kva generator valued at 120,000 cedis to Bibiani Government Hospital.
At a durbar observed at Sefwi Bekwai, he noted that government was basically responsible for development of the country.
However, he said delay in delivery of projects and services, being caused by inadequate resources can be disappointing hence a cogent reason for citizens to participate in the governance process by making development a shared responsibility.
“There is no doubt that without adequate police protection, the criminals, particularly, the armed robbers will not only take our cash and movable property but also our lives. Therefore, this gesture is for the safety and security of the inhabitants of Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai and Sefwi Wiawso Municipalities,” he emphasized.
These three areas he mentioned above, clearly fall within the Western North Region which was heavily endorsed by indigenes during the referendum.
Mr. Obeng Boateng who played a key role in the process, entreated natives, home and abroad, to contribute to developing the area.
“The big question which I usually ask is that, if you and I do not help; who else should do it for us, if the need arises?” he asked rhetorically.
Aside Alfred Obeng, former Western Regional Minister Paul Evans Aidoo, current Western Regional Minister Dr. Kweku Afriyie, have all been pushing hard the development of the area, using the creation of the new region as the springboard to further advance the agenda.
Source: Daniel Kaku